Covestro partners with 3D printing pioneer to scale up production

Article by Adam Duckett

COVESTRO is working to scale up the production of a resin developed by Silicon Valley firm Carbon that has developed a 3D printing technique that rapidly draws fully-formed objects from a vat of liquid like the T1000 robot in the Terminator 2 film.

Carbon’s CLIP process – which stands for continuous liquid interface production – captured the public imagination in 2015 when it was showcased during a TED talk by company co-founder and chemical engineering professor Joseph DeSimone.

Covestro has now announced that it is working to mass produce Carbon’s novel polyurethane liquid resin.

Jason Rolland, SVP of Materials at Carbon, said: "Covestro provides an essential ingredient for many of our polyurethane resins. Polyurethane resins have a broad range of material properties spanning from rigid to elastomeric polymers which means the material can be used to produce end-use parts for industries ranging from consumer applications to healthcare."

CLIP, which has been shown to accelerate 3D printing by up to a hundredfold compared to traditional printing techniques, works by projecting precise beams of light up through an oxygen-permeable window into a vat of UV-curable resin. As the sequence of UV images is projected, the part solidifies and the build platform rises appearing to pull the ‘printed’ object from the pool of liquid. The part is then baked in a forced-circulation oven which sets off a secondary chemical reaction which further strengthens the material. The technique eliminates the inherent weaknesses seen in other 3D printing techniques that fuse materials layer by layer.

The technology has been showcased in collaboration with a range of companies including Adidas and Wilson Tool to reduce prototyping times and costs, as well as produce uniquely-shaped materials that cannot be achieved through traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques.

Patrick Rosso, Global Head of Additive Manufacturing at Covestro says the biggest challenge to the industrial-scale use of the 3D printing lies in the supply of resins, with Covestro announcing it has invested a “significant sum” to enable commercial-scale production of the material.

"By partnering with companies like Carbon, we are pushing existing scale boundaries and supporting various industries along the value chain on their way to digital mass production,” he says.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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