It so very rarely happens that some company innovates on a new application and brings forth a new paradigm shift. Carbon3D is one such company riding on innovation with their proprietary Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) technology. CLIP is an advancement in the field of Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing). Traditional additive manufacturing techniques are accused of compromising with surface finish and mechanical strength and it can also be said that they are pretty time consuming. CLIP was developed as a solution to these perceived drawbacks. Let us dive further into how this process actually works.
Carbon3D promises to produce parts with excellent mechanical properties, resolution and surface finish. At the core of the process is the interplay of light and oxygen. They call it Digital Light Synthesis. When we talk about the chemistry of photopolymer resins, light and oxygen perform contrary roles. Light triggers the solidification of the resin and oxygen inhibits that process. But by controlling light and oxygen selectively, a liquid resin can be formed into any desired shape. And in order to harness the ability of light and oxygen they came up with a special setup.
The setup comprises of a reservoir of UV curable resin beneath which is a special window that is not only transparent to light but permeable to oxygen, which is vital to the CLIP process because it allows continuous printing of the part without having to peel away the cured layer every time a new layer has to be deposited, as seen in case of traditional Stereolithography(SLA) processes.
A light engine placed below the reservoir projects a digital image of the cross-section of the object. This starts the process of solidification of the resin. At the same time oxygen is supplied through the window which creates a thin layer of uncured resin between the window and the solid part. This is called the dead zone and is the most crucial aspect of the whole process. Because it is what allows the maintenance of the continuous liquid interface.
This has made 3D printing using photopolymer resins faster than other methods of additive manufacturing. The creators of the project claim that it is has the potential to be 100 times faster than traditional methods of 3D printing.
The parts created using the CLIP technology are said to be more like injection molded parts. Which basically means that the layer marks that one would normally find on 3D printed parts are absent in this case. It allows the mechanical properties of the parts to be uniform throughout i.e. CLIP parts are isotropic in nature unlike FDM parts which display anisotropy.
Clip is a revolutionary technology in the field of 3D Printing that is sure to set the ball rolling. With diverse applications like the Adidas Futurecraft 4D and innovative materials being developed on the back of this technology, it’s not an issue of whether, but when Carbon starts establishing a stronghold in this developing market of 3D Printing products and applications.