With the new Glass Printing Explorer Set, Nanoscribe presented the first commercially available high-precision additive manufacturing process and material for 3D Microfabrication of fused silica glass microstructures.
The new photoresin GP-Silica is the centerpiece of the Glass Printing Explorer Set and the world’s only photoresin for fused silica glass microfabrication. The printing material stands out due to its high optical transparency combined with excellent thermal, mechanical and chemical properties. This opens up opportunities in exploring new applications in life sciences, microfluidics, micro-optics, material engineering and other microtechnology fields.
The Glass Printing Explorer Set
The Glass Printing Explorer Set is beneficial for high-precision 3D printing of applications for which high-temperature resistance combined which mechanical and chemical stability, as well as optical transparency, are crucial. Two-Photon Polymerization (2PP) of fused silica glass advances the exploration of new applications in life sciences, microfluidics, micro-optics and other fields by providing researchers with the superior properties of glass.
“GP-Silica has great potential for our research manufacturing complex microfluidics systems, although the required thermal post-processing is demanding”, said Professor Dr. Nicolas Muller, Assistant Professor and Head of Graphical Printing at the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (Switzerland), summarizing the opportunities offered by the photoresin with regard to his intended research projects.
A new class of materials for 3D Microfabrication
The new photoresin GP-Silica establishes a new material class for Two-Photon Polymerization based 3D Microfabrication. The inorganic printing material is a composite of silica nanoparticles dispersed in a photocurable binder matrix and features outstanding characteristics of silica glass, such as high mechanical, thermal and chemical stability.
This enables the 3D printing of glass microstructures with smooth optical quality surfaces. Due to an optical transmission window that extends from the UV to the infrared region, the new material is also suitable for imaging applications in life sciences, microfluidics, microreactors or microoptics.
Combining 3D printing with glass
The new photoresin is a novel material for 3D Microfabrication and optimized for Nanoscribe 3D printers. As typical for glass manufacturing, thermal treatments are necessary: The fabrication process starts with the familiar high-precision 3D printing process of microstructures. The resulting green parts consist of silica nanoparticles homogeneously suspended in a polymer binder matrix.
In a two-stage thermal process, the polymer is first removed from the printed microstructure. In a second step, the silica nanoparticles fuse together to form the final microstructure of pure fused silica glass (see image). All in all, the Glass Printing Explorer Set is the optimal starting point for the high-precision additive manufacturing of glass microstructures that feature material properties that are identical to that of other commercially available fused silica.