Formlabs Tips Hi-Res ‘Form 2’ 3D Printer

22 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Formlabs Tips Hi-Res ‘Form 2’ 3D Printer.

Formlabs, the designer and manufacturer of stereolithography (SLA) 3D-printing systems including the Form 1+, today announced the launch of Form 2, the company’s second-generation high-resolution, desktop SLA 3D printer. 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 brings bigger prints, connected capabilities, and a simplified, intuitive printing experience to artists, engineers, product designers, and other professionals. But a small company from Massachusetts called Formlabs has spent the last few years quietly (to most of the world) making one of the best desktop printers on the market, balancing high quality with relatively low cost.

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. 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.

Instead of building objects by applying small amounts of plastic layer by layer, Formlabs’ printers use a process called stereolithography, during which a laser gets shined into a bath of liquid photopolymer, or resin, curing it into a solid object bit by bit. A new sliding peel mechanism, wiper, and heated resin tank reduces wear on the resin tank, improves print consistency by removing particles from the build area, and maintains consistent internal temperature for optimal print conditions.

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. 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 approachability of 3D printing might be increasing at what feels like a snail’s pace, but dozens of startups were showcasing printers half the price or cheaper than what Formlabs offers at CES this year. Stereolithography 3D printers, which offer higher resolution and better print quality than 3D printers that use plastic filament, have traditionally been very expensive, sometimes in the six figures. When Formlabs co-founder Max Lobovsky showed us the original Form 1 at CES in 2013, he called it “the first professional-quality machine that’s below $10,000.” The Form 1 was capable of printing objects at four times the resolution of conventional desktop printers of that era for tens of thousands of dollars less.

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