Carbon’s CLIP Systems Expand Their Availability Through Service Bureaus
Kyle Maxey posted on March 08, 2016 |

Carbon (also known as Carbon3D), makers of Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) 3D printing systems, has announced the addition of four service bureaus to its roster of groups and companies that currently use its additive manufacturing (AM) technology.

Since its debut a year ago, CLIP technology has changed the common perception that AM is a technology that has limited usefulness to mass manufacturing.

Unlike other photo polymerization technology, CLIP uses an oxygen- and light-permeable window that forms the base of its resin tank. As the CLIP system projects light through the resin tank’s base, oxygen is simultaneously shot into the first few microns of resin, creating a dead zone where polymerization is arrested. Because the polymerization process happens above the resin tank base, the practice of delaminating a model from the base of a tank (a process common to many polymerization printers) after each layer has been built can be skipped. With the delamination step eliminated, the 3D printing process can be sped up. Carbon insists that its CLIP machine can demonstrate print times that are 25 to 100 times faster than traditional 3D printing methods. In fact, Carbon’s founder and CEO Joseph DeSimone has stated that he believes that with some more engineering, his CLIP systems can be up to 1,000 times faster, opening up more avenues to explore materials that were once off limits to 3D printers.

In their announcement, Carbon stated that four service bureaus and contract manufacturers will begin offering CLIP technology to their customers. The four service bureaus, CIDEAS, Sculpteo, The Technology House and WestStar Precision, serve a wide range of clients, from aerospace to consumer products to artists, and employ a broad portfolio of technologies, including injection molding, CNC milling, AM and other production technologies.

“Carbon’s range of engineering-grade materials are a game changer in advancing what is possible with AM,” said Mike Littrell, president of CIDEAS. “We pride ourselves on partnering with our customers to solve unique challenges, and the CLIP-based machine is a powerful tool that helps us create production-quality parts, shorten product development timelines and bring new design concepts to life.”

With the addition of CLIP systems, the company appears to be saying that its technology is fit for market. For the four service bureaus that agree, it appears that they’re make a very low-risk investment in a technology that could have the potential to fundamentally change how manufacturing operates. For now, CLIP systems have relatively small build envelopes based on the fact that it requires a ton of lumens to print an object at speed. If Carbon can begin to generate the type of light they need in order to build objects 1,000 times faster than traditional AM machines, and do it for a reasonable price, it could be a big deal for mass manufacturing. What’s more, it could have an even bigger impact on service bureaus who are on the front line of an innovation landscape that’s rapidly becoming democratized.

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