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High-throughput injection molding of transparent fused silica glass

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Science  09 Apr 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6538, pp. 182-186
DOI: 10.1126/science.abf1537

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Shaping silica like a polymer

Glass is tremendously useful, but it is energy intensive to make because of the high melting temperature and processing methods that require melts. Mader et al. circumvented the need for melting glass using a plastic silica nanocomposite for injection molding (see the Perspective by Dylla-Spears). The low-temperature injection molding can produce parts in as little as 5 seconds with high spatial resolution. The strategy provides a different and potentially less energy-intensive method for mass producing parts made of glass.

Science, this issue p. 182; see also p. 126

Abstract

Glass is one of the most relevant high-performance materials that has the benefit of a favorable environmental footprint compared with that of other commodity materials. Despite the advantageous properties of glasses, polymers are often favored because they can be processed using scalable industrial replication techniques like injection molding (IM). Glasses are generally processed through melting, which is both energy intensive and technologically challenging. We present a process for glassworks using high-throughput IM of an amorphous silicon dioxide nanocomposite that combines established process technologies and low-energy sintering. We produce highly transparent glass using classical IM and sintering, allowing for a potentially substantial reduction in energy consumption. Our strategy merges polymer and glass processing, with substantial implications for glass utilization.

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