Category : GENERAL
By Daniel Sauter and Jaskirat Randhawa (United States)
Quartz unites computer-aided rapid prototyping technology with silica glass—one of the most versatile material compounds used for millennia. Our extrusion process aims for a novel computer-aided design approach to form two- and three-dimensional glass artifacts that benefit from the material’s toughness, optical quality, and thermal stability.
Quartz has two main objectives: To enhance the 3D fabrication process from an intermediate-level polymer-based prototyping material to a glass substrate—considered elegant, permanent, artistic, sustainable, and taste-neutral (depending on its use); and to foster iterative design by building on a substrate that retains its integrity throughout its own recycling process.
Molding and forming liquid-glass typically requires specialized equipment, skill, and training, as molten glass flows continuously under the influence of gravity. Our process relies on the precise timing and repeatable movement of computer numeric control to perpetually form silica bodies as the material transforms from liquid to solid state. The superb artistry attained by glass-working masters through training and trade secrets over generations (i.e. Morano, Venice) is not the objective and intent of this material research. Instead, our process confirms the research hypothesis that silica glass can be formed and omnidirectionally extruded with intricate and repeatable CNC movements as the material goes from a fluid to solid state.
Extruded glass is suitable to fold back into the existing material lifecycle and does not degrade during the recycling process—which makes it arguably a better alternative to ABS and PLA plastics. This computational extrusion process opens up novel design possibilities to new demographics—shaping the structural and optical properties that are unique to glass. The required software is free, and the hardware components are commercially available in the US.
Our process is inspired by the art of lamp-working and driven by personal experiences working at industrial-scale glass recycling and production facilities. We use comparable material and a propane heat-source used by glass artists for making artifacts and intricate pieces of craft. The mechanics of our process are operated by digital software and CNC hardware to achieve repeatable and precise omni-directional movements to produce sculptural work.
The extrusion paths for the CNC machine are generated in a CAD modelling software (Rhinoceros 5), and we use Chilipeppr—an online CNC hardware fiddle—to operate the X-Carve machine. The carriage of the machine holds the propane torch and vacuum assembly to liquefy and extrude the glass.
Congratulations and thanks to the creators of Quartz for envisioning a tool that could help designers and makers explore the possibilities of digital fabrication with silica glass. Your contribution to our community is extremely valuable and encourages other designers to push the boundaries of what is available in the marketplace. Hope you see the impact of Quartz in many solutions and products in the near future. Great job!