3D Throwdown: Get Hip To CLIP

It's now apparent that 3D-printing technology is going to play a major role in the future, from medical devices to housing to parts for the International Space Station.  Now, a streamlined system for materializing 3D objects has been unveiled, and it's amazing what's drawn up from the depths...

Those crazy elements are at it again...
(Image courtesy tctmagazine.com.)





According to the Washington Post, a brand new style of 3D-printing has gone public thanks to the Carbon3D company.  Inspired by a scene from "Terminator 2" where the T-1000 rises, fully formed, from a pool of liquid metal, the Carbon3D technology has made this idea a viable means of rapid, accurate 3D printing.

Claiming their product could be used industrially as soon as within the next year, the Carbon3D tech is indeed impressive.  Unlike current 3D printers, which stack layer upon layer to create their objects, Carbon3D uses what they call "Continuous Liquid Interface Production" technology, or CLIP.  The brainchild of two chemists and a physicist, this is a whole new take on engineering, and it delivers:  the CLIP method creates 3D-printed objects anywhere from 25 to 100 times faster than conventional 3D printers.

A landmark invention prints a landmark tower.
(Video courtesy Carbon3D.com.)


Joseph DeSimone, one of Carbon3D's co-founders and a professor of chemistry at University of North Carolina and North Carolina State, explained, "We think that popular 3D printing is actually misnamed — it's really just 2D printing over and over again." Thus, his company aimed to change that entire mindset. 

The smoothness of a CLIP-printed object vs. a conventional 3D printer.  Electron microscopes don't lie.
(Image courtesy sciencemag.com.)

CLIP's process is straightforward:  using a vat of resin and a digital light projection system, a contact-lens-like window between the resin and projector can filter both oxygen and light. By directing bursts of each in tandem (with light hardening the resin and oxygen doing the opposite), items are constructed from the resin in a literal 3D fashion - not just stacked layers that seem more independent of the full object.

But can CLIP 3D print another CLIP 3D printer?  Time and crazy experiments will tell.
(Image courtesy 3dprint.com.)

The end results offer smoother, more commercially desirable products, rather than the rougher prototypes that current 3D printers produce.  This is particularly useful for very small items that need to be smooth, such as smartphone sensors or microneedles.  For items that require special strength, ornately-organized lattice designs are no problem for the CLIP.

The diverse uses for this sort of technology will continue to be discovered.  Different materials, applications, and even new inventions will all be extracted from the resinous mix.  Thanks to a little bit of light and a breath of fresh air, a new printing paradigm has presented itself. 

Oh future, you're so fancy.
(Image courtesy sciencemag.com.)



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