Rumors were swirling of the launch of a new 3D printer by a relatively unknown, yet pedigree group of MIT grads who call themselves Formlabs. And yesterday, they unveiled the Form 1 3D Printer on Kickstarter. Backed by glowing recommendations of John Hirschtick and Skylar Tibbits, the Form 1 seems to be an ‘it’s all that’ design. Encased in sleek metal and capped with a orange cover, it seems to exude a minimal and professional look. Utilizing Stereolithography (yet avoiding the patents, apparently), the Form 1 is capable of high quality 3D prints. Resin-based printing – it’s all the rage. And you can’t say there isn’t a need for better 3D printing at a lower cost. $500,000 in 24 hours. All of their $2,299 and $2,499 have been sold out. !@&*(& WHOA HOW?
What’s Better About the Form 1
First off, a better team. Junior Veloso was the first to experiment with DIY stereolithography, but he was too cagey to really get things going (and has fallen off the map – anyone know more?). The B9 Creator came out of nowhere by a former NASA engineer Micheal Joyce – and he did very well ($500K). However, the Form 1 really takes the cake. Beautiful design. Quality software. In other words, a professional product. The resolution is significantly higher than FDM or existing low-cost SL 3D Printers. 25 microns. Very cool. 125x125x165 mm build volume. That’s plenty. Colours? You can have any, as long as it’s flat grey.
Is Resin a Reasonable Option?
I have a few qualms with Stereolithography that haven’t been addressed by anyone – let alone Formlabs. And it should be said. Unlike FDM prints (ie/ Makerbot), SL prints are much more brittle and sensitive to humidity and light. The material is cured by UV light – and under exposure to sunlight, the curing process continues until CRACK. It’s broken.
One great fact about FDM 3D printers is that they use engineering polymers. In other words, you can toss em around and use them. Form1 is great for architects who want to visualize their latest project. Forget about the hobbyist that wants a kick-ass case for his Raspberry Pi to use on his DIY weather-station. Unless you heavily paint it. Nevertheless, I’ve held a conviction that SL is cool but not the best – it’s about the powder. That’s where it’s at. Once the patents expire next year.
Or screw ‘em. This revolution is too important for patents.