March of the Makers

3D printing evolved

Adam's Weekly Blog

March of the Makers

March of the Makers

One of the great things about many of the new waves of technology we...
One of the great things about many of the new waves of technology we are seeing develop in this series of Horizons, is how it puts power into the hands of millions of people. It has a democratising effect, where millions more can become their own manufacturers. Many believe that this technology enables a new age – The March of the Makers.

3D printing captured the world’s imagination when it was first introduced. Fast forward a few years and new variations of that technology are opening up new opportunities for the entire world. It may have not transformed the lives of consumers – yet – but it has made a very significant impact on many in the world of business and research.

Global spending on 3D printing is on the rise. Nearly 11 billion U.S. dollars was spent on the technology in 2015. By 2019 it’s expected to more than double.

3D printing enabled manufacturers to make cheap prototypes and introduced a new era of flexibility. Well that young industry could be about to change again in a big way with a new kind of 3D printing technology that’s being developed here in an ex–car workshop in California.

The device claims it is single-handedly re-inventing the printing process. The technology has been created by a company called “Carbon,” – the technology is the brainchild of award winning chemist Joe DeSimone.

They say their process is different from ordinary 3D printing in almost every way, that this is the first real 3D printing process that’s been developed. In their view, what we have had so far is 2D printing which is layers of material created one on top of the other.

Their process doesn’t involve any layering at all. The model looks as if it is being pulled out of a liquid – fully formed,

They say their process is ten to twenty-five times faster than traditional 3D printing and could be even faster.

The breakthrough tech is called CLIP – short for Continuous Liquid Interface Production. It uses a photosensitive resin. Oxygen permeates a membrane at the base of the machine, keeping the resin liquid. This only hardens when it’s exposed to light.

What’s more the result is a product that they say is much stronger than something you build in traditional 3D printing.

The layer by layer process of traditional printing leads to defects in mechanical properties. This printer grows intricate shapes and lightweight lattices in one piece, increasing the strength of the product.

The emergence of 3D printers has opened up a whole new range of unexpected possibilities. If you go to any number of labs around the world – you will see how 3D printing has changed the way scientists operate. But like all new technologies the start can sometimes be faltering.

I remember my first internet enabled PC made me wait for minutes before the webpage would load – gradually appearing line by line on my screen. The first mobile phones were so large they really were only fitted in cars as they were too heavy to carry.

My guess is that the 3D printers we see now are at a similarly early stage of development. They could create a world-wide revolution that changes the way business operates and consumers behave. But these are some early steps – the big leaps could be coming soon.
More +