According to the 3D printing material,” using glass is difficult because of the high temperatures required to melt the material used for 3D printing. Technologies for 3D printing using glass exist so far mainly in research labs and Universities. Some of these efforts are described below.
In 2009, researchers at Solheim Rapid Manufacturing Laboratory of University of Washington developed a process called Vitraglyphic. In this process, powdered glass is mixed with an adhesive material and loaded into a 3D printer. A binder is deposited into the powdered mixture and used for 3D printing shapes. These shapes were put in a kiln so that the layers of glass fuse and create a solid glass object. The team used the similar procedure to 3D print ceramics objects.
In another effort, researchers led by Professor Neri Oxman of MIT’s Mediated Matter Group developed a 3D printer that extrudes molten glass. The 3D printer maintains a nozzle through which the glass is extruded at temperatures of about 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit. This is significantly higher than the temperatures used for other 3D printing, for example, plastic.
An Israel based company Micron3DP has also announced that they have developed an extruder that can 3D print using molten glass at temperatures as high as 1640 degrees Celsius”.:).
Micron3DP Develops Technology for 3D Printing Using Molten Glass
According to the Israel based company Micron3DP,” they have announced that they have developed technology for 3D printing objects using molten glass. Micron3DP specializes in high-end extruders, hot ends, and accessories for 3d printing. They have developed an extruder for extruding extremely hot molten glass. The extruder can 3D print objects using soft glass or soda-lime glass at a temperature of 850 degrees Celsius. The extruder can even extrude hard glass or borosilicate glass at a temperature of 1640 degrees Celsius. Micron3DP is looking for investors to invest in their glass 3D printing technology”.:)
Solar Sinter: A Solar Powered 3D Printer for Making Glass Objects from Sand
According to the SLS (selective laser sintering),” this is one of the processes used by 3D printers. The SLS process uses the powdered raw material such as plastic, glass, metal, ceramic. A laser is directed at the powdered material to selectively fuse the material. Layers of the fused material are created to form a 3D object.
Markus Kayser, a designer and researcher born in Germany used the idea behind the SLS technology to develop solar sinter, a 3D printer that uses sand as the powdered raw material and solar energy to produce glass objects. Both solar energy and sand are available in abundance for free. So once a solar sinter is made, an unlimited supply of 3D objects can be created for free.
The first solar sinter was manually operated and tested in the Moroccan desert in 2011. A larger and fully-automated computer driven solar sinter was subsequently developed and tested in Egypt, near Sahara desert in 2012. This is a brilliant and thought to provoke experiment”. According to Markus Kayser, “The machine and the results of these first experiments presented here represent the initial significant steps towards what I envisage as a new solar-powered production tool of great potential.”:)
LUXeXcel: 3D Printing Functional Optical Components
According to the Conventional 3D printing techniques,” we are not able to 3D print functional optics. These 3D printers may be able to 3D print transparent materials but fail to achieve optical properties such as surface roughness and scattering. LUXeXcel, a company based in The Netherlands has developed print optical technology that can 3D print fully transparent, smooth and optically functional optical components such as lenses.
LUXeXcel uses a photopolymer material for 3D printing. LUXeXcel created world’s first 3D printed reading glasses including the frames and the lenses for the Dutch Monarchs. However, their services are not limited to the royalty but available to general public as well. LUXeXcel’s website allows users to upload designs and order 3D printed optics. The design can be uploaded in a variety of file formats and has to conform to their design guidelines. They promise to 3D print a design within 5 working days of placing the order. The print optical technology has used in automotive, medical, lighting, aerospace, and other industries”.:)
According to the 3D printing,” using plastic has limited scope due to the fragile nature of plastic. Any serious manufacturing is not possible without using metal. 3D printing using metal or Metal Additive Manufacturing has seen significant growth recently. Metals are 3D printed by melting metal powder using a laser beam to fuse it into a solid part. Metals used for 3D printing include stainless steel, aluminium, bronze, copper, silver, gold, alloys of titanium, cobalt, titanium, nickel, among others.
3D printing of metals is used in several industries including aerospace, automobile industry, jewellery, medical, among others. The medical industry, for example, dental and orthopaedics benefits with the ability to customize parts for specific individuals. The quality of the 3D printed metal objects is comparable to objects made by conventional manufacturing processes. Manufacturing based on 3D printing results in very little waste compared to conventional manufacturing. Therefore Metal Additive Manufacturing continues to grow and become a significant part of manufacture”.:)
3D Printing Materials: Metal mixed with ABS or PLA
According to the Some vendors,” they provide filaments based on metal. These filaments mix metal with ABS, thereby allowing desktop 3D printers to be able to use them. Most of these filaments can be printed at the temperature similar to PLA or ABS used in the filament. Examples of these filaments are as follows”.
Bronzefill Filament: A bronze fill filament is made of eighty per cent bronze and twenty per cent PLA. Having a mix of metal and PLA allows the filament to work with desktop 3D printers. A bronze fill 3D printed object can be polished to make it shine. A similar filament is copper fill filament that is made of copper particles mixed with PLA.
Proto-Pasta’s Stainless Steel Filament: A filament called Proto-Pasta’s Stainless Steel combines PLA with finely ground stainless steel particles. The 3D printed object has the steel like properties including weight, density, and texture. The proto-pasta filament is not stronger than PLA because the steel is in powdered form. Nor is the proto-pasta filament conductive because the steel particles are separated by PLA.
Proto-Pasta’s Magnetic Iron Filament: Proto-Pasta’s magnetic iron filament is made of PLA and iron powder. It acts like iron and is attracted towards magnets. It even rusts like iron. However, since the iron particles are separated by PLA, the magnetic iron filament is not conductive.
Tungsten Metal ABS Filament: Another metal filament called GMASS Tungsten Metal ABS Filament includes ABS and Tungsten. Adding tungsten to ABS gives the filament a metal feel and also makes it heavier like metal. Also, the material has radiation shielding properties.
Bismuth Metal ABS filament: Another metal filament is GMASS Bismuth Metal ABS filament made of ABS and bismuth. This filament is also radiation shielding (but contains no lead) and can be used for creating parts for use in medical environments.
According to the Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA),” this is a type of petroleum-based plastic that is water soluble. It is biodegradable and recyclable, and non-toxic. It can be extruded at temperatures of 190-210 deg C. It is relatively expensive compared to materials such as PLA and ABS. Due to its ability to dissolve in water, PVA based material must be stored carefully, away from water and moisture. For example, it can be stored in sealed bags with silica gel. Once removed from its packaging PVA can absorb moisture.
Since PVA is water soluble, it is used for providing support for overhanging portions of objects being 3D printed. The 3D printer has to be capable of extruding two materials. A PVA based structure is 3D printed before the overhang portions. The overhang portions are 3D printed, with support from the PVA based structure. The final 3D printed object is put in water to let the PVA based support structure dissolve. After the PVA based support structure dissolves, what remains is the 3D printed object with overhangs”.:)
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