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This Terminator 2 Inspired 3D Printer Is Absolutely Mind Blowing

Carbon3DWe all remember the iconic scene in “Terminator 2” when the villainous T-1000 rises up from a puddle of metallic goo to stand fully formed as a killer robotic humanoid.

Well, the newest innovation in 3D printing looks very similar to that scene! And, it’s no mistake–Its creators were inspired by the T-1000 when designing their 3D printer.

The company is called Carbon3D and, after spending almost two years in stealth mode, have revealed themselves with a crazy new way to 3D print objects. Their new tech, which they say could be used in industrial applications within the next year, makes coveted 3D printers (like those sold by MakerBot) look like child’s play.

In this video from the Washington Post, you can see the Carbon3D printer sliding down into a pool of special resin and slowly rise out with an object seemingly formed out of nothing. And it comes out fast, too: 25 to 100 times faster than anything on the market now, according to a study published in Science. Its creators call their new process “continuous liquid interface production technology,” or CLIP. But how does it work exactly?

“We think that popular 3D printing is actually misnamed — it’s really just 2D printing over and over again,” said Joseph DeSimone, a professor of chemistry at University of North Carolina and North Carolina State as well as one of Carbon3D’s co-founders. “The strides in that area have mostly been driven by mechanical engineers figuring out how to make things layer by layer to precisely create an object. We’re two chemists and a physicist, so we came in with a different perspective.”

The pool of resin that you see in the video is designed over a digital light projection system. DeSimone explained that a special window between the resin and light allows both light and oxygen to travel through, sort of like a contact lens. To create an object, CLIP projects specific bursts of light and oxygen. Light hardens the resin and oxygen keeps it from hardening. By controlling these bursts of light and oxygen exposure at the same time, intricate shapes can be made in one piece instead of the many layers of material that usually make up a 3D printed object.

Watching the CLIP technique in action is impressive, and so are the objects it’s already produced. DeSimone hopes that this new technique’s ability to make small, smooth objects will cause breakthroughs in the tiny sensors we rely on for smartphones and fitness bands, as well as in making microneedles and other drug delivery systems.

But what’s even more impressive is that DeSimone isn’t new to the entrepreneur route. In fact, he’s been teaching and training his students to be entrepreneurs in the lab for years. Even the basic principle of the CLIP technique — keeping a polymer from forming with oxygen — is something his students frequently encounter in the classroom.

“This is a field that’s like breathing for me,” says DeSimone, “and we have an opportunity to make a big impact.” Even his fellow co-founder and UNC Professor Edward Samulski agrees: “We all teach this in our undergraduate courses. It illustrates what 1937 Nobel Laureate Albert Szent-Gyorgyi said: ‘Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.’ ”

And that is the sentiment that keeps our blog full of amazing stories about inventors and entrepreneurs. We’ve seen people turn umbrellas inside out and turn air into water inside a water bottle. If you can see something that everybody has seen, but can think of something that nobody else has thought, try creating it–You could end up blowing everyone’s minds away in the future!

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