A team of Canadian researchers has modified a conventional commercial 3D printer so that it can now create three-dimensional objects from glass..
The glass printing method is based on a widely used deposition simulation technique, in which a thin filament of material is melted and then extruded layer by layer to form a detailed volumetric product..
Engineers at Laval University settled on chalcogenide glass because it is often used to make optical components in many devices and becomes soft at a relatively low temperature compared to other glasses..
Glass from a 3D printer
To enable the extrusion of chalcogenide glass, the team increased the maximum operating temperature of a commercial 3D printer from 260 °C to 330 °C. The rest of the additive manufacturing process remains the same.
Researchers claim that their invention will allow for efficient and cheap production of infrared optical components..
They are also exploring alternative approaches for printing objects from other types of glass or from multiple materials. Combination with various polymers with specialized electrically conductive or optical properties will make it possible to manufacture multifunctional devices.
The team is currently improving printer design and expanding print customization options to improve productivity and efficiency..
In addition to improving production methods, scientists are inventing new amazing materials. Recently researchers have developed a technology for the production of transparent and lightweight polyethylene films, which are close to aluminum in terms of strength and elasticity.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: metalocus