Recently, we covered some exciting research being pursued by the University of Southampton relating to the use of 3D printing for the creation of uniquely shaped fiber optics. Though their technique will likely involve the selective laser sintering of pure glass powder, it has been brought to my attention by one 3DPI reader that Southampton’s project is not the first to unite 3D printing and fiber optics. In fact, a team of researchers at the University of Sydney may have been the first to create fiber optics with 3D printing.
From the video below, you’ll see that the process for creating optic fibers is a tedious, expensive, and time-intensive one. To create a single fiber, a long glass tube is heated to the point that silica and germanium particles are formed within, eventually forming a preform.