As a consequence of the properties of glass, such as transparency, thermal stability and resistance to acids, the use of this material in 3D-printing opens up manifold new applications in production and research, such as optics, data transmission, and biotechnology.
The scientists mix nanoparticles of high-purity quartz glass and a small quantity of liquid polymer and allow this mixture to be cured by light at specific points – by means of stereolithog-raphy. The material, which has remained liquid, is washed out in a solvent bath, leaving only the desired cured structure. The polymer still mixed in this glass structure is subsequently removed by heat-ing.
"The shape initially resembles that of a pound cake; it is still unstable, and therefore the glass is sintered in a final step, i.e. heated so that the glass particles are fused," explains Rapp.