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Carbon3D, a manufacturer of 3D printers headquartered in Redwood City, California, has introduced Continuous Liquid Interface Production Technology (CLIP) at the TED2015 Conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

CLIP technology harnesses light and oxygen to continuously grow objects from a pool of resin instead of printing them layer-by-layer.

The new technology enhances 3D printing three ways:

• Speed. It is 25-100 times faster than conventional 3D printing.
• Quality. It produces objects with consistent mechanical properties.
• Material Choice. Users can select from a broad range of polymeric materials.

How CLIP Works

According to Carbon3D, current 3D printing technology is really just 2D printing done over and over again. As a result, 3D printed parts take many hours, even days, to produce an item, which is mechanically weak because they feature shale-like layers.

CLIP technology uses a tunable photochemical process instead of the traditional mechanical approach. It balances the interaction of UV light (which triggers photo polymerization) and oxygen (which inhibits reaction) and continuously grows objects from a pool of resin.

A special window, which is transparent to light and permeable to oxygen, is a major feature of the technology. This permits CLIP to control of the oxygen flux that creates a “dead zone” in the resin pool which is just tens of microns (about 2-3 diameters of a red blood cell) thick, so photopolymerization cannot occur. A cross-sectional image of a 3D model is played into and underneath the resin pool and the physical object emerges continuously from just above the dead zone. Conventionally made 3D printed parts have mechanical properties that vary depending on the direction the parts are printed because of the layer-by-layer approach. CLIP is more like injection molding and produces consistent and predictable mechanical properties that are smooth on the outside and solid on the inside.

The revolutionary CLIP technology 3D printer can be used for all sorts of manufacturing applications including the construction of parts for launch vehicles, spacecraft and other items used in the exploration of space.

Sequoia Capital, Northgate Partners, Piedmont Capital Partners, Wakefield Group, and Silver Lake has invested a total of $40 million to commercialize the technology.


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