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New 3D Printing Technology Speeds Up the Plot

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Three-dimensional printing is one of those technologies that hit the scene positively spilling over with promise, but was subsequently revealed to be suffering shortfalls serious enough to overshadow its spectacle.

As amazing as its potential was to create things where there was nothing before, a 3D printer was a dinosaur when regarded for its speed alone. For a world accustomed to instant gratification—technological and otherwise—the wait for the end product was near intolerable.

Until now.

A unique new 3D printer that dramatically speeds up the process was unveiled at a TED conference in Vancouver last month. The Carbon3D Digital Light Processor (DLP) printer actually creates polymer parts in a fraction of the time its predecessors—themselves relatively recent technological marvels—took to do the same job.

This advancement in polymer-based additive manufacturing—saddled with the unwieldy handle Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP)—approaches 3D printing from the opposite direction of conventional DLP printing. Instead of building up plastic with layer after layer of material, the CLIP technology “grows” parts from a pool of resin.

And it grows them fast! According to third-party tests that the company presented in conjunction with its product intro, the CLIP can produce a plastic model that takes a traditional SLA printer 11.5 hours to put together in a mere six-and-a-half minutes.

Its creators say it can do this because it eliminates a number of those mechanical steps that drag down the usual DLP printing process (think layering and curing of resin slices with mechanical resetting stages in between). Better still, the final results of this enhanced and continuous effort are smoother than the stratum-by-stratum-fabricated alternative it seeks to replace.

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