VANCOUVER (TIP): A terrifying killer liquid metal robot portrayed in the movie ‘Terminator’, has inspired what was heralded here as a revolution in 3D printing. At the TED conference on Tuesday, chemist Joseph DeSimone displayed a 3D printer that let creations rise from pools of molten liquid in much the way the dreaded T-1000 robot from the second ‘Terminator’ film rose from a silvery puddle. “We were inspired by the ‘Terminator 2’ scene for the T-1000,” DeSimone said.
DeSimone and co-inventors developed a technology they call Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) that harnesses powers of light and oxygen in a printer that brings designed objects quickly into existence from small reservoirs of elastic material with sophisticated properties. “We have a reservoir that holds the puddle like the T-1000,” DeSimone said. Printing finished parts at speeds competitive with current manufacturing processes is “a game changer,” he said. Current 3D printers rely on spraying layer upon layer of material, slowly building objects which takes hours. The time taken by such printers means it is not feasible to use resins that change chemically before the printing is finished. CLIP is 25 to 100 times faster than traditional 3D printers, and uses synthetic resins with mechanical properties strong enough to make them finished parts, said DeSimone. He saw the technology transforming manufacturing from cars, planes, and turbines to dental or surgical implants.