Swiss scientists have developed a method of 3D printing that allows to print glass objects with complex structure, using different materials, but without using high heat during printing, which do not allow for other methods. Article published in Nature Materials.
3D printing is often used in two cases: when you want to quickly create the required forms not creating under it a streamlined production process with expensive molds and other equipment, or when it is necessary to make a detail with a complex structure, which is more expensive to create by casting or other classical methods. For the second cases, engineers have long been developing printers, printing not polymers, and other materials, including ceramics, glass, and even chocolate.
However, glass, ceramics and other similar materials is inconvenient to use in 3D printing because of its high melting temperature. As a solution, some groups of scientists have proposed to first print the blank precursor glass, and then carry out high temperature annealing so that the printer does not need to adapt to high temperature. Until now, these methods showed only silicon oxide, but now there is a more universal method.
Scientists from ETH Zurich under the guidance of Andre Studart (Andre Studart) learn to apply a similar principle to compositions of different oxides. The researchers used the method of digital light processing (DLP) — uses a solution of photocurable polymeric precursor, which is lit in the right places the light, so that in a liquid solution formed solid object.