Manufacturing Minute: 3D Printed Glass

Also in this episode, Google's Project Ara and carbon capture chatter.

Why Google’s Project Ara is being pushed back again, 3D printed glass and a machine that can literally suck carbon dioxide out of the air.

Can You Hear Me Now?

If the rumors are to be believed, Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone is being pushed back to next year for failing a drop test. The Google team says that the test was actually a joke and that they’re really just working on a better way for the modules to attach to one another, while also giving it a better camera and longer battery life.

The Project Ara smartphone would allow consumers to pick and choose the hardware options for their smartphone and upgrade components as they see fit. This means that consumers won’t need to get an entirely new phone, but can instead just buy new or upgraded parts that easily slide into place — potentially disrupting the cell phone landscape.

A Real Glass Act

3D printing has all kinds of practical applications for manufacturing, but until recently they generally involved plastic or metal.

Now, they could also include glass.

Researchers from MIT recently unveiled a device that, for the first time, prints optically transparent glass.The printer includes two chambers: the first works like a kiln, heating the ingredients to some 1900 degrees Fahrenheit, while the second softens and shapes the substance.

The researchers say the device could create numerous novel glass structures and pave the way for improved fiber optics.

Suck It Up

A British Columbia start-up is developing a machine designed to suck carbon dioxide out of the air. The carbon dioxide can then be processed to form reusable fuels such as gasoline or jet fuel.

Easy, right? Well, carbon capture isn’t exactly a new idea, nor is it really a popular one in the scientific community — most sustainability researchers aren’t thrilled by a technology that just lets people continue polluting the way they are now.

But, the real hindrance to carbon capture is cost — consider the electricity needed to constantly power the machines. And, if that energy isn’t created by solar panels or another form of free energy, then isn’t that just going in circles?

So, What Do You Think?

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is continuing to rise — that’s irrefutable. But is investing in carbon capture an effective or even sustainable method to pursue?

This technology isn’t new, but proponents of carbon removal devices claim they are essential. Could this really be a viable solution?

Email us or leave your comments below.

That’s all the time we have for today, but check our sites every Tuesday and Thursday for your next Manufacturing Minute. 

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