TU Delft Delta TV Glass
Students test the glass bridge. (Photo: TU Delft TV)

​​​​​​​We all agree that glass is beautiful, but not everyone is convinced that it can also be safe. Would you dare to jump or dance on a glass bridge?

This is the main reason why the glass and transparency group at TU Delft has been researching how to design and engineer safe glass structures.

The Building Engineering and Architectural Engineering & Technology department built two special glass constructions: a Glass Swing and a Glass Sandwich Floor. They built them to show at Glasstech, an international trade fair for the global glass industry in Dusseldorf. This event sets new trends and is where investments in glass applications are made. TU Delft shared an exhibition room with three German universities, Dresden, Darmstadt and Dortmund.

It has only recently been possible to produce high strength glass. “That’s how we came up with the idea of creating a swing, as it allows people to really experience how strong a glass bundle can be,” says Professor Ate Snijder. Collaborating with a glass company called Schott, they made the glass bundles in the swing from individual glass rods connected by 3D printed joints. After finishing the glass swing, they tested it simply by swinging it to the max. Just to make sure it’s safe.

Rob Nysse had the great idea of making something big enough that people can actually walk across, like a bridge. That’s how the idea of the Glass Sandwich Floor began. They spent several months making small models until they were able to scale it up. In the end, it was big enough for people to walk, run and dance across, and to hold 50 people at a time.

“What we learned from the swing, and what I really liked about making glass structures, is that people are super surprised to see that glass is such a strong material,” explains Snijder. We made a bridge of glass rods and built a swing. Hopefully, in the future, we can make an entire building of glass. That’s my dream!”

The project is a partnership of glass company Schott, engineering bureau Arup, RAMLAB and TU Delft. 

See the short TU Delft TV documentary below.