Some of the best things come from an initially liquid form. The Greek Goddess Aphrodite was said to have been born from the foam of the sea, as were horses, and now we have continuous liquid interface production (CLIP) as a means to rapidly create three dimensional objects from liquid polymers.
This Terminator 2 inspired technology is the product of Joseph DeSimone and his team of chemists with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The system that they have created works by projecting ultraviolet rays over a photo-reactive pool of liquid resin. This technology has been around since 1986, so it’s nothing new, but the CLIP process is unique in that it turns the technology upside down – fairly literally. CLIP involves printing on a downward facing build tray. The ultraviolet projections come from beneath a bath of resin and through an oxygenated layer, which prevents the solidifying material from sticking to any sides of the bath vat, sort of like Pam. The desired structure can then be built layer by layer as the build tray is raised out of the pool. This gives the visual display of a solid object rising from a liquid, much like the T-1000 in the second Terminator movie going into and out of his liquid metal form. While this method of rapid prototyping is an incredibly interesting spectacle, do not mistake it for just a show. The new take on 3D printing technology is actually about ten times faster in some cases than a traditional printing, reducing hour long jobs to mere minutes. It really shouldn’t be surprising how many “out there” ideas end up being catalysts to great innovation. Inspired work can change a field, even if it is inspired by a killer robot.
Castelvecchi, Davide. “Chemical Trick Speeds up 3D Printing.” Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
McSpadden, Kevin. “Futuristic 3-D Printing Technology Grows Objects From Liquid.” Time. Time, 18 Mar. 2015. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
Stromberg, Joseph. “Watch: This New Type of 3D Printing Was Inspired by Terminator 2.” Vox. N.p., 16 Mar. 2015. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.