Feb 3, 2016 | By Kira
We have reported on our share of superfast or high-speed 3D printers, purporting to utilize all types of novel 3D printing technologies, from Lubricant Sublayer Photocuring (LSPc), to C-CAT (Carima-Continuous Additive 3D Printing Technology), to FLD (Fast Layer Deposition), and of course the more common SLA and DLP 3D printing techniques. Some stand up to their claims of balancing high speeds with high quality, while others have generated more skeptics than believers.
The latest high-speed 3D printing technology comes from the 3D printing technology research and development center of the Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter (FJIRSM) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), led by Ling WenXiong. By building off on CLIP—a subset of DLP 3D printing brought to light by Carbon3D back in early 2015—the Chinese researchers have managed to reach 3D printing speeds of 600mm/h. To put that speed into perspective, FJIRSM claims to have ‘pulled’ a 3D object measuring 60mm high from the resin tank in as little as six minutes—a feat that would require roughly 10 hours using traditional SLA 3D printing techniques.
In conventional SLA (stereolithography) 3D printers, an ultraviolet laser is focused into a vat of photopolymer resin. Following pre-determined patterns across the surface of the vat, the UV laser hardens the resin layer by layer, building up a solid and highly accurate 3D object—thanks to major 3D printer manufacturers such as FormLabs, SLA 3D printing is becoming more and more common, however it is still considered quite complex and time-consuming. Similarly, DLP (Direct Light Deposition) 3D printing builds 3D objects in a vat of photopolymer resin, but using a light projector shining up through the transparent bottom of a resin container.
In March 2015, US company Carbon3D proposed Continuous Growth Surface Technology (CLIP), a new DLP-related 3D printing process that ‘grows’ smooth, layerless 3D objects within the resin vat at speeds 25-100 times faster than traditional 3D printing. The secret to CLIP 3D printing is a special window at the bottom of the vat that is transparent to UV light. UV light shines through the window, causing the resin to solidify, while leaving an oxygen-permeable membrane below the resin, creating a ‘dead zone’ of around ten microns thick where polymerization cannot occur (high oxygen levels prevents polymerization). This allows for the 3D object to emerge continuously, in a single, smooth and solid piece, from just above the dead zone, and at speeds reaching 500mm/h.
Illustration of the FJIRSM's new DLP 3D printing technique
Though the FJIRSM’s technique builds on CLIP 3D printing technology, its innovation was to include a semi-permeable transparent element to the bottom of the resin tank that is fixed to the illumination path of the light source. This semi-permeable transparent element has a higher-than-average oxygen transmittance rate, and therefore allows more oxygen or air to be used as a curing inhibitor, widening the ‘dead zone’ and preventing the 3D object from attaching to the window. This high-speed, continuous additive manufacturing method can therefore reach printing speeds of up to 600mm per hour (1 cm per minute) or more.
While 3D printing has not yet reached ‘blink-and-you-might-miss-it’ speeds, time is money, and both consumers and manufacturers will constantly be on the lookout for increasingly fast additive manufacturing technologies that will increase their throughput, productivity, and profit. 'Continuous growth' 3D printing appears to be one of the more viable solutions and will likely be receiving more attention—and therefore more advances—as it gains traction amongst 3D printing researchers and developers.
Posted in 3D Printing Technology
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Alex wrote at 2/4/2016 1:03:51 PM:
Actually Carbon3D stole the technology from Carima. Please dont comment if you don't know the real truth.
Red wrote at 2/3/2016 6:36:53 PM:
Congratulations, they managed to recreate Carbon's patented IP.