Breaking the Mould

Thursday 24 July 2014
Anatomical Deconstruction VII by Gayle Matthias, Senior Lecturer.

Anatomical Deconstruction VII by Gayle Matthias

A selection of Falmouth University students have been taking part in an innovative pilot study which looks set to revolutionise traditional materials processes. The study forms part of a three-year glass casting research project led by senior lecturer Gayle Matthias and research fellow Tavs Jørgensen.

Over recent months, students from BA(Hons) Contemporary Crafts, BA(Hons) Sustainable Product Design and BA(Hons) Interior Design have been experimenting with an entirely novel method of glass casting. Testing the process, they've explored the greater freedom afforded by the technique. Gayle explains, "Traditional glass casting is a cumbersome, lengthy and sometimes hazardous process. We've developed a method which simplifies the process by removing the need for a physical pattern and instead uses 3D technology to print the mould directly."

Piquing significant critical interest, the research has been presented at the V&A Museum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the 43rd annual Glass Arts Society (GAS) conference, the European Academy of Design Conference in Gothenburg and is scheduled to appear at the University of Durham's Glassac14 in September.

"It's removed three stages in production and has reduced the minimum thickness of moulds ten-fold," adds Gayle. "We've tested the method in-studio and have worked with students to explore the technique's parameters. Next year we're keen to extend their involvement by conducting a longer pilot study."

In addition to greater flexibility with time, scale and intricacy, students involved in the project have also benefited from use of the project's materials, including a commercial 3D printer worth £20,000 from rapid prototyping company ZCorporation.

Practicing glass artist Gayle has already used the process within her work, some of which was included in this year's New Glass Review, an annual showcase of the globe's most significant glass works.

The pair has also been involved in exploratory research with senior members of London's Royal Free Hospital to consider potential applications in stem cell and regenerative tissue research.

Their research will feature in Bloomsbury's forthcoming September issue of The Design Journal.