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Researchers manufacture cost-effective and environmentally friendly glass materials

The complex structure of clear fused silica produced by injection molding of the newly developed Glassomer composite. Credit: Glassomer GmbH

Glass is widely used in high-tech products in the fields of optics, telecommunications, chemistry and medicine, as well as everyday items such as bottles and windows. However, glass molding is primarily based on processes such as melting, grinding and etching. These processes are decades old, technically demanding, energy intensive, and severely limited in terms of the shape they can achieve. A team led by Dr. Bastian E. Lap of the Institute of Process Technology, Department of Microsystems Engineering, University of Freiburg, collaborates with Freiburg-based startup Glassomer for the first time to use injection molding to make glass. A process that makes it easy, quick, and able to mold into almost any shape.Researchers published results in journal Science..


“Glass has been the second choice when it comes to materials in the manufacturing process for decades, as its formation is too complex, it consumes a lot of energy and is unsuitable for producing high resolution structures. Often, “Rapp explains. “On the other hand, polymers have made all this possible, but their physical, optical, chemical and thermal properties are inferior to glass. As a result, we have combined polymer and glass treatments. The process can be quick and costly.-Effectively replace both mass-produced products and complex polymer structures and components with glass. “

Injection molding is the most important process in the plastics industry, allowing components to be manufactured quickly and cost-effectively with so-called high throughput in almost any shape and size. Until now, it was not possible to mold transparent glass in this process. The Glassomer injection molding technology, newly developed from special in-house designed granules, has also made it possible to mold glass at high throughput at just 130 ° C. The injection molded components from the 3D printer are then converted to glass in a heat treatment process. The result is pure quartz glass. This process requires less energy than traditional glass melting and is more energy efficient. Molded glass parts have high surface quality and do not require post-treatment such as polishing.

  • Researchers manufacture cost-effective and environmentally friendly glass materials

    A transparent quartz glass gear manufactured by injection molding of the newly developed Glassomer composite. Credit: Glassomer GmbH

  • Researchers manufacture cost-effective and environmentally friendly glass materials

    Injection molding of the newly developed Glassomer composite makes it possible to produce transparent quartz glass beakers. The beaker is filled with dyed water or fluorescent fluid. Credit: Glassomer GmbH

The innovative designs made possible by Glassomer’s glass injection molding technology have a wide range of applications, from data technology, optical technology and solar technology to so-called lab-on-a-chip and medical technology. “Especially for small high-tech glass parts with complex shapes, there is great potential. In addition to transparency, the very low coefficient of expansion of quartz glass also makes the technology interesting. If there are major parts, sensors and optical parts Works reliably at any temperature. It’s made of glass, “explains Dr. Frederikkotz, Group Leader of the Institute for Process Technology and Chief Scientific Officer of Glassomer. “We were also able to show that microoptical glass coatings can increase the efficiency of solar cells. This technology can now be used to produce cost-effective high-tech coatings with high thermal stability. It. “

  • Researchers manufacture cost-effective and environmentally friendly glass materials

    A characteristic light refraction pattern when the microstructure is irradiated with a laser. Credit: Glassomer GmbH

  • Researchers manufacture cost-effective and environmentally friendly glass materials

    Glassomer injection molded granules and injection molded structures. Credit: Glassomer GmbH

Teams around Frederik Kotz and Markus Mader, PhD students at the Institute of Process Technology, have solved existing problems in injection molding of glass, such as porosity and particle wear. In addition, the key process steps of the new method are designed to use water as the base material, making the technology more environmentally friendly and sustainable.


Process glass like a polymer


For more information:
High-throughput injection molding of transparent fused silica glass. Science, DOI: 10.1126 / science.abf1537

Courtesy of Freiburg University

Quote: Researchers are cost-effective and environmentally friendly, obtained from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-cost-effective-environmentally-friendly-glass-material.html on April 9, 2021. Manufactures glass materials (April 9, 2021)

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Researchers manufacture cost-effective and environmentally friendly glass materials

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