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New 3D Printing Inspired by the Terminator

Most current 3D printing techniques create three-dimensional objects via sequentially depositing materials (e.g., polymer) from an inkjet printer head in a layer-by-layer fashion under computer control. This process is usually time-consuming and might take hours to days to build an object. Additionally, the created objects are often mechanically inconsistent and weak due to their layered nature.

A recent Science paper reported a new 3D printing technique, which continuously grows 3D objects from a pool of UV-curable resin using a technique called continuous liquid interface production (CLIP). CLIP is a technique based on the equilibrium between the photo-polymerization of the resin and the oxygen-induced inhibition of the polymerization. A continuous sequence of UV light beam is projected from a transparent window below the resin pool, which leads to the curing of the resin and thus the growth of the object in the resin-air interface. On the other hand, this window is permeable to oxygen, where photo-polymerization is inhibited and thus prevents the resin from solidifying in the resin-window interface. CLIP is 25 to 100 times faster than the commercially available 3D printing techniques, and the resulting 3D objects exhibit mooth surfaces compared to those created by the traditional layer-by-layer deposition. At TED 2015, Joe DeSimone, one of inventors of CLIP mentioned that this technique was inspired by the liquid metal robot T-1000 in the famous movie, Terminator 2: Judgment Day.



Tumbleston, J. R., et al. Science, 2015, 347 (6228), 1349-1352.