Magical 3D Printing Process Gets Big Industry Boost

Twenty-five years ago, director James Cameron conjured up a liquid metal robot that could assume any form in seconds. But “Terminator 2” was just a movie. The M1 printer, on the other hand, is making that fantastical vision of near instantaneous, on-demand creation a reality.

Developed by Silicon Valley startup Carbon, M1 works by plunging a flat build plate into a liquid bath of resin. An ultraviolet LED projector below then flashes a two-dimensional image—a single layer of a 3D object—through the bath’s translucent container bottom and onto the plate.

The UV light causes the resin to harden at the build plate, which rises up as a continuous process deposits more material onto the growing object. Carbon calls this the Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) process.

A video of the technology at work has caught fire on internet, and a number of big-name backers have taken notice. The most recent investors include GE, BMW Group, Nikon and JSR Corp. They have chipped in more than $81 million to extend the company’s Series C funding, bringing total outside investment up to $222 million so far.

“3D printing is a translation of the digital to a physical reality and when done right offers true design freedom across every category,” said Joseph DeSimone, Carbon 3D’s CEO and cofounder. “At launch we set forth a bold vision to fundamentally change how the world makes ‘things.’ We have been working to deliver on that vision for the U.S. market, and are ready to step onto the global stage.”

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