A multi-disciplinary team from Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute for Technology created 'Liquid Glass' that can be used in room temperature 3D printing processes.
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So far in the three-dimensional printing revolution, polymers have been the preferred material because of their ease of use. They can be mixed and shaped without requiring extensive additional processes. Glass, on the other hand, has typically needed extremely high temperatures or hazardous chemicals to be useable. It is the best qualities of glass – optical properties and high thermal and chemical resilience – that make the material so difficult to work with.
Now for the first time, using a process developed by a team from Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, complex form of glass can be manufactures in 3D printing. True3DGlass is viscous at room temperature and is cured using light, which makes the material far more accessible and useable than ever before. Heating the liquid material removes the small amounts of polymers from the mix, leaving behind a high purity quartz glass structure. The team anticipates the technology being used in science labs, computer development and eye care.
The potential uses for 3D printing appear endless, with the process already being used in a range of industries from healthcare to building construction. Lab-grown bone replacements are being used to help improve reconstructive surgery for bomb blast survivors, and architects are experimenting with 3D printing bio-plastic for tourist cabins in Amsterdam and as temporary emergency shelters. What types of guidelines, rules or laws could be put in place to help ensure the sustainability of large-scale 3D printing?