Monday, August 18, 2014

How the Form 1+ Works from Formlabs

Form 1+
I recently had the chance to visit and tour Formlabs, where I saw firsthand some of their early prototypes and new 3D printers.

The Form 1 and Form 1+ are great 3D printers. The Form 1+ is the new version of the Form 1. It comes with many improvements, such as faster print time and more accuracy. They are both SLA (Stereolithography) printers.
The Form 1 and Form 1+ use a galvanometer system (two mirrors) to focus and direct the laser. Then the laser gets reflected off a mirror to the build plate. The laser fuses the resin together.

After each layer is printed, a motor moves the build platform up. Unlike fused deposition modeling, the Form 1 and Form 1+ have the build plate on the top instead of the bottom.

The Form 1 and Form 1+ offer significant improvements over FDM printers. When each layer is created, the way the material is bonded together ensures there will be no layer lines, making the print look significantly better. They also offer much better resolution than any other consumer 3D printer.  The layer height can be from 25 to 100 microns. 100 microns is what most desktop 3D printers offer right now. The Form 1+ is up to 50% faster than the Form 1.  The Form 1+ is more expensive than most consumer 3D printers, costing $3,299, but the print quality makes it worth the price for those seeking extremely detailed products. The Form 1 and Form 1+ also require post processing that can take an extra 22 minutes using isopropyl alcohol (which should not be handled by kids). The Form 1+ has the best resolution and print quality of any current consumer 3D printer.

While at Formlabs, I had the chance to see many examples of models they had printed out with the Form 1+ and Form 1.  Among my favorites are a rook and an action figure with a 3D printed head. This action figure's head was scanned and then 3D printed. This rook is Formlabs' new take on the rook that comes with most 3D printers. Instead of bricks stacking up, it has a beautiful spiral and a very intricate staircase.

- Sam (8th grade)

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