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Materials World magazine
3 Apr 2015

Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) technology

What is it?

A 3D printing machine that harnesses light and oxygen to continuously grow objects from a pool of resin at speeds 25–100 times faster than traditional printers. 

Who is involved? 

Carbon3D, a 3D-printing company based in California, founded by researchers at the North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  

How does it work?

The process uses a transparent window that is permeable to oxygen and resembles a contact lens. By controlling the oxygen flux through the window, the technology creates a ‘dead zone’ in the resin pool of 16–24 micrometres thickness, where photopolymerisation occurs. A cross-sectional image of a 3D model is then played from under the resin pool and the physical object emerges from above the ‘dead zone’.  

What inspired the work?

The researchers wanted to develop a technology that was faster than conventional 3D printing methods and produces stronger parts at lower cost. They created CLIP to make the process of 3D printing continuous and remove interfaces between layers. 

What could the technology replace?

Existing 3D technology uses a mechanical approach, printing layer by layer. CLIP technology works like an injection mould to produce consistent and predictable properties in a photochemical process, which could lead to mass manufacturing. The researchers plan to test different liquids during the process, to make parts from a blend of materials.

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