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World’s Smallest Wine Glass 3D Printed With Breakthrough Glass Printing Technique

Researchers develop simplified method for 3D printing silica glass structures, opening up new possibilities

The world’s smallest wine glass – with a rim thinner than a human hair – has been made using a 3D printer.

The glass was created to show a new simplified technique for using silica glass structures for a range of different applications.

Silica glass is a clear and strong material created when pure silica is fused at a high temperature.

It can be used for customized lenses for medical machinery that performs minimally invasive surgery and for microrobots that can navigate extreme environments.

It can also be used for filters and couplers for fiber-optic networks.

Normally hours of extreme heat, up to several hundred degrees, are needed to create this type of glass, but the new technique can overcome this previous requirement, drastically reducing the energy needed.

“The advantage of our method is there’s no need for thermal treatment and the glass can withstand extreme heat in applications,” said Po-Han Huang, Study author and a doctoral student at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden.

The world’s smallest 3D-printed wineglass. PO-HAN HUANG/KTH RIT VIA SWNS.

Another benefit is that the method can produce silica glass using readily available, commercial materials.

Eliminating the need for thermal treatment increases the possibility for the technique to be used widely in various application scenarios.

“The concerns when integrating 3D printing methods are usually different for different applications,” said Huang.

“Even though optimization of our method is still required for different applications, we believe our method presents an important and necessary breakthrough for 3D glass printing to be used in practical scenarios.”

The researchers produced a fiberoptic filter and showed that the technique can print devices directly on the tip of an optical fiber as thin as a strand of human hair.

“The backbone of the internet is based on optical fibers made of glass,” said Dr. Kristinn Gylfason, an associate professor of Micro- and Nanosystems at KTH.

“In those systems, all kinds of filters and couplers are needed that can now be 3D printed by our technique.

“This opens many new possibilities.”

“Definitely nobody has 3D printed a wine glass that consists of glass as-printed,” said Huang.

The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager

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