Back in 2012, Boston-based Formlabs managed to attract almost US$3 million in crowdfunding for the launch of its original Form 1 SLA (stereolithographic) 3D printer, which shipped in May of the following year. Though it may look somewhat similar to its handsome predecessor, the company says that it has completely overhauled the design for its new Form 1+ high resolution desktop model, re-engineering mechanical components for improved reliability and offering users faster printing at higher quality.
Rather than heating and melting plastic filaments fed from spools like desktop fused deposition modeling (FDM) machines such as the Replicator or Micro, the Formlabs machines work by directing a laser across a tank of liquid photopolymer resin using a system of precision mirrors. The resin solidifies in thin layers and the model is built up out of the tank. While developing the Form 1+, the company is reported to have looked at every part of the 3D printer to improve performance and reliability.
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The new second generation Class 1 violet laser is claimed four times more powerful than its predecessor, improving printing speed by up to 50 percent. Formlabs says that actual print speed varies according to the complexity of the model, but users can expect somewhere in the region of about 1 cm per hour along the Z-axis. The rook pictured below, for example, is said to have taken about 2 hours to produce and used up 13 ml (0.4 fl oz) of resin.
The peel motor assembly has been reinforced for increased durability, and the galvanometer control system has been redesigned for more detailed models with a smoother surface finish. The 30 x 28 x 45 cm (12 x 11 x 18 in), 8 kg (18 lb) Form 1+ offers a build envelope of 125 x 125 x 165 mm (4.9 x 4.9 x 6.5 in), and can produce layers of 25 microns (0.001 in) thick, with a minimum feature size of 300 microns (0.012 in). A light-blocking injection-molded resin tank has also been added to make storage of unused resin easier.
Models are loaded into the Form 1+ over USB from a computer or laptop running the new Windows/Mac PreForm 1.5 software, which features manual support editing and is capable of working from STL or OBJ input files, and outputs to the FORM format.
The Form 1+ is shipped fully assembled and calibrated, and includes a liter of resin and a finishing kit, so it should arrive ready to use out of the box. It's priced the same as the original, at US$3,299, and is now backed by a 12-month warranty. Factory upgrades for existing Form 1 machines start at $749.
A new black resin joins the white, clear and gray variants in the company's materials box, and is priced at $149 per liter. A European branch of the Formlabs online store has also been launched.
The Form 1+ is introduced in the video below.
Product page: Form 1+