After nearly a year of developing, it is now officially here! The Form 1 Prosumer 3D printer. This printer has the highest resolution and accuracy of all personal 3D printers currently out there. How come? It uses the SLA (Stereolithography) technology. This technology employs a vat of liquid ultraviolet curable photopolymer resin and an ultraviolet laser to build the object’s layers one at a time. This is a technology normally only found on very high end machines.
The Form 1 printer has the potential to be a big influence on the 3D printing market as it currently exists. This is what JP Morgen had to say about the launch:
“Formlabs, a Boston-based start-up company, is introducing the Form 1 3D printer at under $3,000. The printer uses low-cost Blu-ray lasers to cure plastic polymer, enabling the creation of high-resolution prototypes of up to 5x5x5 inches in size. The technology could be disruptive owing to very low-cost desk-top lasers (under $10.00), presenting a threat to incumbent 3D printer solutions at the low-end of the market in the near-term. If the Formlabs technology scales then, it could also present a threat at the highend of the market (e.g. laser sintering production systems), in the longerterm. First take: potential negative for 3D Systems.”
Formlabs is founded by Natan Linder, Maxim Lobovsky and David Cranor, all with roots at MIT Media Labs. They raised $500,000 from some big investors last year to help them get to where they are now. They’ve been able to form a team of engineers, testing and improving the Form 1 through seven generations of prototypes.
Formlabs’ resin is engineered in-house with a neutral matte gray color, which is great for look-and-feel models, standalone parts, or as a base color for painting. Over time, Formlabs will develop and sell an entire palette of materials for the Form 1. A variety of colors, transparency, flexibility, and even burnout capability for lost wax casting processes are all possible. The resin is estimated to cost around $149 per liter.
The printer forms layers as thin as 25 microns (.001 inches) with details as small as 300 microns (.012 inches) in a build volume of 4.9 x 4.9 x 6.5 inches (125 x 125 x 165mm).
Here’s an example of the quality difference between a normal desktop 3d printer (using FDM technology) and the Form 1 3D printer
Formlabs’ simple, intuitive user experience streamlines the process of importing .STL models from any 3D CAD package, generating smart support structures for complex geometry, and sending jobs to the printer with only a few clicks. Formlabs has developed highly optimized model manipulation algorithms and support structure generation engine from the ground up, so users can quickly prepare and send print jobs to the Form 1.
The printer will be available for $2,299 (early adopters price)