A new world of opportunity

The NSG Group and University of Cambridge are collaborating on “ground-breaking” new glass applications, while using the latest technology to realise the future of manufacturing.

The group, which owns Pilkington UK, is currently working with the University’s Fluids in Advanced Manufacturing team (FIAM) to establish a way of printing conductive materials onto wide areas of curved glass surfaces.

Currently, conductive materials can only be effectively printed onto flat glass surfaces. If successful, this will enable the printing of metallic nano inks at high precision across curved glass, introducing new applications for glass in automotive and architectural sectors, including: helping to detect pollution; incorporating heating elements; or as digital signage.

Dr Su Varma, R&D incubator academic programme director at the NSG Group European Technical Centre, said: “It allows high-tech applications of glass to not be limited to flat surfaces, expanding opportunities for architects.”

He continued: “The project is our latest initiative working by the side of the University of Cambridge, a relationship that extends past the inauguration of the institution’s Pilkington prize in 1994, which recognises outstanding contributions made by academics and researchers to the University.”

Dr Ronan Daly, head of FIAM and senior lecturer at the University of Cambridge, said: “Smart technology applied to glass has the potential to perform a number of important tasks, from identifying the presence of bacteria on a hospital window to performing as a touchscreen display, for example.

“Conductive materials can already be printed onto flat surfaces, and alongside the NSG Group we’re now overcoming the physical challenge of completing this for curved applications – this opens up new opportunities for designers to use glass technology to solve their modern design challenges.”