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Game-Changing 3D Printing Technology Unveiled

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted March 18, 2015

Faster = Better

A breakthrough in 3D printing was revealed on Monday at the TED2015 Conference. The company behind it is called Carbon3D and, based on the initial buzz, this new tech could move 3D printing out of the basement and onto factory floors everywhere.

The innovation is called Continuous Liquid Interphase Printing (CLIP) and it works by “growing” objects out of a liquid resin puddle.

The main draw to the new tech is that Carbon3D’s printer can create objects 25-100x faster than the next best available printer, resulting in a miniature model of the Eiffel Tower, printed from start to finish, in about 6 minutes.

Traditional 3D printing, which has existed at or near its current state since 1981, is “actually just 2D printing over and over again,” said Carbon3D CEO and co-founder Joseph DeSimone.

CLIP uses oxygen and light to grow components continuously rather than printing them layer by layer

The new process’s speed comes from the “dead zone” which refers to an area that is only a few red blood cells thick on the growing surface.

Within that space, individual slices of the projected object are printed and interact with both oxygen and the resin in liquid form until both ingredients combine to form the solid product.

Practical Applications

Potential uses for Carbon3D’s CLIP are in the medical and automotive industries as well as for props used in movies and elastic materials present in shoes.

Carbon3D, Inc. isn’t public, but private investors like Sequoia Capital, Silver Lake Kraftwerk, and Northgate Capital have already raised $41 million to commercialize the technology in a 2014 round of financing.

Despite many of the products of 3D printing being too weak to be used in most working machines, 3D printing products are used in the air, on roads, and inside our bodies as either temporary substitutes or replacements altogether.

Until now, another caveat of 3D printing has been its prohibitively long time requirement, which has limited it to the manufacturing and do-it-yourself fringes.

However, CLIP technology is capable of printing at hundreds to thousands of millimeters an hour, and if the technology succeeds there may be few areas of manufacturing untouched by it in the years ahead.