A tiny 3D-printed glass castle. Each crennelation is about the width of a human hair.
A demonstration of the heat resistance of a printed glass structure.
Ancient material meets advanced technology. Researchers in Germany have developed a way to make clear, smooth, and intricate glass structures using 3D printing. The work, described in today's issue of Nature, means optical-grade glass can be 3D printed for the first time, and opens up a host of new possibilities. Glassmaking is at least 5,000 years old, and produces a material so ubiquitous you probably never think about it. Glass is used everywhere we need to bend or transmit light; in our windows and spectacles, in lenses and mirrors, from the optical fibres that transmit data around the world to the ultra-smooth mirrors on the Hubble Space Telescope.