March 5, 2024

Innovative 3D-Printing Technology Creates Glass Microstructures With Rays of Light

Glass is frequently the chosen product for developing complicated tiny things, including lenses in compact, high-quality cams utilized in smart devices and endoscopes, in addition to microfluidic gadgets utilized to analyze or process minute amounts of liquid. Nevertheless, present production approaches can be slow, costly, and limited in their ability to fulfill the markets increasing needs.
The CAL process is fundamentally various from todays industrial 3D-printing production processes, which construct up objects from thin layers of product. CAL, nevertheless, 3D-prints the whole item simultaneously.
This study pushes the boundaries of CAL to show its ability to print microscale features in glass structures. “When we first released this approach in 2019, CAL could print items into polymers with functions to about a 3rd of a millimeter in size,” said Hayden Taylor, principal investigator and teacher of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley.
” Now, with micro-CAL, we can print items in polymers with functions to about 20 millionths of a meter, or about a quarter of a human hairs breadth. And for the first time, we have revealed how this approach can print not just into polymers but likewise into glass, with features to about 50 millionths of a meter.”.
Scientists at UC Berkeley have actually established a new method to 3D print intricate glass microstructures, including this tetrakaidecahedron lattice structure. Credit: Photo by Adam Lau/UC Berkeley.
To print the glass, Taylor and his research team worked together with researchers from the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, who have developed an unique resin product containing nanoparticles of glass surrounded by a light-sensitive binder liquid. Digital light projections from the printer solidify the binder, then the researchers heat the printed object to get rid of the binder and fuse the particles together into a strong object of pure glass.
” The crucial enabler here is that the binder has a refractive index that is virtually similar to that of the glass, so that light passes through the material with essentially no scattering,” said Taylor. -developed product are an ideal match for each other.”.
Scanning electron micrograph of cubic lattice with 20 micrometer lattice members. Credit: Photo by Joseph Toombs/UC Berkeley.
The research study group, which consisted of lead author Joseph Toombs, a Ph.D. trainee in Taylors laboratory, also ran tests and discovered that the CAL-printed glass objects had more constant strength than those used a traditional layer-based printing procedure. “Glass things tend to break more easily when they consist of more cracks or defects, or have a rough surface area,” said Taylor. “CALs capability to make objects with smoother surfaces than other, layer-based 3D-printing processes is for that reason a huge potential benefit.”.
UC Berkeley college student Joseph Toombs uses tweezers to get a glass lattice structure that was developed using an ingenious brand-new 3D-printing technique. Credit: Photo by Adam Lau/UC Berkeley.
The CAL 3D-printing approach provides manufacturers of microscopic glass items a new and more efficient way to satisfy customers requiring requirements for geometry, size and optical and mechanical residential or commercial properties. Specifically, this includes makers of tiny optical elements, which are an essential part of compact video cameras, virtual truth headsets, advanced microscopes and other clinical instruments. “Being able to make these parts faster and with more geometric liberty could potentially result in new device functions or lower-cost products,” said Taylor.
Recommendation: “Volumetric additive manufacturing of silica glass with microscale calculated axial lithography” by Joseph T. Toombs, Manuel Luitz, Caitlyn C. Cook, Sophie Jenne, Chi Chung Li, Bastian E. Rapp, Frederik Kotz-Helmer and Hayden K. Taylor, 14 April 2022, Science.DOI: 10.1126/ science.abm6459.
This study was funded by the National Science Foundation, the European Research Council, the Carl Zeiss Foundation, the German Research Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a new method to 3D-print glass microstructures, including these 3D printed glass lattices, which are displayed in front of a U.S. cent for scale. Credit: Photo by Joseph Toombs/UC Berkeley
The production technique allows faster production, greater optical quality, and style versatility.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a brand-new method to 3D-print glass microstructures that is much faster and produces objects with higher optical quality, style flexibility, and strength, according to a brand-new study published in the journal Science.
A 3D-printed, trifurcated microtubule model. Credit: Video by Adam Lau/Berkeley Engineering
Working with scientists from the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg in Germany, the scientists extended the abilities of a 3D-printing procedure they developed three years ago– computed axial lithography (CAL)– to print much finer features and to print in glass. They called this new system “micro-CAL.”.

The CAL procedure is fundamentally different from todays commercial 3D-printing production processes, which develop up objects from thin layers of material.” The crucial enabler here is that the binder has a refractive index that is virtually similar to that of the glass, so that light passes through the product with essentially no scattering,” stated Taylor. The research team, which included lead author Joseph Toombs, a Ph.D. student in Taylors lab, likewise ran tests and discovered that the CAL-printed glass objects had more consistent strength than those made utilizing a standard layer-based printing process. “Glass things tend to break more quickly when they consist of more defects or cracks, or have a rough surface,” stated Taylor. The CAL 3D-printing technique uses producers of tiny glass items a new and more effective method to meet clients demanding requirements for geometry, size and optical and mechanical properties.