Everyone surely remembers the killer robot, T-1000, played by Robert Patrick, that rises menacingly from a puddle of molten metal in “Terminator 2”. This scene has inspired the scientists headed by Joseph DeSimone, a professor of chemistry at University of North Carolina and a founder of the Carbon3D company, to invent a new technology of 3D printing. The technology allows to create a 3D object 100 times faster, than the existing methods, from a reservoir of liquid resin.
The technique is called continuous liquid interface production or Clip. The printer itself consists of a reservoir of liquid resin and a moving platform, which lifts 3D objects from the reservoir. The printer pulses with light and oxygen. The light solidifies the resin and the oxygen prevents it from solidifying. It works continually, unlike current printers that construct objects by building layer upon layer (so, technically, they make a 2D object again and again). During a demonstration, the Clip printer has produced a hollow geometric ball, and this task took only 7 minutes. It would have taken about 10 hours with a conventional 3D printer!
The continuity of the process also means that Clip produces much stronger objects than the slate-like structure of objects printed in layers, which will shatter under force in one direction. One of the experts—Jonathan Rowley (from London 3D printing company—Digits2Widgets) says: “If you add the speed of this technology to the extra strength it provides it means you could produce parts that start to compete with traditional manufacturing. It’s probably something of a big deal.”