Understanding Carbon CLIP Technology (Digital Light Synthesis)

Representation of the Dead Zone in the Carbon CLIP technology

Silicon Valley-based technology and manufacturing company, Carbon, can be called as a mini innovation centre. The core reason its success lies in its technology. The Carbon CLIP technology (or Continuous Liquid Interface Production) enabling the development of Digital Light Synthesis™ (DLS).

In its 5 years of operation, it holds 35 patents with more than 250 patents pending with the USPTO. Regularly raising massive funding rounds and building strategic partnerships with industry leaders like Adidas, Johnson & Johnson, Vitamix, Incase, etc.

Let us try to understand the revolutionary Carbon CLIP technology.

Carbon CLIP technology

The Carbon CLIP technology is a patented technology originally granted to EiPi Systems in 2015 but is now developed by Carbon. It was invented by the CEO and Co-founder of Carbon, Joseph DeSimone along with Alexander and Nikita Ermoshkin and Edward T. Samulski.

Above: Carbon M1 3D Printer Demo Video/Video Credit: Carbon/YouTube

Carbon CLIP technology uses an ultraviolet light to cure (harden) a photosensitive liquid resin held in a vat above the light. The build platform is dipped initially in the liquid resin and is subsequently drawn upwards to literally pull the 3D object out of the resin.

Carbon CEO & Co-founder Joe DeSimone
Above: Carbon CEO Joseph DeSimone/Image Credit: Carbon

Carbon CEO Joseph DeSimone, in a 2015 TED Talk cited a scene from the 1992 film Terminator 2: Judgement Day, where the T-1000 machine emerges from a liquid metallic pool being the inspiration for the development of the technology.

Representation of the Dead Zone in the Carbon CLIP technology
Above: Representation of the Dead Zone/Image Credit: Carbon

The process begins with the build platform dipped in the liquid photosensitive resin held in a vat. The vat is held on an oxygen-permeable window (the window). While the UV light engine projects from beneath the window. The light engine flashes a stream of image per layer onto the vat through the oxygen-permeable window. This window allows for oxygen to pass through it in minute quantities. This is responsible for creating a thin liquid interface of uncured (unhardened) resin between the window and the part itself. The thin liquid interface literally the ‘no-reaction zone’ is called as ‘dead zone’. The dead zone is extremely thin equal to only one-third of a human hair. This not only enables a continuous flow of oxygen and liquid between the window and the pat but also avoids the part sticking to the window itself.

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It is this proprietary technology relating to the dead zone, which makes Carbon CLIP and DLS technology so remarkable. The dead zone directly results in high-quality surface finish and high-performance parts with superior mechanical properties of the printed part. Due to this unique zone, the parts can be continuously printed unlike those in SLA and DLP 3D printers.

The printing occurs in a cascade-like effect which only partially cures the part. Once the complete part is printed, the part is not ready for use. Such a printing gives only the desired shape to the part. It still does not exhibit superior properties Carbon boasts about. Now the part has to be baked in a thermal bath or oven. This baking stirs up another chemical reaction which strengthens the part even more and improving all its properties.

Carbon with its revolutionary technology is transforming the sector by providing a solution for manufacturing parts with the superior surface finish, superior mechanical properties, and real-world application.

Digital Light Synthesis TM

Compressor Rotor made from Cyanate Ester using Carbon CLIP Technology
Above: Compressor Rotor made from Cyanate Ester/Image Credit: Carbon

Digital Light SynthesisTM is enabled by Carbon CLIP technology. It accurately balances the interaction of UV light with the oxygen through the window to create a dead zone, core to the complete Carbon CLIP technology which not only makes continuous printing possible but also prevents the part adhesion to the window.

This helps in the quick manufacturing of parts. Carbon claims to manufacture parts at speeds 100 times the existing resin printers.


Carbon has enabled companies to create complex parts previously not possible.

Parts manufactured with Carbon CLIP technology are comparable to injection moulded parts as they exhibit uniform mechanical properties across the complete product.

The printed parts have a superior surface finish, uniform properties across all cross-sections, and can be printed from customised materials with properties best suited to the parts’ use.

Carbon recently collaborated with Vitamix, a global leader in high-performance blending equipment, to create a monolithic 3D Printed Micro-Fluidic Nozzle previously which previously was an assembly of six different moulded parts.

Carbon collaborated with Adidas on their Futurecraft 4D shoe, a unique blend of performance and engineering.

Carbon CLIP technology along with Digital Light SynthesisTM is a revolutionary technology which, as of today, is unmatchable. The superior solution offered by Carbon in terms of hardware, software, materials, service, and support makes it a company to watch out for every enthusiast, learner, engineer, customer and even the competitor.


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