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Watch This 3D Printer Make Objects From Liquid

Enthusiasts can describe 3D printing many ways, but generally speaking, "quick" and "fun to watch" are not among them. The Carbon3D, a 3D printer with a novel method of creating objects, could change that perception. This printer uses a sophisticated combination of light and liquid resin to create objects much faster than traditional 3D printing.

Carbon3D shared information about the upcoming printer on its website, as well as a video that demonstrates how the process works. The printer uses a photosensitive liquid resin, which reacts to both ultraviolent light and oxygen. By controlling the interplay between the two, the Carbon3D can create extremely fine objects by turning them from liquid to solid in relatively little time.

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In the video, a mechanical arm lowers into the liquid resin, then "extracts" an object. Although the object in question (a pink polyhedron) appears to rise from the resin, T-1000 Terminator style, it is actually printing by providing UV light and oxygen in some places, and blocking them in others.

Carbon3D claims that this process has two major advantages over its competitors: speed and fineness. To print the same polyhedron on an SLA, SLS or Polyjet printer (three common, competing 3D printing technologies) would take 11.5, 3.5 or 3 hours, respectively. The Carbon3D's CLIP technology can supposedly produce it in 6.5 minutes.

Furthermore, creating objects by layering resin means that traditionally 3D printed objects are not smooth at a very fine scale. As CLIP can create objects with uniform characteristics, Carbon3D claims that its printer is both smoother and more durable. Users will also be able to print a wide variety of materials with the Carbon3D, such as elastomers for shoes and polymers for car parts.

The only things that Carbon3D hasn't shared yet are a price and release date for its device. Interested consumers can sign up for a mailing list on the website, but beyond that, it's not clear exactly whom the Carbon3D is for, nor when it will arrive. Don't expect it to come cheap, however; if it works as advertised, a faster, more durable product will probably cost more than the existing technology.

Marshall Honorof is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.