3D printing isn't short of advocates in the design and engineering world, because of its ability to easily produce prototypes — but it can be slow. A new company called Carbon3D hopes to change that, though, with a new 3D printing method that claims to be 25-100 times faster than other resin printing techniques.
The startup has just emerged from stealth, 3Dprint reports, announcing its new technique called Continuous Liquid Interface Production. CLIP seems to build on an existing 3D printing technique which uses photosensitive resin and a laser to cure it into a solid. But unlike similar techniques, which perform that process layer-by-layer, CLIP uses laser light to cure along with oxygen to inhibit the process — allowing it to actually print in three dimensions at once.
The printer uses a transparent and oxygen-permeable window, which allows it to control the amount of oxygen and laser light incident on the liquid resin. Its makers claim that the printer offers such fine control over oxygen exposure that it it can be used to create spots that won't be cured as small as tens of microns thick. Meanwhile, the laser can zip across the surface, curing spots that aren't exposed to oxygen. You can see it in action below.
Exact details of how they achieve all this remain under wraps — at least to most of us. But Carbon3D has told at least some people about how the technology works, because its managed to secure a cool $US41 million in funding to date from venture capital firms.
Printing at such swift rates is clearly incredibly desirable. If CLIP can be turned into a commercial product it could take 3D printing from prototyping niche to something that's genuinely useful in everyday manufacturing. And that's exactly what 3D printing is waiting for. [3Dprint]