News ID: 191316
Published: 0245 GMT April 22, 2017

Researchers use stereolithography to 3D print tiny glass

Researchers use stereolithography to 3D print tiny glass

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), in Germany, have developed a method for 3D-printing with glass.

The 3D printer is supplied with a novel mixture of high-purity quartz glass nanoparticles and a small amount of liquid polymer, which works as a binding agent, UPI wrote.

Scientists use stereolithography to cure the printed product with light, before washing out any remaining liquid in a solution bath. Any polymer that remains trapped in the glass is melted away during a final heating stage.

Bastian E. Rapp, a mechanical engineer at KIT, said, "The shape initially resembles that of a pound cake; it is still unstable, and therefore the glass is sintered in a final step, i.e. heated so that the glass particles are fused.”

Previous attempts to 3D-print with melted glass yielded porous structures with a rough surface.

The new method avoids such problems. Scientists were able to construct a variety of complex structures using the new 3D-printing technique.

Measurements of the final product suggested the glass features intricate microstructures. Researchers observed glass structures measuring just a few micrometers.

Rapp explained, "[The] technology could be used, for instance, to make small, complex structures out of a large number of very small optical components of different orientations.”

Researchers believe the method could be used to produce special lenses for a variety of optical applications.

Rapp and his colleagues detailed their success in the journal Nature.

   
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