It is not even news anymore! Another day, another crazy thing being 3D printed into life! Researchers in Germany are now claiming that they are close to coming up with a technique that can revolutionize the art of glassmaking as it can be used to 3D print the material in any shape and form.
The study was published in Nature this week, with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) investigator Dr. Bastian Rapp presenting a unique way to manufacture a “liquid glass” that can be used with 3D printing software and heated to the desired shape. The molten glass passes through 3D printing nozzles, and the result is a glass clear enough to be used for drinking cups, decoration pieces and even eye spectacles and lenses.
There have been previous such attempts as well, but they weren’t able to create glass smooth enough for widespread use, as reported by The New York Times. Rapp has employed stereolithography which uses glass nanoparticles and then spreads them in a liquid that eventually hardens under UV light. In the final step, the cast goes into a heated oven where it further solidifies the glass and wards off any excess material.
The final look of the glass produced is at par, if not better, with the commercial silica glass but with the versatility in design thanks to the 3D printing technology.
Rapp says the glass usage can be for any commercial application like smartphone lenses or computing-based components. And since software directly makes any elaborate shapes and designs, it is sure to bring down the time-consuming human effort and consequently its price.
KIT managed to create intricate designs such as little glass pretzels, a honeycomb, and even a miniature castle to prove the viability of the technique. KIT claims that this technology doesn’t need any special equipment and can be used with conventional 3D printers, although it does need some time before it is widely in use. Just imagine a broken, expensive flower vase being reproduced in a flash thanks to this quick 3D solution!