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Stained Glass Window Printer

Complex designs, easy manufacturing...
  [vote for,

Easy there fishbone world...

This one is not as crazy as it might sound... in fact, I started building one of these a while back, but I've not yet finished it.

Two phases... the first phase uses a metal CNC mill to create the metal borders between glass sections from a sheet of metal. (I'm proposing steel for this part)

Then, the idea is to take powdered and colored glass and deposit it on the metal sheet in ink-jet style creating an image. Then this would be baked in an oven to fuse the glass particles together for each glass piece.

These glass pieces would then be released from the "mold" and soft lead would be used to fill the gaps thereby creating a traditional looking stained glass window.

The result would be a stained glass piece containing color and design detail not typically available.

zigness, Mar 15 2004

Some Monks Making Stained Glass http://www.alanmacf...m/glass/window.html
4meg Quicktime movie [dpsyplc, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

I think a few lasers can http://muweb.miller...exp.of.the.month/3/
Not sure of the specifics [sartep, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

A decorated rondell http://studioegallery.com/DM-Rondell.jpg
[Klaatu, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]


       Sounds like more effort than it's worth.
Worldgineer, Mar 15 2004

       Ever made a REAL stained glass window? My dad used to restore them... months and months and months of work for only one of them.
zigness, Mar 15 2004

       [Worldgineer], if I could make a stained glass window with this device -- a large one -- in, say a couple of days when it would normally take hundreds of man hours, how would that be   

       //more effort than it's worth.//?
zigness, Mar 15 2004

       I was thinking of this for home use, which sounds pricy. I guess for industrial use this sounds reasonable.
Worldgineer, Mar 15 2004

       Oh, I'm thinking very, very big. 40-50 foot windows built in sections.
zigness, Mar 15 2004

       Not the same as transparency film for inkjet printers, I assume?
kropotkin, Mar 15 2004

       No, definitely not the same as transparency film... in fact a side effect of this would be the possibility of extra thick glass similar to what is found in some castles and cathedrals from several hundred years ago.   

       I think it would be cool.
zigness, Mar 15 2004

       //take powdered and colored glass and deposit it [snip] this would be baked in an oven to fuse the glass particles together//   

       This is a great idea in that the fusing would leave bubbles and small imperfections which would look similar to the original hand-blown glass that was used in ancient stained glass panels. [+]
Klaatu, Mar 15 2004

       [Klaatu], agreed, in fact, the idea came about by pondering how they make stained glass sheets in the first place. This would be nearly identical (I think so anyway -- I haven't actually been able to try it yet)   

       I forgot to mention that this might also make it possible to have near photo-like effects within one piece of glass.
zigness, Mar 15 2004

       Why would you want to have lead in your window? To imitate ancient limitations? Just print your stain on a normal slab of glas and bake that. If you still want lead inserts, have that cnc machine mill away shallow grooves in the glass that you fill with lead powder.
nietsch, Mar 21 2004

       Actually, [nietsch], there is a structural advantage to the lead. It's slightly flexible, unlike the glass, and since it gives a little, it's helpful for really large installations.   

       I think your suggestion is insteresting, but grooves cut into glass would act as 'scores' and the glass would tend to shatter along those lines. I'm not sure how to avoid that.   

       That's why I was going with the lead separations... that, and the nostalgia.
zigness, Mar 21 2004

       I've always liked stained glass work, but have never tried it. It looks tedious. Regarding the idea:   

       1) Big kiln required.
2) I don't exactly follow the CNC/metal part.
3) I like it.
half, Mar 21 2004

       [half], any process could be used to create the metal "shape mold". I chose CNC because that's the kind of equipment I have access to, and I'm working on actually trying this.   

       [unabubba], yeah, some things exist like you've described, but the effect is different. Truly stained glass has a different optical effect when light shines through it.
zigness, Mar 21 2004

       Why not make this some sort of a laser printer, (lasers for the spot heating) that way you can keep your equipement smaller and your designs bigger.   

       For example, you could have a printing head on an arm that is suspended from the celing so it can go a great length or full length of the room.   

       On the print head there would be the primary colors of silicate powders and a laser to spot heat the glass. A lead soldering iron would be on the other side of the print head. +
sartep, Mar 22 2004

       [sartep], hmmm... that's interesting. I wonder what sort of laser would be necessary to create molten glass?
zigness, Mar 22 2004

       They are using really large lasers to make high quality optical glass but I don't think that you need something of that power (for this reason.)   

       So I found the smallest laser that said it could melt glass and provided a linky for it.
sartep, Mar 22 2004

       I thought that the whole trick with glass was that it had to cool very very slowly. Don't know that spot heating with a laser would work. This is why they use kilns.   

       Good idea, though to somehow automate a significant part of the stained glass process, which is extremely time consuming.
Mungo, Mar 22 2004

       Nobody's yet mentioned the do-it-yourself pseudo-stained-glass kits where you put plastic 'beads' into a metal frame and bake it in the oven?
supercat, Mar 22 2004

       [mungo], I've worked bending hot glass before, and you are correct, even heating and cooling are required. That's really important. Even thickness (or at least significant thickness) is required as well.
zigness, Mar 22 2004

       //pondering how they make stained glass sheets in the first place//   

       [zigness] you first need to ask "why"? Because they had no means to make sheet glass, glassblowers would blow a large bubble. They would then transfer it to the pontil, and after heating, they would spin it into a rondell <link>. The rondell could then be cut into panes of glass, with the center reserved for "bulls-eye" glass.   

       Since glassblowers were already making small panes and they had discovered how to add rare-earth elements to color the glass, the next step was to make designs in colored glass. Stained glass.
Klaatu, Mar 23 2004

       I worked as a glass cutter at a window manufacturer. We had a CNC glass cutter that worked like a giant printing plotter. The cutting head rotated to make cuts in all sorts of shapes (as is arched or round windows). Large sheets of glass would actually be allowed to fall from a near vertical storage cart on a felt topped table that had holes to produce an air cushion like an air hockey table. I wouldn't imagine it would be too hard to write a program that would create patterns out of pictures and then cut the appropriate shapes since a desktop PC ran the machine. It would tell you what color of glass to put on the table next and even allow you to make choices for better creativity. You would still need to do the lead work of course but the cutting of the shapes would be automatic. The program could also run an automatic cutter for the lead channel that would cut the exact lengths needed when you highlight the piece on the pattern the computer displays. Click, snip, place. Only time consuming hand work left would be the soldering. Would be faster than melting glass for sure.
Nitehawk, Mar 23 2004

       [Nitehawk]... just pondering... I'm not sure that the "handwork" of soldering would be faster than melting glass. I've done that work... it takes forever.
zigness, Mar 26 2004

       You could still try your technique of soft (molten?) lead to fill in. It's just that the glass shapes would be cut exactly to a pattern and you would be guaranteed what colors you end up with. As I understood you idea, the glass if freed from the "mold" after it is finished. Just make a jig to hold the glass pieces. On the other hand, I don't know exactly how much work is involved in leading the glass but I do know that CNC work is expensive and that's how you said you were going to make the molds. It's got to less demanding than the process of trying to get all that glass to cool evenly. After all, you lose one piece you will end up having to make more glass. My way, you just pull up the program and cut another one in minutes.
Nitehawk, Mar 26 2004

       My castle in the mountains I'll live in when I'm rich and, well, rich, will have great big stained glass windows featuring scenes from my favorite movies and literature.   

       So in self-interest, bun, and bun again except I can't.
Eugene, Mar 26 2004

       I repeat: what about the pseudo-stained glass kits that one can get, which use some sort of oven-meltable plastic? The stuff isn't real glass, but it should be possible to have a machine that would dispense the colored beads into different regions of a metal frame.
supercat, Mar 26 2004

       [supercat], you're right... it should be possible to dispense beads from a machine (rather easy in fact), however, the effect from plastic versus glass is huge... plastic just doesn't excite me with this one.
zigness, Mar 26 2004

       As I think about it, I think this could be used as a way to make really large cloisonne pieces too. Thoughts?
zigness, Apr 03 2004

       Forgive me for intruding but aren't we imposing technology on things that are meant to be beautiful because of their craftmanship? Stained glass is beautiful because is hand made. The moment you replicate it on a printer, it would look like digital photos (clear but lifeless). Maybe you should learn the art of glass staining. If it's only for home use, you might save time and money by buying how to books and making your own.
felipefas, Apr 20 2004

       Are you saying that digital photos are lifeless compared to those acquired on film? Bah.
bristolz, Apr 20 2004

       // Forgive me for intruding but aren't we imposing technology on things that are meant to be beautiful because of their craftmanship? Stained glass is beautiful because is hand made. The moment you replicate it on a printer, it would look like digital photos (clear but lifeless). Maybe you should learn the art of glass staining. If it's only for home use, you might save time and money by buying how to books and making your own.//   

       The goal is to have something that's intermediate in price between a plain sheet of frosted glass and a handmade stained-glass window, and is likewise intermediate in quality.   

       Just as there are machine-made pattern rugs that are a step up from the usual boring beige carpets but far inferior to fancy handmade Persian rugs, so to would this be a mid-level stage between boring glass and handmade quality.
supercat, Apr 20 2004

       With all due respect to those concerned with "beauty" and "quality".   

       The goal here is to improve both. Simply saying that hand made is better is nonsense.   

       Does a pianist have to build his own piano to create beautiful piano music? No. Of course not, it's done by technicians with the help of machines.   

       The art lies in the image, not the way it's manipulated. I've seen some unbelievably stunning computer generated imagery -- it's just a matter of what you choose to create. Not so much how you create it.
zigness, Apr 20 2004

       //The goal is to have something that's intermediate in price between a plain sheet of frosted glass and a handmade stained-glass window, and is likewise intermediate in quality.// No. That wasn't my goal.   

       There is no intrinsic relationship between cost and quality.
zigness, Apr 20 2004

       zigness: Many objects made by machine are better than many objects made by hand, true. And the best objects are seldom entirely hand-made. For many types of objects, though, the best quality is often obtained by having some parts of the work done by machine but with a manual 'finishing' operation.
supercat, Apr 21 2004

       //There is no intrinsic relationship between cost and quality.//   

       Actually, there is. Higher-quality goods at any given price are generally in greater demand than lower-quality goods at the same price, and meeting the greater demand for higher-quality goods will generally cost more than would meeting the demand associated with lower-quality goods.   

       To be sure, these are only general trends, and there are specific counter-examples where lower-quality goods cost more. Generally, though, since the goal of producers is to maximize demand for their products while minimizing cost, anyone who can change his production to simultaneously improve quality and reduce cost will do so.
supercat, Apr 21 2004

       [Steve DeGroof], you're thinking paint... and by the way, it's easy to work out what you're talking about... Photoshop does it.   

       However, with glass it's a bit different. For instance, red glass is made by adding gold. There would be a distinct "formula" for each color, and you would just use a lookup table to grab the powder as needed.   

       That's my thinking anyway.
zigness, Apr 21 2004

       Is all this coloration information (e.g. add gold to make red) related to the manufacturing of colored glass? I thought the idea was to powder existing colored glass and re-melt it. From what I've seen, you melt blue glass, you get blue glass.   

       I guess it might be difficult to mix colors as they would be applied to the glass in layers from the color "print heads". It might take a while to apply, but it seems in thin enough "layers" the colors would blend. But, I ain't never tried it.   

       Instead of using the CNC whatever to form steel barriers, why not use some sort of CNC equipment to shape copper "I" between segments and/or "U" channel around the outside to define the sections to be filled with glass. Looks like copper has a higher melting point than glass. Certainly a suitable alloy would work.   

       Once the glass is melted and the piece cooled. The copper can be soldered. Small, hobbyist, stained glass art pieces can be made with a thin copper adhesive tape which is applied to the edge of the glass pieces, wrapped slightly on to the surfaces of the glass and then soldered to adjoining pieces.   

       Melting powdered glass: I wonder if excessive air would be trapped in the glass as the minute pieces melt and fuse. The whole operation could be done in a vacuum to draw some of the air bubbles out of the glass if that's necessary.
half, Apr 22 2004


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