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Three-dimensional printing of multicomponent glasses using phase-separating resins

Abstract

The digital fabrication of oxide glasses by three-dimensional (3D) printing represents a major paradigm shift in the way glasses are designed and manufactured, opening opportunities to explore functionalities inaccessible by current technologies. The few enticing examples of 3D printed glasses are limited in their chemical compositions and suffer from the low resolution achievable with particle-based or molten glass technologies. Here, we report a digital light-processing 3D printing platform that exploits the photopolymerization-induced phase separation of hybrid resins to create glass parts with complex shapes, high spatial resolutions and multi-oxide chemical compositions. Analogously to conventional porous glass fabrication methods, we exploit phase separation phenomena to fabricate complex glass parts displaying light-controlled multiscale porosity and dense multicomponent transparent glasses with arbitrary geometry using a desktop printer. Because most functional properties of glasses emerge from their transparency and multicomponent nature, this 3D printing platform may be useful for distinct technologies, sciences and arts.

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Fig. 1: DLP 3D printing of phase-separating resins.
Fig. 2: Resin composition determines the degree of phase separation during DLP printing.
Fig. 3: Light-controlled pore size in 3D printed glass objects.
Fig. 4: Boro-phospho-silicate (BPS) glasses obtained by 3D printing of phase-separating resins.

Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding authors on reasonable request.

Code availability

The *.stl and encoded microstructure print files are available from the corresponding authors on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation through the National Centre of Competence in Research for Bio-Inspired Materials. Additional support by the Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research (SCCER—Capacity Area A3: Minimization of Energy Demand) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (consolidator grant no. BSCGIO_157696) is also acknowledged. The authors thank D. Naselli for helpful discussions and A. Lauria for support with the photoluminescence measurements.

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D.G.M., L.B., K.M. and A.R.S. conceived the idea together and designed the experiments. For the experimental work, D.G.M. focused more on the alkoxide chemistry, L.B. developed the sintering procedure and K.M. programmed the 3D printing microstructure. All the remaining experimental work was carried out by D.G.M., L.B. and K.M. D.G.M., L.B., K.M. and A.R.S. conducted the analysis and co-wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and their implications, and revised the manuscript at all stages.

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Correspondence to Kunal Masania or André R. Studart.

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The authors have filed patent application EP18191209.8 related to this work.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary Figs. 1–7 and Supplementary references.

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Moore, D.G., Barbera, L., Masania, K. et al. Three-dimensional printing of multicomponent glasses using phase-separating resins. Nat. Mater. 19, 212–217 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-019-0525-y

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