Filtering Coffee Through 3D Printed Glass

Typically, when we think of 3D printing, we think of gooey melted plastics or perhaps UV-cured resins. However, there’s a great deal of research going on around printing special impregnated filaments with alternative materials inside. [Ahron Wayne] has been working on these very materials, and decided to make himself a brew with a prototype print.

Tasty, but [Ahron] notes you shouldn’t drink in the lab.
The subject of [Ahron]’s experimentation is a glass-impregnated filament under development by The Virtual Foundry. The filament is full of tiny glass particles, and the idea is that it can be printed like any regular plastic filament. From there, it’s heated in what’s known as a debinding process, which removes the plastic in the print. Then, it’s heated again in a sintering process to bond the remaining glass particles together.

It’s a complex process, and one that leads to some shrinkage in dimensions as well as porosity in the final part. However, where some might see failure, [Ahron] saw opportunity. The porous printed part was used to filter coffee, with the aid of a little vacuum from what sounds like a water venturi.

[Ahron] notes it’s not a particularly efficient way to make coffee but it did work. We’ve seen exciting work with steel-impregnated filaments, too. Video after the break.

11 thoughts on “Filtering Coffee Through 3D Printed Glass

    1. There have been more overcomplicated and pretentious ways than a Chemex to brew coffee for a long time. My Bodum vacuum pot looks less industrial, more movie-chemistry-labby than the one in the picture, takes more time to set up than a Chemex. I wouldn’t want to set it up first thing in the morning. But it looks really fascinating when brewing.

      Its combination of fragility (it has top-heavy, oddly-shaped glass pieces that have no flat bottom) and complexity means that I don’t use it often, but supposedly it makes excellent coffee. I don’t know, I drink the leftovers in the automatic drip machine when I clean it out in the morning.

      1. I think you’re on the right thinking here, I think the paranoia is in the description of what the structure is ultimately made of. To be honest, I’ve spent a huge amount of my life working in the coffee and espresso production industry from green bean roasting, to machine building and maintenance to final drink, and drip coffee via a substrate is always going to introduce a fair amount of contaminants. Espresso via a real stainless steel group head basket is the safest and least pollutant to your body as far as I understand the common method of action.! One breaks down much faster than the other. You can do the math on filters vs. stainless steel.

  1. An interesting way to make a Buchner funnel, though with no way to get precision on pore size. Might have been better to use another filter first and used the sintered glass as a clean up step

    1. Oh, man, I spent like 30 minutes deciding whether or not to say “sounds like a Buchner funnel with extra steps”! Props on you, internet stranger, for justifying my paranoia that someone else would point that out.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.