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Gizmorama - April 26, 2017

Good Morning,

Are you ready for 3D-printing with glass? Yes, 3D-printing works with glass. I think these 3D-printers are the technology of the future. They're quite amazing.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*New digital map details shifting demographics in United States*

University of Cincinnati geographer Tomasz Stepinski has combined NASA maps and U.S. Census data to create a zoomable, interactive illustration of America's changing racial diversity.

Stepinski used 20 years of U.S. Census data to plot demographic changes neighborhood by neighborhood.

The end product, published this week in the journal PLOS ONE, is one of the most detailed racial-diversity maps created.

"People don't realize that the United States is a diverse country but at the same time is still very segregated," Stepinski said in a news release.

The mapping process was cumbersome and took several years to complete, but Stepinksi and his postdoctoral researcher, Anna Dmowska, believe the work will make important data more accessible to both laypersons and other scientists.

"The maps can tell us much more about racial composition and can be used by everyone," Dmowska said. "They don't require expert knowledge to understand the results, so I think maps can be used by a broader community."

By plotting the census data onto a more precise grid system derived from NASA satellite maps, the researchers were able to improve upon the precision of previous demographic visualization attempts.

The new maps could be overlaid with maps of grocery stores, bus routes or medical facilities to identify food deserts and neighborhoods under-served by government services.

The maps can help tell stories of transforming cities, said Jeffrey Timberlake, an associate professor of sociology at Cincinnati. Timberlake's research focuses on urban inequality and residential segregation.

"If you put the population geography together with an understanding of the social meaning of that road," Timberlake said, "you can tell a pretty powerful story about what segregation means."

*-- Researchers 3D-print glass using new method --*

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, in Germany, have developed a method for 3D-printing with glass.

The 3D printer is supplied with a novel mixture of high-purity quartz glass nanoparticles and a small amount of liquid polymer, which works as a binding agent. Scientists use stereolithography to cure the printed product with light, before washing out any remaining liquid in a solution bath. Any polymer that remains trapped in the glass is melted away during a final heating stage.

"The shape initially resembles that of a pound cake; it is still unstable, and therefore the glass is sintered in a final step, i.e. heated so that the glass particles are fused," Bastian E. Rapp, a mechanical engineer at KIT, said in a news release.

Previous attempts to 3D-print with melted glass yielded porous structures with a rough surface. The new method avoids such problems. Scientists were able to construct a variety of complex structures using the new 3D-printing technique.

Measurements of the final product suggests the glass features intricate microstructures. Researchers observed glass structures measuring just a few micrometers.

"[The] technology could be used, for instance, to make small, complex structures out of a large number of very small optical components of different orientations," Rapp explained.

Researchers believe the method could be used to produce special lenses for a variety of optical applications.

Rapp and his colleagues detailed their success in the journal Nature.


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