Scientists at the University of North Carolina have developed a new approach to 3D printing which works up to 100 times faster than current 3D printers.
Speaking at a recent TED talk conference, Joseph DeSimone, one of the scientists working on the project, described how the idea was inspired by a scene from Terminator 2 in which a killer robot emerges from a pool of liquid, saying “why couldn’t a 3D printer operate in this fashion, where you have an object arise out of a puddle in essentially real time with essentially no waste to make a great object?”
This new technology, Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP), uses a combination of light projections, which solidify the resin, and oxygen, which inhibits solidification, to create the desired shape. Directed light beams cause objects to form just above an oxygen-rich layer in the liquid and can simply be pulled out. In a live demonstration, the technology produced a complex geometric ball in less than 10 minutes. A conventional 3D printer would have taken around 10 hours to create the same shape.
This is not only much faster than the current layer-by-layer approach to 3D printing but also produces significantly stronger objects as CLIP avoids the structural weaknesses inherent in the layering process. These improvements may allow 3D printing to begin to compete with traditional manufacturing as well as providing scope for new applications such as the ability to quickly print personalised medical parts on demand.