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Glass Industry Is In Trouble, 3D-Printed Crystals Now Possible

Glass Beer Mug.Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay

For centuries, the glass industry has had no competition. It offered pristine options that affected everything from containers to furniture, to decors. Then plastic came along and stole some of its thunder, but it still thrived. With the advent of 3D-printed glass, however, could the glass industry be in a lot of trouble?

The discovery was made by German researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Phys.org reports. Publishing their findings in the journal Nature, the scientists described their technique to create items that are printed from pure glass.

The team basically starts the process with the creation of “liquid glass,” which is made via mixing glass nanoparticles into a liquid solution. The resulting substance is then used like ink, which traces forms to create 3D shapes. This discovery is momentous enough for Nature editor Karl Ziemelis to write a piece about it right along the published paper.

As to the potential uses of this technology, the researchers highlighted several areas in which it will be the most helpful. However, it doesn’t really take much of an imagination to see the impact that this kind of technology would have. Most of modern technology makes use of glass or crystalline elements to work and being able to mass-produce these items via 3D-printing can have a huge effect on various industries.

3D-printing is already being used to create things like shoes and airplane parts, The Verge reports. Doing so with glass with the ability to control purity and clarity makes it a game changer. It’s also bad news for the glass industry since machines and computers inevitably perform better at these kinds of tasks than humans in a capitalist society.

What really makes this new technique stand out from past attempts at printing glass is the fact that it can be easily done with existing methods and technology. All that was missing was the “liquid glass” that the researchers developed.

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