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March 23, 2015

Liquid 3-D printing process inspired by 'Terminator 2'

New method aims to make smoother surfaces, print objects more quickly

Technology 3-D Printing
032215_clip3d User @FBstrategies/Twitter

Continuous liquid interface production (CLIP) could produce extremely fine parts, including tissue-compatible biological materials.

At its current phase of development, 3-D printing technology has already reached a level of advancement that can powerfully improve lives, perhaps most notably in medicine with custom prosthetics

Still, the additive printing process remains prolonged, especially for complex projects that render large-scale manufacturing both too costly and too time-consuming for many businesses to justify the investment. 

Inspired by the liquid metal T-1000 featured in 'Terminator 2,' researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill are working on an entirely new 3-D printing method that could promise rapid prototyping 25 to 100 times faster than existing processes, Business Insider reports. 

Continuous liquid interface production (CLIP) aims to solve two problems with current systems by cutting down on the time to print objects and enabling smoother surfaces. 

In the CLIP system, a projector displays successive, imperceptibly thin cross-sections of the object from below in ultraviolet light. 
This light hardens a layer of liquid just above the bottom of a pool of liquid resin. Meanwhile, a platform continuously lifts the forming object out of the resin. 
The cross sections of the object are as thin as a few red blood cells, allowing ultraviolet light to pass through in a design that optimizes oxygen exposure for a smoother, quicker process.  

The creators of CLIP are honing their patent-pending process through a startup called Carbon3D, Inc, which hopes to develop a commercial CLIP printer by the end of the year. The following video demonstrates the process with the creation of a miniature Eiffel Tower. 

Read the entire Business Insider article here