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article imageScientists deploy 3D printer to print glass

By Tim Sandle     Apr 20, 2019 in Technology
Scientists have developed a 3D printing technique to to print glass, for the first time. The printer represents another step forwards with additive manufacturing. The fabrication of chalcogenide glass will enable the manufacturing of optical components.
By successfully 3D printing chalcogenide glass, the researchers, from Université Laval in Canada, have paved the way for techniques to produce optical components that can can operate at mid-infrared wavelengths. This ability to 3D print glass will lead to the manufacture complex glass components and optical fibers needed for a range of applications, such as low-cost sensors, telecommunications components and biomedical devices.
The types of materials produced a very precise and very small, with the typical 3D printed glass sample being just 14 millimeters long. The material used - chalcogenide glass - is a type of glass formed of one or more chalcogens (such as sulfur, selenium and tellurium). Chalcogenide materials behave rather differently from other types of glass, in terms of optical and electrical properties. The main uses are with infrared detectors, infrared optics including lenses, and infrared optical fibers.
READ MORE: 3D printing is helping transform the lighting sector
Key to developing the process was controlling the temperature of the glass as it was manipulated by the specially designed printer. Good temperature control was necessary to enable chalcogenide glass extrusion. The researchers plan to work further on the 3D printer in order to increase the performance and also to enable additive manufacturing of even more complex parts.
According to chief scientist Yannick Ledemi: "3D printing of optical materials will pave the way for a new era of designing and combining materials to produce the photonic components and fibers of the future. This new method could potentially result in a breakthrough for efficient manufacturing of infrared optical components at a low cost."
The new process has been published in the journal Optical Materials Express. The research paper is headed "3D-printing of arsenic sulfide chalcogenide glasses."
READ MORE: 4D-printed materials created as stiff as wood or soft as sponge
More about 3D printing, additive printing, Glass, Model, Printing
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