from the smashing-idea dept.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Producing glass objects using 3-D printing is not easy. Only a few groups of researchers around the world have attempted to produce glass using additive methods. Some have made objects by printing molten glass, but the disadvantage is that this requires extremely high temperatures and heat-resistant equipment. Others have used powdered ceramic particles that can be printed at room temperature and then sintered later to create glass; however, objects produced in this way are not very complex.
Researchers from ETH Zurich have now used a new technique to produce complex glass objects with 3-D printing. The method is based on stereolithography, one of the first 3-D printing techniques developed during the 1980s. David Moore, Lorenzo Barbera, and Kunal Masania in the Complex Materials group led by ETH processor André Studart have developed a special resin that contains a plastic, and organic molecules to which glass precursors are bonded. The researchers reported their results in the latest issue of the journal Natural Materials.
[...] These 3-D-printed glass objects are still no bigger than a die. Large glass objects, such as bottles, drinking glasses or window panes, cannot be produced in this way—which was not actually the goal of the project, says Masania.
The aim was rather to prove the feasibility of producing glass objects of complex geometry using a 3-D printing process. However, the new technology is not just a gimmick. The researchers applied for a patent and are currently negotiating with a major Swiss glassware dealer who wants to use the technology in his company.
More information: David G. Moore et al. Three-dimensional printing of multicomponent glasses using phase-separating resins, Nature Materials (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41563-019-0525-y