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Formlabs’s Form 1 3-D printer: Affordable and professional 3-D printer

Updated on February 17, 2013

Our small study rooms have for a long time been the origin of many innovations, some of which end up being big market ideas. Most software developing houses begun this way, an aspiring programmer in a tiny room hammering codes day and night and eventually the big market beckons and another software firm is born.

Programmers, designers or engineers can draw their inspiration from anywhere but ask them what matters most when they are thinking about a new idea and they will tell you, making human life easier and affordable is their number one goal.


Have you ever imagined a model, a prototype or just a production pattern of something and wondered how it will look like in real life? Well, the reality has already been taken care of with an affordable 3-D printing capability.

When David Cranor, an electrical engineer with a passion for digital media; Maxim Lobovsky, an engineer and former project lead on the Fab@Home project; and Natan Linder, who previously co-founded an R&D center for Samsung in Israel, all graduates of MIT met and formed Formlabs, they had a common idea, to make 3-D printing accessible and affordable.

For a long time, there has been a huge market gap between the domestic hobbyist 3-D printing and professional 3-D printing. The gap notwithstanding, the market prices of 3-D printers are way too high with high end market for a 3-D hobbyist printer at $3,500 and a professional 3-D printer that start at $10,000.

Form 1 3-D printer from Formlabs

Form 1 3-D printer
Form 1 3-D printer | Source

Desktop 3-D printing has largely been the domain of extrusion-based machines like MakerBot’s Replicator but still, stereolithography technology where UV light cures incredibly thin layers of resin to create objects on par with manufactured goods remains elusive or simply, unaffordable.

The trio of David Cranor, Maxim Lobovsky and Natan Linder has developed Form 1 3-D printer that will easily edge out even the most professional 3-D printing machines out there in the market.

It uses stereolithography technology with a high-precision positioning system that directs a laser onto a tray of liquid resin. It is a 3-D printer with self-developed technique and designed with a sole intention of bringing stereolithography to the masses.

3-D printing is associated with experts and requires someone entirely dedicated to the job with hands-on skills due to complex software.

World Maker Faire 2012: Formlabs Form 1 3D Printer

Form 1 3-D Printer can print objects with a resolution four times higher than professional FDM 3-D printers.
Form 1 3-D Printer can print objects with a resolution four times higher than professional FDM 3-D printers. | Source

The developers of Form 1 3-D printer factored this in their design and made it simple with user-friendly functionality. The software precisely generates thin breakable support structures that serve their purpose during printing but are easily removed afterward.

The Form 1 printer can import models from 3-D CAD packages and it comes with its own software tailored for average users. This allows designers, engineers or even students to enjoy the same high-performance of professional 3-D printing.

The translucent orange box on the top of the machine protects the resin inside from UV rays but also lets designers see their products being built in real time.

Form 1 3-D printer uses a neutral matte gray that is great for look-and-feel models.
Form 1 3-D printer uses a neutral matte gray that is great for look-and-feel models. | Source

Form 1 3-D printer provides a smooth high-accuracy manufacturing process which makes translucent parts and complex geometries possible. Plastic is not deposited on a build platform instead; parts are extracted from a gooey pool of resin.

It can print objects 4.9 by 4.9 by 6.5 inches with layers that are just 25 microns (0.001 inches) thick and a resolution four times higher than a professional MakerBot’s Replicator.

The Form 1 can imports models from 3-D CAD packages and it comes with its own software tailored for average users.
The Form 1 can imports models from 3-D CAD packages and it comes with its own software tailored for average users. | Source

While many 3-D printing processes need finishing steps to get the product into its final ready-to-use form, a print-out product from Form 1 3-D printer has only small amount of liquid resin on its surface. And to take care of that, Form 1 printer comes with finishing kit consisting of a finishing tray and accessories set to assist in keeping your workspace clean and organized during this process.

Formlabs has successfully raised and even surpassed its target of project funding at KickStarter and it is no doubt the Form 1 3-D printer is a reality. If you are frustrated by the low-end 3-D printers which don’t have the quality to make the true beauty of your designs and you wish to have the real power and resolution of a truly professional 3-D printing machine on your desktop, that should the Form 1 3-D printer from Formlabs.


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