Product Design, ArtEZ Arnhem
A laser-cutter is normally used to cut through a material. Instead of cutting, I am using the heat of the laser to melt the material. In this case glass. By making multiple layers of glass I can build three-dimensional objects from a design made on the computer.
The glass I use comes from normal glass bottles. I break them in small pieces and then grind them in a machine I made from parts of a coffee grinder. This gives me powdered glass. When I make a thin layer of this powder and go over it with the laser, the powder melts together, reproducing the shape I drew on the computer.
The laser melting the glass.
The first experiments, testing multiple settings.
When one layer of glass is lasered, it has a thickness of around 1 millimetre. The shape is really breakable. Therefore, I have to put another thin layer of glass powder on top of the made shape and repeat the process. This produces a thicker shape of glass and is less likely to break. By repeating this process multiple times, I can create real 3D shapes.
The first 3D result, around 5 layers thick.
A slightly bigger shape and testing multiple colours of glass.
Because I have to work with a laser-cutter, the shapes have to be built up in layers. In order to make more complex shapes, I make 3D drawings on the computer and slice them up so I have all the separate layers. Now I can print these drawings layer by layer.
The computer drawing, sliced in layers.
This is the first skull I printed. It is relatively small, around 3 centimetres high. In order to print bigger objects, I have to create more space inside the laser-cutter. I made a hole in the bottom and added a bigger box with an adjustable floor level so I can lower the printed object after every layer.
After the object has been printed, I remove all the loose glass powder. Now only the printed shape remains.
The setup at Tetem showing the making process.