3D Printing

Terminator-inspired tech could give traditional 3D printing a run for its money

Terminator-inspired tech could...
A finished object, created in less than seven minutes (Photo: Carbon3D)
A finished object, created in less than seven minutes (Photo: Carbon3D)
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A close comparison of CLIP vs. traditional 3D printing (Image: Carbon3D)
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A close comparison of CLIP vs. traditional 3D printing (Image: Carbon3D)
This object was created many times faster than 3D printing would require (Photo: Carbon3D)
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This object was created many times faster than 3D printing would require (Photo: Carbon3D)
A cured resin object slowly emerges thanks to exposure to air and light from below (Photo: Carbon3D)
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A cured resin object slowly emerges thanks to exposure to air and light from below (Photo: Carbon3D)
A look at how CLIP works (Image: Carbon3D)
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A look at how CLIP works (Image: Carbon3D)
A finished object, created in less than seven minutes (Photo: Carbon3D)
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A finished object, created in less than seven minutes (Photo: Carbon3D)
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A new approach to 3D printing promises to drastically speed up the 3D manufacturing process by "growing" objects out of a pool of resin rather than printing them layer by layer. Carbon3D announced its Continuous Liquid Interface Production technology (CLIP) on stage at the TED conference this week, claiming it can produce commercial-quality objects from a range of polymer-based material at speeds between 25 and 100 times faster than conventional 3D printing.

If you've had a filling or other similar types of dental work done in the past decade or so, your dentist may have filled in voids in your teeth with a resin that is then zapped with a special ultraviolet light gun to cure and quickly harden it. CLIP takes the same basic idea, but using technology that allows the photochemical process that hardens the resin to be more finely tuned. The resin responds to cross-sectional images of a 3D model that are essentially projected onto it. The process relies on the right balance of light, which triggers curing, and oxygen, which inhibits it, allowing for the projected object to literally grow out of the resin pool.

"We were inspired by the scene out of Terminator 2 (with) T-1000," said Carbon3D CEO Joseph DeSimone. "By spatially controlling where the oxygen is and where the light is, we're able to grow these parts directly."

Carbon 3D says this method eliminates the clear stratification of individually-printed layers laid upon each other that's usually obvious in traditional additive-based 3D printing, which can create objects that are inconsistent or weak structurally.

In the minute-long demonstration video below, you can see how an object gradually emerges from the pool of resin as it is exposed to just the right combination of light and oxygen in conjunction with the 3D model cross-sections from below. The sped-up video shows an object that took six minutes to create, as opposed to multiple hours needed to create a similar object with a traditional 3D printer.

A close comparison of CLIP vs. traditional 3D printing (Image: Carbon3D)
A close comparison of CLIP vs. traditional 3D printing (Image: Carbon3D)

Another benefit of the approach, according to Carbon 3D, is CLIP's ability to draw on materials from across the polymer family, including elastomers that are flexible enough to work in shoes and strong enough for use in automotive parts.

DeSimone says Carbon3D will be bringing a product to market using this technology later this year, but has no information on pricing just yet. He says the company has been testing the technology with partners in the automotive and athletic apparel industries, as well as academic research and design labs.

Sources: Carbon3D, Re/code

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9 comments
Bob
This sounds like the machine we had 15 years ago to make prototype parts. The resin was cured with a laser as the object was drawn from the resin.
The Skud
Sounds like a clever adaption of one system of making off-set printing plates for newspapers. They start with a coated steel plate and zap the coating through a film negative to give (once the excess is washed away) a raised surface with solid type for printing.
Richard Wright
I don't see anything new here, this has been done for years with two laser beams which intersect to solidify the plastic. Now, if they were using actual metal, as supposedly "inspired" the idea that would be something.
VirtualGathis
@Richard Wright - you don't see anything new because you aren't paying attention. This device produces a very different output than those laser/resin bath printers.
I've watched the existing laser cured 3d printers like the b9. They have an impressive resolution, but when you look at them under magnification the printed object still has ridges. This process leaves no ridges at all as the article shows in picture from the electron microscope. That is a huge deal when it comes to using that printed part for anything. If you look at the companies site they use the example of dental crowns, and dentures. "You wouldn't want ridges on your teeth." Is the quote. Then there is the issue of using 3d printed parts on mechanically demanding applications. The layered laser/resin bath parts will demonstrate radically different mechanical strength from one part to the next. That essentially limits the use of it's output to modelling and crating casts for pouring or injecting more solid substances into. Clip has the same mechanical properties every time it prints so the output can be relied upon in real world use applications.
So in short; yes it is revolutionary.
Craig Whitley
VirtualGathis: You would be incorrect as the at least 15-20 year old technology was capable of creating images with .001' resolution otherwise the printing industry would have never accepted it.
Halftone dots for 4 color printing needed to be exact in size and orientation or again the industry would never have accepted it as a viable alternative. Poorly formed dots would equal a bad printed image.
Dan Parker
Life imitates art. Cool.
Tom Jones
"The resin responds to cross-sectional images of a 3D model that are essentially projected onto it."
How is this different from something like the the Form 1+? It's just smaller layers?
DonGateley
@Tom Jones: The Form 1+ scans the surface with a laser pair hardening the resin at their intersection. This tech scans time varying cross sections onto an electronic display and projects the full image of it onto the surface being formed where the resin is hardened at all points on the surface simultaneously. I am not sure the degree to which the latter is advantageous, however. It would seem at first glance to be faster.
I'd like to see a micrograph like the one in this article comparing the CLIP surface to that from a Form 1+.
R&D Prototype
Envision tech uses a very, very similiar technology for their machines. The ultra sp3 produces virtually layerless parts. The big problem with these machines are the small platform size. Perhaps Carbon 3D will address that issue and enable the user to purchase a large frame machine without having to spend $400K plus all the hidden costs such as machine maintenance contracts and software contracts. Love the speed but if you have to be there constantly pulling parts and adding resin I still prefer the unmanned hours I get from my SLA machine. We produce 1 piece parts that are perfectly clear no layers - even small necked bottles like 64 oz soft drink bottles. There have been many proprietary processes developed over the years just check out this website - www.rdprototype.com