3D-printing of glass ? Yes Its Possible

Three-dimensional printing allows extremely small and complex structures to be made even in small series. A method developed at the KIT for the first time allows also glass to be used for this technique. 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 process is published in “Nature” and also presented at the Hanover Fair. 

Complicated high-precision structures made of glass can be manufactured in a 3D-printing process.

Glass is one of mankind’s oldest materials. It was used as far back as in ancient Egypt and ancient Rome and has found a place now also in manufacturing technology of the 21st century.

The scientists mix nano-particles 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 stereo lithography. 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 heating.

“The shape initially resembles that of a pound cake; it is still unstable, and therefore the glass is splintered in a final step, i.e. heated so that the glass particles are fused”. The scientists present the method in the “Nature” journal under the title of “Three-dimensional Printing of Transparent Fused Silica Glass.”

The variety of 3D-printing techniques available so far have been used on polymers or metals, but never on glass. Where glass was processed into structures, for instance by melting and application by means of a nozzle, the surface turned out to be very rough, the material was porous and contained voids.

“We present a new method, an innovation in materials processing, in which the material of the piece manufactured is high-purity quartz glass with the respective chemical and physical properties,”. The glass structures made by the KIT scientists show resolutions in the range of a few micrometers – one micrometer corresponding to one thousandth of a millimeter. However, the structures may have dimensions in the range of a few centimeters.

3D-formed glass can be used, for instance, in data technology. “The next plus one generation of computers will use light, which requires complicated processor structures; 3D-technology could be used, for instance, to make small, complex structures out of a large number of very small optical components of different orientations,” explains the mechanical engineer.

For biological and medical technologies, very small analytical systems could be made out of miniaturized glass tubes. In addition, 3D-shaped micro-structures of glass could be employed in a variety of optical areas, from eyeglasses meeting special requirements to lenses in laptop cameras.

Internet of Things (IoT) – Is It Really A New Thing ?


The IoT is a popular buzzword in the computing industry, it appears in the marketing campaigns of major networking companies such as microprocessor giants .However, the phrase represents ideas that have existed since the beginning of the Web or been written about in whitepapers from well-known research laboratories.

So why isn’t the IoT a standard part of the way we do business today? Why is it still the subject of speculation and vision statements in keynote addresses at well-known computer industry events such as the annual Consumer Electronics Show?

The answer appears to be that the IoT exists for a small number of technologies that have the ingredients for a successful business case. In general, these early systems have tended to be closed ecosystems, using private APIs and locking up the data. This is counter to the spirit of open systems at the heart of the original Internet standards, reflecting instead the more recent commercial successes of proprietary business entities.

You can actually buy home automation systems that connect to the Internet through your home’s Wi-Fi. These systems are usually built with a bridge that controls the automation components through proprietary protocols on one side and communicates with open protocols to a proprietary Web service on the other.

Users can then employ desktop computers or smartphones as a client to control their home by interacting with the Internet service, effectively providing user interface hardware at no cost to the IoT device manufacturer.


FIGURE  Various forms of electronic tags support the Physical Web (all about the size of a quarter): (1) a near-field communication (NFC) tag; (2) a quick response (QR) code; and (3) a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) tag. However, it is not clear which technology—each with its own affordances and problems—will become the primary IoT enabler.

A significant hurdle to fully realizing the IoT relates to scale— specifically, expanding the Internet to IoT scale means that the address space for the Internet will need to increase by several orders of magnitude. Therefore, another requirement for supporting the IoT is a larger device address space than that provided by IPv4.

To enable this kind of expansion, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has been working on the IPv6 standard for some time. When the transition is complete, the address space will be large enough to support every object on the planet, enabling embedded computers of all sizes to be easily integrated into the Internet.

However, a large percentage of the objects in the IoT will not be suitable for direct wired or wireless connection to the Internet, falling into the class of passive devices.

For these objects, a tag, smartphone, and proxy Web service is needed to provide users with the object’s Web presence. Of all the visionary ideas around the IoT, this one has made the least progress to date.

Enabling the World of Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm enables interconnected among device anytime, anywhere on the planet—providing the Internet’s advantages in all aspects of daily life. Analysts predict that the IoT will comprise up to 26 billion interconnected devices by 2020.

The conventional Internet has proved valuable in almost all endeavors by giving people the ability to interact with global information and services. The majority of this interaction happens through the World Wide Web, with client computers running a browser and communicating with cloud-based servers. However, the Internet is not limited to the Web: a wide diversity of other protocols are employed to make use of global Internet connectivity.

The IoT is considered to be the next logical evolution, providing extensive services in manufacturing, smart grids, security, healthcare, automotive engineering, education, and consumer electronics. Many of these systems already have a Web presence but use protocols that are largely Web independent.

Practical issues with the IoT vision must be addressed, including how to handle dramatic increases in network scale and how to determine device proximity, sometimes referred to as localized scalability.

In an IoT world, preferentially discovering things nearby and letting users interact with them is a powerful mechanism for overcoming a global network’s scale and complexity. Other important IoT enablers are peer-to-peer connections, low-latency real-time interaction, and integration of devices that have little or no processing capability.


The Web provides an important interaction model for the IoT by letting users get device-related information and in some cases control their devices through the ubiquitous Web browser. The conventional Web is a convenience we enjoy as we search for information, respond to email, shop, and engage in social networking; the IoT would expand these capabilities to include interactions with a wide spectrum of appliances and electronic devices that are already ubiquitous in the early 21st century.

We refer to devices that are part of the IoT and directly accessed, monitored, or controlled by Web technologies as the Physical Web: Physical Web = Web technology + IoT. Identifiers are the key to enabling any kind of interaction among devices. From an IoT perspective, IPv6’s 128-bit addresses serve as identifiers for a global network of devices.

Alternatively, Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs), which include both locators and names, provide a higher level concept that bridges those devices to existing Web technology. The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is used in conjunction with a Distributed Name Service (DNS) to route and connect to services. Uniform Resource Names (URNs), such as globally unique IDs, are resolved by scheme-specific methods.

A distinguishing aspect of the Physical Web is to consider URIs as the primary identified Many researchers and practitioners in this field, including the authors of this article, expand the IoT definition to include enabling an Internet presence for any person, place, or thing on the planet, thereby pushing our notion of the Physical Web beyond smart devices.

Clearly, an Internet presence cannot occur without processing and networking, so instead of providing them directly, an Internet service can provide information and perform actions via other nearby devices serving as a gateway to that proxy service.

Gateway devices will enable billions of people, places, and things to participate in the IoT—most people today already carry one. The smartphone, the most popular computing device of all time, with more than 1 billion users, is well equipped to serve as this pervasive portal. Figure shows the two distinct interaction modes that smartphones can enable in the IoT. Through direct interaction, a smartphone can query the state of an IoT device in its proximity and then provide a bridge between low level peer-to-peer protocols, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and Internet protocols, such as HTTP and TCP.

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One example is the fitness monitor, which uploads a user’s step count through his or her phone over a 4G network to the user’s account in the cloud. Through proxy interaction, mobile users who happen to be near an IoT-enabled object or device can look up associated information published by interested parties through a Web service using their smartphone, just as they would when performing a Web search. One example is a movie poster that enables nearby people to automatically access a webpage on their smartphone and buy electronic tickets online.