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Super-Fast 3-D Printer Inspired by Terminator 2 [VIDEO]

Mar 19, 2015 11:43 AM EDT

Scientists have developed a super-fast 3-D printer, curiously inspired by the Hollywood film Terminator 2. It can make ready-to-use products 25 to 100 times faster than conventional methods, a new study reveals.

Not to mention that it can create geometries that were previously unachievable, and opens the doors to improved technologies in health care and medicine, as well as other industries such as automotive and aviation.

If you've ever seen the equally exciting sequel to the first Terminator movie, you'll know that it showcases a T-1000 robot that can rise from a pool of metallic liquid. It was this multi-phase nature that first led researchers at Carbon3D Inc. to their new 3-D printing technique.

The technology, called CLIP - Continuous Liquid Interface Production - for the first time manipulates light and oxygen to fuse objects in liquid media continuously. For the past 25 years, the 3-D printing process had involved creating objects layer by layer, a time-consuming approach.

The way CLIP works is it projects beams of light through an oxygen-permeable window into a liquid resin. Working together, light and oxygen control the solidification of the resin, creating objects quickly and accurately, which can then be put to commercial use. The objects can have feature sizes below 20 microns, or less than one-quarter of the width of a piece of paper. (Scroll to read on...)

[Credit: Carbon3D Brand]

"By rethinking the whole approach to 3D printing, and the chemistry and physics behind the process, we have developed a new technology that can create parts radically faster than traditional technologies by essentially 'growing' them in a pool of liquid," Joseph M. DeSimone, a professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and CEO of Carbon3D, said in a statement.

What's more, CLIP can use a host of different materials, including elastomers, silicones, nylon-like materials, ceramics and biodegradable materials. And not only is it up to 100 times faster than your average 3-D printer, it can create stronger objects with unique, never-before-seen geometries.

The research team is currently pursuing advances to the technology, as well as new materials that are compatible with it. CLIP is described in more detail in the journal Science, and was presented March 16 at the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in Vancouver, BC.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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