Australian startup begins production of world’s “first affordable 3D glass printer”

Maple Glass Printing has begun production of what it says is the world’s first affordable 3D printer able to create objects out of glass.

Maple was established in 2017 by Professor Nick Birbilis — then of Monash University, now Deputy Dean of Engineering and Computer Science at Australian National University — and Dr Darren Feenstra. It is based at Northcote, near Melbourne’s CBD.

(For more on the company’s background, please see this March 2019 interview with Feenstra in @AuManufacturing.) 

“Massive news for 2021! Our Maple2 glass printer is now in production” the company announced on Linkedin at midday (AEDT) on Monday.

Feenstra describes the company’s printers as having similarities to fused deposition modeling 3D printing methods, except operating at hotter temperatures and using recycled glass instead of polymer filaments as a feedstock. 

Printing occurs in a chamber operating at about 700 degrees celsius, according to Maple. The machine can print using materials “including a variety of soda-lime glasses, recycled glass waste, and custom glass prepared using a vitrigraph (inclusive of Bullseye Frits, sheet and powders)” 

Maple explains its mission as “to reduce glass waste by 3D printing it. Large architectural glass 3D prints are more expensive and require large amounts of typically non recycled glass to use.” 

Its brochure includes machine specifications, and can be read here.

“By using recycled glass, our patent pending machine can print detailed glass pieces with an economically viable process.”

Maple recently earned a Canberra Innovation Network ICON grant.


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