It’s no secret that although 3D printing has emerged to become a mainstream technology, the speed of being able to convert a digital file into a physical object leaves much to be desired regardless of the additive manufacturing technology being used.
In what sounds like something that’s too good to be true, Redwood City, California – based Carbon3D has debuted a new technology this week at the TED2015 conference in Vancouver that can speed up existing 3D printing times by 25 to 100 faster using a new technology that they are calling Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP).
The technology – which some might compare to existing SLA 3D printers – works by carefully balancing UV light and oxygen to grow objects from a pool of resin through a photo polymerization process.
“Current 3-D printing technology has failed to deliver on its promise to revolutionize manufacturing,” said Carbon3D co-founder and CEO Joseph DeSimone in a statement. “Our CLIP technology offers the game-changing speed, consistent mechanical properties and choice of materials required for complex commercial quality parts.”
Already, the technology has been compared to the infamous scene in 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day when the villain T-1000 recreates himself after being reduced to a puddle of liquid metal by the Terminator during an action sequence – which is fitting because this is the very scene that initially inspired DeSimone and the rest of the Carbon3D team to develop the technology.
During his TED talk, DeSimone demonstrated the printer by presenting a complex spherical device that is unable to be produced using traditional manufacturing methods including milling and injection molding – and would take hours to print on any existing 3D printer on the market.
By the time he had finished the first few minutes of his talk, the 3D print was fully-completed … and DeSimone believes that the technology will soon be able to print even faster (up to 1000x) if they are able to develop a liquid cooling solution to counter the heat generation.
Currently, the machine is being tested in a variety of companies that utilize 3D printing in their process including an automotive company, a design studio, an academic research lab and an athletic apparel company – however no specific names were given. DeSimone sees the technology being the most effective in the medical industry for being able to print in emergency rooms and dental offices that currently have to wait hours for objects to be printed.
Once they are able to refine the 3D printer, their next step is to start shipping it – however no cost or other machine specifications have been given at this time.
“Traditional 3D printing requires a number of mechanical steps, repeated over and over again in a layer-by-layer approach … the heart of the CLIP process is a special window that is transparent to light and permeable to oxygen, much like a contact lens. By controlling the oxygen flux through the window, CLIP creates a “dead zone” — a thin layer of uncured resin between the window and the object. This makes it possible to grow without stopping. As a continuous sequence of UV images are projected, the object is drawn from the resin bath. Sophisticated software manages the entire process by controlling the variables.”
To find out more, head over to Carbon3D.