Glass Geodesic Dome

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Introduction: Glass Geodesic Dome

The geodesic dome is a remarkable geometric object, invented by Buckminster Fuller, one of the greatest minds of our time. Here I will instruct you how to make one of them with glass and silicone. Let's do it!

Step 1: Materials

You will need only these things:

2. 30 glass triangles A, 10 glass triangles B;

4. Colorless silicone.

The glass has to be cut in two triangles, like the template showed below. 30 triangles called A, and 10 triangles called B. You can scale the triangles together up or down, and use any thickness or glass color that you like. The triangles can be cut of a rectangle, like showed below, saving material. You can learn how to cut glass here, or to order it from a glass professional. Ask for the most accurate cut, because the errors will add at the end.

If you like, you could use another materials too: plastic, acrylic, pvc, wood... You can try also another types of adhesive instead silicone: two-part epoxy, pvc glue, gorilla glue, etc. Each of them will have their own different features and have to be tested before you start.

To make a dome with 40 cm of diameter, the base of the triangles will have 123,5 mm each. If you scale up the figure, the dome will be higher, if you scale down it will be smaller.

Step 2: Protecting the Glass

Mask the edges of all the glass triangles to protect then from the silicone excess in the joints. Remember: it's very difficult to clean the cured silicone from the glass. It's far more easy to protect it first. Cut the tape close to the edge with a sharp blade.

Step 3: Making the Hinges

Separate the A triangles. Turn the tape covered triangles to the side of the unsheltered glass and apply more tape along the two smaller edges of them, leaving half of the tape exposed to attach another triangle, making a hinge between them. Cut the excess of tape.

When five of the A triangles are united with tape hinges along the small edges of them, raise then until the two remaining edges touch together and join them with tape, making a pentagonal pyramid.

Step 4: Filling the Joints

Now there are only exposed glass between the sides of the masked glass triangles. Fill the joints with silicone and remove the excess with a piece of metal or plastic. Repeat the process in all joints and make six pentagonal pyramids similarly. Leave the pieces aside until the silicone was totally cured (around 24 hours).

Step 5: Joining the Parts

Get two of the pyramids and link then using two B triangles, in the way previously described. Look carefully to the images below. One of the pyramids must be united with two B triangles, like showed in the images below. Wait more 24 hours until the silicone was cured.

Step 6: Joining the Parts - Final

Now it's time to close the dome, uniting the missing parts. Link the two bigger modules with two more B triangles, and join the remainder module behind. The last pyramid on the top is the most difficult to fit, because there are a sum of errors in the measures. May be necessary some glass sanding and fine adjustments.

Step 7: Removing the Tape - Interior

When all silicone joints are totally cured, remove the inside tape hinges.

Step 8: Removing the Tape - Exterior

Now remove the outside tape, showing all the glory of the dome.

Step 9: Finishing

Cut the excess of silicone with a sharp blade and clean the glass. Now you have an exotic and sophisticated piece of conversation. Show it to your friends!

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Questions

Thanks again, Lindsley, I have another set of triangles foiled and ready to solder.

I thought I'd share another really good dome calculator that has a few more options than the (excellent) desertdomes one:

http://acidome.ru/lab/calc

Great calculator!

This is really cool.
Another idea to join the glass panes together would be to use self adhesive copper foil tape like used for stained glass. Then solder everything together; kind of like a stained glass lampshade.

3 replies

Done! See above :D

Good work! It's very solid and you can make money with this. Paint decorations in the glass, or etch it.

Thank you! Getting some interest and working on a batch! Also found a very good dome calculator: http://acidome.ru/lab/calc

Hi, I was wondering if you would mind if I (attempted) modified this ible to make a geodesic dome cushion?

Is silicone strong enough or would you recommend any other adhesives ?

I like it!. I plan to make a full sphere (and a base to stand it on) and use it as an aquarium!

I want to scale it up and live in it! An all glass, super strong, cost efficient mansion! How cool would that be?!

3 replies

cost effective? you're kidding right?
in the summer you'd be cooked to death and in the winter you'd freeze. glass has very poor insulatig qualities. you're bills would be sky-high.

you could use triple layered glass. Also I mend cost effective compared to other types of glass houses. however, your criticism does bring up a few good points for me to look in to. maybe I will just build it out of wood after all.( assuming I ever do build one.)

I think that cool it wouldn't never be. It will be a giant greenhouse!

Lovely work! Masterfully executed! I liked it enormously!

Thanks for your comment!

I think you should scale it up, add a few fans and flashy lights and make this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7yNgiRAg5E&t=1m38s

It looks like a very fiddley build, what do you plan to do with it?