Formlabs’ Form 2 is like the dead-simple Mac of 3D printers

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Formlabs debuts $3,499 Form 2 3D printer with better resolution and smarter prints.

It’s been several years since Formlabs broke the old Kickstarter funding record (raising nearly $3 million of its $100,000 goal) by offering an easy-to-use 3D printer for the mainstream crowd. It’s estimated that the 3D printing market will grow to $16.2 billion by 2018, a compounded annual growth rate of 45.7 percent over the five-year period.The Form 2 also resembles a traditional desktop printer even more now, with the addition of new resin cartridges (you can still manage resin manually, if you’d like). Now that the 3D-printing market has matured a bit, with everyone from amateur artists to fashion designers using the technology, the company is presenting the next generation of its easy-to-use device: the Form 2. One company eagerly looking to capture more of this market share is Formlabs, and today it has launched a $3,499 next-generation 3D printer that offers better resolution, bigger prints, improved connectivity, and more.

This 3D printer could make amazingly detailed models using lasers and resin, a process that was at once exhilarating and, thanks to the curing process, kind of gross. The Form 1, as it was called, was one of the first consumer-oriented stereolithography printers the world had ever seen back then, and ended up being a massive success on Kickstarter, gathering up almost $3 million before the campaign concluded. At first glance, the new device looks a lot like the original and its successor, the Form 1+, sporting a boxy frame and an orange, UV light-blocking hood. Nearly four years ago, Formlabs broke onto the scene with a Kickstarter campaign where it raised over $2.9 million to bring its Form 1 printer to the market.

This time, the company has rebuilt its product from the ground up, something Formlabs cofounder Maxim Lobovsky said they’ve always dreamed of doing. On the user-friendliness front, a colour touchscreen is provided for managing print jobs, and an intuitive interface is promised with the PreForm software that boasts features such as 1-click print to make the whole print process as easy as possible. It’s about 40 percent bigger, the laser is more powerful for higher-quality prints, and it has a new cleaning system (kind of like a windshield wiper) so the plastic resin doesn’t harden to the machine overtime.

Born out of the fertile soils of the MIT Media Lab, the Formlabs Form 1 was something of a gamechanger for desktop 3D printers, shifting the conversation from simple plastic trinkets to complex resin structures. 3D printing needs to become similarly frictionless. That’s what this machine [the Form 2] is.” When you handle some of the objects that have been output from the device, which in person is not much bigger than a microwave oven turned on its side, the intricate detail and sturdiness of the printed objects is remarkable. Each printer includes a one-year warranty, as well as a copy of the company’s PreForm software, one liter of resin for printing, and a finish kit for post-processing needs. One is a new lock-and-load printer cartridge system that works much more like a traditional 2D printer, and the other is an added capacitive touchscreen on the front of the printer so you can see the progress of your prints at a glance. The crucible of delivering backer rewards was a blessing in disguise, as Formlabs found themselves with in-house sales and customer service teams, which has allowed them to sell directly to customers instead of through resellers.

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