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April 01, 2015

Professor DeSimone Co-Invents New Type of 3-D Printing Process

desimone-tedA new 3-D printing technology, called Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP), was revealed by Prof. Joe DeSimone during his talk at the TED 2015 Conference and in the cover article of the March 20 print issue of Science. The technology was developed at Carbon3D, Inc., a company co-founded by DeSimone, Alex Ermoshkin, the Carbon3D chief technology officer, and Ed Samulski, a professor in the UNC-CH Department of Chemistry. Article co-authors Rima Janusziewicz and Ashley R. Johnson, graduate students in Prof. DeSimone's lab, are working on novel CLIP applications in drug delivery and other areas.

CLIP manipulates light and oxygen to fuse objects in liquid media, creating the first 3-D printing process that uses tunable photochemistry instead of the layer-by-layer approach that has defined the technology for decades. It works by projecting beams of light through an oxygen-permeable window into a liquid resin.

The light and oxygen control solidification of the resin, creating commercially viable objects that can have feature sizes below 20 microns, or less than one-quarter of the width of a piece of paper. The technology allows ready-to-use products to be made 25 to 100 times faster than other methods and creates previously unachievable geometries that open opportunities for innovation in health care and medicine, and in other major industries such as automotive and aviation.

"In addition to using new materials, CLIP can allow us to make stronger objects with unique geometries that other techniques cannot achieve, such as cardiac stents personally tailored to meet the needs of a specific patient," said DeSimone. "Since CLIP facilitates 3-D polymeric object fabrication in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days, it would not be impossible within coming years to enable personalized coronary stents, dental implants or prosthetics to be 3-D printed on-demand in a medical setting."

Prof. DeSimone is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NCSU, and Chancellor's Eminent Professor of Chemistry at UNC-CH. The CEO of Carbon3D and currently on sabbatical from the University, DeSimone has focused on bringing the technology to market while also creating new opportunities for graduate students at NCSU and UNC-CH to use the technique for research in materials science and drug delivery.

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