“What if 3D Printing was 100X Faster?”

Carbon-3DThere’s plenty of buzz in the world of 3D printing right now, much of which has to do with some revolutionary technology from a company Carbon 3D and a CEO named Joseph DeSimone.

In his TEDTalk recently released in March of this year, DeSimone walks the audience through his innovations in additive manufacturing (a technical name for 3D printing). The moral of the story? Well, DeSimone and his company have figured out how to speed up 3D printing- by approximately 100 times the current speed.

DeSimone’s goal was to address the issues holding 3D printing back from being an efficient manufacturing process. One of the main problems is that 3D printing is slow; as DeSimone says, “there are mushrooms that grow faster than 3D printed parts.” Other issues with the current process is that creating layer by layer leads to defects to mechanical properties, and that it’s not possible to have additional properties, like using materials that are self-curing.

With his new process, DeSimone can print 25 to 100 times faster than current 2D printers. Additionally, because the 3D printing is going so fast, the parts are “monolithic” and the properties look like injection-molded parts. This means that 3D printing could now create materials that have incredible strength, high strength-to-weight ratios, strong materials, and great elastomers (high-elasticity or high-dampening components). So, why is this so important? Well, DeSimone believes that this can actually change the face of manufacturing.

Instead of creating a prototype but not being able to go all the way to manufacturing because the parts don’t have the properties to be a final part, this process allows makers to actually manufacture their prototypes. This could have major implications for the medical field, for example: “Think about if you need a stent in an emergency situation, instead of the doctor pulling a stent out of the shelf that was just standard sizes, having a stent that’s designed for you, for your own anatomy with your own tributaries, printed in an emergency situation in real time out of the properties such that the stent could go away after 18 months: really game changing. Or, digital dentistry, and making these kinds of structures even while you’re in the dentist chair.”

Carbon3D isn’t the only company working to transform the image of 3D printing as a technology only meant for prototyping to one that could make waves in large-scale manufacturing. According to a report by Wohers in 2014, the 3D printing industry is expected to grow 31% annually from 2013 to 2020, when it will eventually become a $21 billion dollar market. In addition to the CLIP technology by Carbon 3D, Shanghai-based company Prismlab introduced their RAPID 400 3D printer, said to speed up the process by a factor of 8 to 10 and also fabricate large objects. And, as it turns out, a college student at the University of Buffalo has created an incredibly fast version of the typical 3D printer.

It’s only a matter of time before these developments revolutionize the face of manufacturing– that is, if they aren’t already.


photo credit: Screenshot via Joseph DeSimone TEDTalk