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Scientists develop process to bend glass around corners

Architecture & Design

German scientists have found a way to bend glass using an oven and a mirror-guided laser.

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Spotted: German-based Fraunhofer has developed a technique to perfectly bend glass around corners. The process allows glass to be bent into sharp angles without causing imperfections, the company says. 

Glass sheets can be bent using ovens. But the traditional method has serious drawbacks. For one, it causes imperfections. Two, the practice does not result in sharp bends, like those needed to cover 90-degree angles. Scientists at Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM say they have solved both these issues.

The procedure also uses ovens, but it requires less heat and the strategic application of a laser. The ovens are heated to 500 degrees celsius. That is slightly under the so-called transition temperature when glass softens. They then use a mirror-guided laser to heat a solid line where they want to bend the glass up to transition temperature. At that point, they bend the glass and it retains that position when it cools.

Because only the part that is bent is affected, the glass retains its optical properties with no imperfections. To date, the scientists have successfully used this method to bend one square metre of glass. They are looking for partners to scale up their work. 



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