3D printer concept by Carbon3D grows objects from resin bath

Drew Prindle, for Digital Trends:

The company has developed a radical new technique called Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) that is anywhere from 25 to 100 times faster than most 3D printers. Instead of depositing plastic layer by layer onto a substrate, CLIP uses a light projection system to “grow” objects out of a pool of UV-curable resin.

The key to the whole process is carefully balancing the interaction of light and oxygen. UV light triggers photo polymerization (hardening) in the resin, while oxygen inhibits it. CLIP is essentially a chemical process that leverages this interaction in order to eliminate the mechanical steps and layering of traditional printers. It works by projecting light through an oxygen-permeable window into a reservoir of UV curable resin. As a continuous sequence of UV images are projected through the bottom of the reservoir, the object hardens in certain spots, and the object is slowly drawn from the resin bath.

It’s an oddly satisfying process to watch, as an object of some depth is drawn from a relatively shallow pool. At the moment, the process is fairly slow — the video is sped up 7x — but this is a glimpse into the future. It’s easier than ever to imagine replicators and matter compilers that science fiction has been promising us.