Lithoz Launches 3D Printable Quartz Glass

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Lithoz, the Austria-based original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and leader in ceramics 3D printing, announced that the company has launched a new quartz glass-based slurry for 3D printing applications. The product, called LithaGlass, is the result of a partnership between Lithoz and Glassomer, a producer of glass-based materials headquartered in Germany.

Glassomer has been selling fused silica glass (FSG) for additive manufacturing (AM) for several years now, but its activity in the AM sector has thus far been largely relegated to desktop machines and microprinting. The achievement of compatibility with Lithoz’s Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM) platforms signals accelerating demand for FSG printing materials that can be used in increasingly large production runs of end-use parts.

In a press release about the launch of LithaGlass, the CEO of Lithoz, Dr. Johannes Homa, commented, “Glassomer’s choice of Lithoz’s LCM process as their key technology to achieve this innovation once again proves the sheer potential and flexibility of our system. The new LithaGlass material brings our company one step closer to our vision — finding solutions to every challenge of today with a 3D printed ceramic answer.”

Dr. Frederick Kotz-Helmer, chief sales officer (CSO) of Glassomer, said, “Our transparent high-purity glass solutions offer enormous potential for many applications, especially for high-stability optical and technical parts. With Lithoz we have a powerful partner to make our glasses available for high-precision 3D printing — which will significantly advance science and technology.”

AM for glass got a well-publicized boost at the very end of 2022, when Meta announced its acquisition of Belgian-Dutch AM optics firm, Luxexcel. Since that acquisition seems to have been primarily driven by Meta’s laying down the groundwork for its long-term transition to VR, the release of LithaGlass could obviously be a significant boost for any competing company that is entering the VR hardware space.

Beyond that, printing with FSG should garner significant interest from the semiconductor industry for a variety of reasons. FSG is among the most critical inputs in the production of photomasks — the transparent plates used for projecting patterns onto integrated circuits (ICs). FSG is also used for semiconductor packaging, for components in certain kinds of ICs, themselves, and for fiber optics. Thus, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, the scale-up of FSG printing could be nothing short of revolutionary for 3D printing in the electronics sector.

Lithoz had a standout year in 2022, and the launch of LithaGlass suggests that wasn’t a fluke. Ceramics is one of those subdivisions within the 3D printing sector at-large that hints at a future breakout due to its being particularly well-suited to optimize the inherent advantages of 3D printing technologies. (To name another example that I bring up frequently, along these same lines — maritime AM.) Its versatility simply gives ceramics a built-in edge over other 3D printing market segments, insofar as versatility is one of the benefits that drives business to adopt 3D printing, in the first place. FSG brings that versatility to even greater heights, and LithaGlass epitomizes why Lithoz is such an intriguing company.

Images courtesy of Lithoz

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