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Formlabs creates Blu-ray based prosumer 3D printer


September 26, 2012

Formlabs desktop 3D printer Form 1

Formlabs desktop 3D printer Form 1

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Formlabs, a start-up led by MIT researchers, has created a desktop 3D printer that uses stereolithography (SLA) technology normally reserved for costly high-end printers. While other at-home 3D printers use a process where ABS plastic is melted and extruded in thin strips, SLA uses lasers to cure liquid resin in microscopic layers. The Form 1 3D printer, which is described as the first "prosumer" 3D printer, accomplishes this using the same type of laser found in your Blu-ray player.

The Form 1 3D printer produces layers of just 25 microns, about ten microns thicker than some of the most advanced (and expensive) printers on the market today. And it will do this in your home for less than US$3,000. For comparison, the Makerbot Replicator 2 prints parts with a layer resolution of 100 microns.

The resin material used by the printer will cost about $150 a liter, and will eventually be offered in a variety of colors, transparencies, and even elasticities. The included Form software imports .STL files and automatically generates the support structures required to print parts with overhangs.

One of the drawbacks of the technology is the finishing that parts require after printing (such as the removal of said support structures). To help you get the job done, the package includes the Form Finish Kit which packs a variety of accessories.

Another issue is the build volume, which determines how big a part can be. The Form 1 printer has a smaller build volume (4.9 x 4.9 x 6.5 in / 125 x 125 x 165 mm) compared to the Replicator 2 (11.2 x 6.0 x 6.1 in / 285 x 153 x 155 mm). However, this may not be a deal breaker, given the visible difference in quality of the printed parts.

Last year, the company raised $500,000 to develop the printer from investors that included Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman. As of this writing they have already quadrupled their funding goal on the project's Kickstarter page.

You can hear from the company's founders and see the printer in action in the video below.

Source: Formlabs via 3ders

About the Author
Jason Falconer Jason is a freelance writer based in central Canada with a background in computer graphics. He has written about hundreds of humanoid robots on his website Plastic Pals and is an avid gamer with an unsightly collection of retro consoles, cartridges, and controllers. All articles by Jason Falconer

The filmed presentation would have been a hell of a lot more interesting if the silly producers introduced music which was considerably louder than those speaking. Seems to be dreadfully commonplace, unfortunately. Who cares about the bloody music???


it's pretty cool... but there's one out there using a DLP projector so they can do the whole layer at once without scanning issues...


I so want one.


We have lived to see the future.


I can't wait until every house has a 3D printer. Just amazing technology.

Christian Gehrke

3-D Printing is currently in the infancy of its development! The future of this technology is certainly exciting! It will be a boon to many aspects of the components manufacturing industries. Much of the internal parts of virtually everything from 'ear rings to false teeth' will be replicated using this technology! I suppose I should have a variety of mixed feelings, because many who have the maturity to focus on the potential of this technology like me, won't be around to experience it! But then, from appearances of what turmoil engulfs our world currently, this possibly may be a blessing in disguise!

Robert Gillis

I used to want one but now that I think about it I don't know what I would make with it. I look around my house and nothing is made from just plastic. I always look at the photos that come with these articles and see nothing they make that interests me. You have to ask yourself, why would every home need one and what would they make with it?

The Hoff

Aw, come on. Where's your imagination, "The Hoff"? From sculpted toothbrush holders to individualized handgrips and handles to fasteners for other materials to specialized containers and intricate linkages and detail for miniatures of all sorts, there are a lot (like a LOT) of uses, and Jay Leno is also a fan; as he has old cars that need parts that are no longer manufactured.

Michael Barreto
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