Sunday, March 22, 2015

Carbon3D's CLIP - truly a breakthrough in 3D printing!

This is truly remarkable. I first heard the news last week from 3DPi (read their comprehensive article here).  Inspired by the T-1000 from Terminator 2, Dr. Joseph DeSimone and his team have come up with a truly revolutionary idea in 3D printing.  Check out this video (at 7x speed). It's so fast, they printed an object (which would take up to 11 hours using traditional 3D printing methods!) DURING the 10 minute TED talk!

They call it CLIP - Continuous Liquid Interface Production.  And it grows  parts instead of printing them layer by layer!  (more on this later) Take a look at the micrograph (right) - the image on the right is a traditionally 3D printed part with layers, on the left - CLIP!  Plus, CLIP is 25-100 times faster than traditional 3D printing.

Dr. DeSimone, CEO and Co-Founder of Carbon3D, says, “Current 3D printing technology has failed to deliver on its promise to revolutionize manufacturing.  Our CLIP technology offers the game-changing speed, consistent mechanical properties and choice of materials required for complex commercial quality parts.”

So, how does Clip work?

For now, I'm quoting right off their website, and will add as we learn more.

CLIP is a chemical process that carefully balances light and oxygen to eliminate the mechanical steps and the layers. 
It works by projecting light through an oxygen-permeable window into a reservoir of UV curable resin. The build platform lifts continuously as the object is grown.
The heart of the CLIP process is a special window that is transparent to light and permeable to oxygen, much like a contact lens. 
By controlling the oxygen flux through the window, CLIP creates a “dead zone” — a thin layer of uncured resin between the window and the object.** 
This makes it possible to grow without stopping. As a continuous sequence of UV images are projected, the object is drawn from the resin bath. Sophisticated software manages the entire process by controlling the variables. 

** We are very interested in learning more about this "dead zone" - it is tens of microns thick and an area where it is impossible for photopolymerization to occur.

Want to learn more?  Check out the Carbon3D website, another article, or (highly recommended) watch the recently-released TED talk below!


UPDATE 3.26.15: has a story about Gizmo 3D, a company that says they too "are working on a super fast SLA style 3D printer, which may actually one-up the Carbon3D system, as far as speed and print quality go."  Read more here!

Just for fun, here is the Terminator 2 video clip shared in the TED talk. (in Spanish...?)


  1. Absolutely astounding to watch. And of course I love the source of inspiration, but here's hoping they won't be making a Terminator itself any time soon!

  2. Does photopolymerization require light to occur? I'm interested in purchasing a 3D printer, but they're pretty expensive. I'm making sure that I know everything about them before I buy it. 3D printer.

  3. Wow, what a crazy advancement! That was quite the video.

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  5. I think there are two factors that will contribute to higher adoption rates of 3d printers, improved speed and reduced cost. This is a major improvement in one of those departments. Now if they can sell these for under $500, they are really on to something.

  6. Ok, so this printer is now available for $40k per year. Far from affordable.