The question that came up after the amazing February DorkBot meeting was “Is there anything that I can do with any of these cool materials without a 3D printer?”   I am ALWAYS haunted by questions like that.   Since the meeting, I have been experimenting with at least one answer.  The  answer for me was  Glass Clay.  {There are many other answers like – traditional ceramics/pottery, PMC clays, etc}

Glass clay has been mentioned in an earlier post.   However, I took some time, explored the web, got the supplies and made some glass clay.  Glass clay is a bit like Play-Doh or Modeling Clay but is composed of mostly glass.   The resulting objects produced using it can be fired into interesting glass objects.    There are a couple of amazing sites with glass clay details (see NewTechniquesInFusedGlass or KaiserGlass).   I tried to go for something that worked (maybe not the best) but something that was simple.

Briefly, one makes a CMC (methol cellulose) jelly.  Try something like 4 teaspoons of CMC in about 500 ml (~ one pint) of very warm water.   Stir well for a good long time (I used a magnetic stirrer – hot plate).   If you are lucky (patient), you get a semi-clear jelly (something thicker than gravy but less than mashed potatoes).  Let this stand over night to several nights (hope that it gets clear-ish).

Spoon out a quantity into a zipper-lock plastic bag,  and then add powdered glass.  Use a ratio of about 1 part CMC jelly to 5-7 parts of glass (by volume).    Close the bag and kneed.    Keep kneeding.   If the clay sticks to the bag, then add more glass.   If the clay is dry, then add some more CMC jelly.  Once it pulls away from the bag, open the bag and touch the clay.  If it sticks to your finger, it is too wet — add more glass.    {This is much like describing how to make pie dough!}  When you get a good clay, try wedging it a few times.

{Fun factory and petit for cutters with unfired glass clay}

I went to the store and purchased a set of  petifore cookie cutters and a Play Doh  Fun-factory(tm) (along with other Play Doh(tm) sets).    I set out on a fun-u-facturing adventure!   I call it fun-u-facturing because making things is truly fun.   In engineering-land, when we make things, we often say that we man-u-factured a given part.  {Doesn’t sound as much fun?  Does it?}

{Fired Glass clay flowers}

I am becoming increasingly aware of a growing interest and genuine need for humans to engage in the process of making things — perhaps it’s because we mostly consume goods that are made by someone else {for a variety of reasons}. Look around the web, DIY or DIWO (do-it-with-others) is exploding.    3DP and Open3DP is a small part of movement.   For today, however, take a break…  Go to the store to get some Play Doh and  practice your fun-u-facturing! (Maybe some of our materials will call you too!)

{Fired Glass clay buttons.  Why do buttons have either 2 or 4 holes?  Why not 3 holes?}


Ed and Martha Biggar

28 Comments on Fun-u-facturing (to answer a DorkBot’r question)

  1. […] Fun-u-facturing (to answer a DorkBot’r question) « Open3DP (Open 3D Printing). by Bre Pettis | Categories: Things We Like | Enjoyed this article? Subscribe to the full […]

  2. […] Fun-u-facturing (to answer a DorkBot’r question) « Open3DP (Open 3D Printing). by Bre Pettis | Categories: Things We Like | Enjoyed this article? Subscribe to the full […]

  3. bre says:

    Wow, super awesome! I love the photo of the playdoh machine!

    • admin says:

      I didn’t even know that they still made play-doh fun factories. 50 year anniversary sets are available. I purchased one and brought it home and my bride took one look at it and said “Could you get me one for Valentine’s Day? And a big package of Clay?” What could I do, I went out to get another. Thanks

  4. bre says:

    Wow, super awesome! I love the photo of the playdoh machine!

    • admin says:

      I didn’t even know that they still made play-doh fun factories. 50 year anniversary sets are available. I purchased one and brought it home and my bride took one look at it and said “Could you get me one for Valentine’s Day? And a big package of Clay?” What could I do, I went out to get another. Thanks

  5. VDX says:

    … you can try with glass-dust and sodium silicate (waterglass) as paste basis too – it’s hardening on air and/or can be heated in a kiln.

    I mix better dispensable pastes with spheric particles (glass, aluminium-silicates, molten rock, gold-tin alloy, carbonyl iron) instead of dust – in diametres below 100 microns to 10 microns (embedding some submicron particles too) and dexpanthenol as organic evaporating fluid or waterglass as mineralic base …

    Viktor

    • admin says:

      Viktor, thanks for sharing. We are building a community around 3DP BUT we are also into having some fun at it too. Glass is THE most amazing material that I have ever encountered in my life. Welcome.

  6. VDX says:

    … you can try with glass-dust and sodium silicate (waterglass) as paste basis too – it’s hardening on air and/or can be heated in a kiln.

    I mix better dispensable pastes with spheric particles (glass, aluminium-silicates, molten rock, gold-tin alloy, carbonyl iron) instead of dust – in diametres below 100 microns to 10 microns (embedding some submicron particles too) and dexpanthenol as organic evaporating fluid or waterglass as mineralic base …

    Viktor

    • admin says:

      Viktor, thanks for sharing. We are building a community around 3DP BUT we are also into having some fun at it too. Glass is THE most amazing material that I have ever encountered in my life. Welcome.

  7. Sharon says:

    Another fun way to use glass clay is molding. I made silicone molds of trilobite fossils (amazing mold putty), squished in colored glass clay, froze them for easy removal and then fired them (hold for 10 minutes at 1300 F.) The glass trilobites came out great.

    • admin says:

      Sharon, thanks for sharing. We have been making silicone RTV molds. We have poured everything possible into them from waxes, plastics, and low temperature metals. Is the technique that you described called “Freeze and Fire”?

  8. Sharon says:

    Another fun way to use glass clay is molding. I made silicone molds of trilobite fossils (amazing mold putty), squished in colored glass clay, froze them for easy removal and then fired them (hold for 10 minutes at 1300 F.) The glass trilobites came out great.

    • admin says:

      Sharon, thanks for sharing. We have been making silicone RTV molds. We have poured everything possible into them from waxes, plastics, and low temperature metals. Is the technique that you described called “Freeze and Fire”?

  9. Sharon says:

    I think what I used is more than freze and fire. I just froze the glass clay in my mold because I couldn’t get the complete trilobite out at room temperature. I made the clay using methyl cellulose (the kind you can use for gluten free baking) and system 96 glass powder. I also hand molded a few small slugs.

  10. Sharon says:

    I think what I used is more than freze and fire. I just froze the glass clay in my mold because I couldn’t get the complete trilobite out at room temperature. I made the clay using methyl cellulose (the kind you can use for gluten free baking) and system 96 glass powder. I also hand molded a few small slugs.

  11. Hamza says:

    This seems to be another viable material for the DIY/ DIWO. But as these activities become more mainstream and making/ creating becomes more common, how do we tackle the issue of waste? The raw materials are still being consumed and is there a possibility of the products created to be recycled/ up-cycled?

    • admin says:

      Hamza, you raise a really good point. The idea of “making” usually means resources. For the Fun-u-facturing, I was using post-industrial recycled glass (from a stained-glass manufacturer). Do you know if recycled ceramic materials are available?

  12. Hamza says:

    This seems to be another viable material for the DIY/ DIWO. But as these activities become more mainstream and making/ creating becomes more common, how do we tackle the issue of waste? The raw materials are still being consumed and is there a possibility of the products created to be recycled/ up-cycled?

    • admin says:

      Hamza, you raise a really good point. The idea of “making” usually means resources. For the Fun-u-facturing, I was using post-industrial recycled glass (from a stained-glass manufacturer). Do you know if recycled ceramic materials are available?

  13. Dawn says:

    Hamza –

    The Clean Washington Center has published a series of highly detailed papers on the effective use of post-consumer glass in a number of small scale glass fusing, blowing, and ceramics applications, including actual how-to and recipes for additives. Go here http://www.cwc.org/ and then click on the glass link – lots of interesting information there.

    • admin says:

      Dawn, CWC is an excellent source of information about a variety of recycled materials and in general processing of a variety on interesting 3DP materials. I really like the combination of ceramics and glass!

  14. Dawn says:

    Hamza –

    The Clean Washington Center has published a series of highly detailed papers on the effective use of post-consumer glass in a number of small scale glass fusing, blowing, and ceramics applications, including actual how-to and recipes for additives. Go here http://www.cwc.org/ and then click on the glass link – lots of interesting information there.

    • admin says:

      Dawn, CWC is an excellent source of information about a variety of recycled materials and in general processing of a variety on interesting 3DP materials. I really like the combination of ceramics and glass!

  15. Erin McNeely says:

    OH MY GOSH! Is there nothing that you do that isn’t enormously interesting and fascinating!! I decided to look at this site from your 425glass.com site, Wow…..this is so wonderful. I am so impressed and as the Green Czar of MY company, I am sure to find something to share about your work with my co-workers! Keep it up. I am proud to know your team…for so MANY reasons!!!!!!

    • admin says:

      Erin, thanks for stopping in and lauding us. We are just trying to do research, have fun and engage the community at large.

  16. Erin McNeely says:

    OH MY GOSH! Is there nothing that you do that isn’t enormously interesting and fascinating!! I decided to look at this site from your 425glass.com site, Wow…..this is so wonderful. I am so impressed and as the Green Czar of MY company, I am sure to find something to share about your work with my co-workers! Keep it up. I am proud to know your team…for so MANY reasons!!!!!!

    • admin says:

      Erin, thanks for stopping in and lauding us. We are just trying to do research, have fun and engage the community at large.

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