Innovative 3D-Printing Technology

Computed Axial Lithography

Say hello to a revolutionary new method of 3D printing glass. Yes, you read that right. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley collaborated with experts at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg in Germany to develop CAL, a 3D printing technology. This was created three years ago and is currently being developed into what they call micro-CAL. We can print considerably finer details in glass using micro-CAL technology.

Creating Micro objects with glass through micro-CAL vs current 3D technology

Industries have always preferred glass over any other material in creating delicate yet complex elements in various devices. These include microfluid devices, high-quality cameras in endoscopes and smartphones, etc. Industry demands are ever-growing, and the current method of creating such fine elements with glass remains difficult, slow, and expensive. The current 3D printing process builds upon fine layers, which is time-consuming. CAL, on the other hand, prints the entire object simultaneously.

The researchers utilize a laser to beam light patterns into a spinning volume of light-sensitive material, creating a 3D light dose that solidifies into the desired shape. The CAL process's layer-free nature allows for smooth surfaces and complicated geometry. This research pushes the limits of CAL to show that it can print microscale details in glass structures. 

“When we first published this method in 2019, CAL could print objects into polymers with features down to about a third of a millimeter in size,” said Hayden Taylor, principal investigator, and professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley. 

He added, “Now, with micro-CAL, we can print objects in polymers with features down to about 20 millionths of a meter, or about a quarter of a human hair’s breadth." 

A comprehensive solution with better precision and quality

Manufacturers of micro glass objects now have a new and more efficient approach to satisfy clients' stringent criteria for geometry, size, and optical and mechanical qualities. Thanks to the CAL 3D-printing process.