Most of all current 3D printers print plastic objects, but that might soon change. Recently, more and more companies started to experiment with different kinds of materials. MakerBot amazed the technological world with their CES announcement to release new composite filaments that incorporate, inter alia, iron and limestone. Another interesting development is that of 3D printing glass. All over the world, lots of companies are experimenting with 3D printed eyeglasses and even printed lenses. Now, an English institute for glass research and development uses part of a governmental investment of 8,4 million pounds to research and develop glass and metal printing services in the country.
Glass Technology Servies Ltd. (GTS) is the name of the company which will be focussing on glass printing. The company will not be doing this alone, as it participates with, inter alia, JRI Orthopedics, 3T RPD and Delta T Devices. They met with Business Secretary Vince Cable at Conventry’s Manufacturing Technology Centre. In a statement, Cable said the technique could lead to more jobs and economic growth throughout the UK. More specifically, he noted:
Investing in tomorrow’s technology will bring jobs and economic growth throughout the UK. That’s why the Government has announced the biggest ever investment in the work of the Technology Strategy Board, who will support new manufacturing techniques to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in technology and design. This joint investment with the Research Councils highlights the commitment from across the sector to boost manufacturing in the UK.
GTS’s goal is to be interpenetrating 3D glass and metallic composite structures onto 3D surfaces. In addition, they aim to ultimately enable the design and manufacture of ‘orthopaedic implants’ which will have faster integration with bone. The goal is to improve the recovery rates for patients and create savings for health service. In other words, they will be working on composite filaments to improve the health system of the UK. Or, in the words of Rob Ireson, GTS’s Innovation Team Leader:
Developing new technologies is crucial to advancing our understanding and capabilities in material science. We are very proud to be joining experts from the AM design and supply chain, to develop a novel solution for orthopaedic implants.
Glass printing is an interesting part of 3D printing, with which even HP is rumored to be working. Also Dutch company LuxeXcel is at the forefront of this technology, and designs 3D printed eyewear. Such a technique works as follows: if you need glasses to improve your sight, then LuxeXcel lets you undergo an eye test on the computer which sends the test results to a 3D printer. The machine prints out the glasses, and there you go. The best part about it is that they can be made on a more personalized and fast way.
Image credits: Glass Technology Servies Ltd. (GTS).