the objects we use are often made of plastic as it’s faster and more cost-effective to produce. but now, a team of researchers at the university of freiburg in germany has revolutionized glass production, meaning it could be mass-produced at the same price as plastic. led by professor dr. bastian e. rapp, and developed in collaboration with glassomer, the team has utilized injection molding to cast high-quality glass structures at a lower temperature, saving time, money and energy.



‘for decades, glass has often been the second choice when it comes to materials in manufacturing processes because its formation is too complicated, energy-intensive and unsuitable for producing high-resolution structures,’  said rapp in a statement via the university of freiburg. ‘polymers, on the other hand, have allowed all of this, but their physical, optical, chemical and thermal properties are inferior to glass. as a result, we have combined polymer and glass processing. our process will allow us to quickly and cost-effectively replace both mass-produced products and complex polymer structures and components with glass.’

injection molding glass designboom

injection-molded structures made from the newly developed glassomer composite

image by neptun lab/university of freiburg



the technique begins with small polymer granules that are poured into the machine, melted, and injected into a mold. the resulting components are then converted into pure quartz glass in a heat treatment process. rapp and his team intend to apply the revolutionary technique to a number of commercial opportunities: from glasses to solar cells.



‘we see great potential especially for small high-tech glass components with complicated geometries. in addition to transparency, the very low coefficient of expansion of quartz glass also makes the technology interesting. sensors and optics work reliably at any temperature if the key components are made of glass,’  said dr. frederik kotz, group leader at the laboratory of process technology and chief scientific officer (CSO) at glassomer.we have also been able to show that micro-optical glass coatings can increase the efficiency of solar cells. this technology can now be used to produce cost-effective high-tech coatings with high thermal stability. there are a number of commercial opportunities for it.’ 


the research was published in science