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Formlabs start up LED display
The Formlabs logo greets you when the machine starts up — reassuring cool blue lets you know you're cool too.
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Formlabs Form1 Promo Video
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Form1 and Eiffel Tower
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Selection of Formlabs parts
It never rains but it pours, as the saying goes, never more true than the last week. With TCT Live in full swing and the Personalize Pavilion packed for the duration of the show, Formlabs dropped news of the Form1 3D printer.
Formlabs describe the Form1 as: 'An end-to-end package. Printer, software, and post-processing kit that just works. Right out of the box.' All sounds very Apple-esque, and looking at the shiny marketing, coverage in Wired and professional video (left) they're certainly not going for the shabby chic maker look.
This is the first 3D printer to use true Stereolithography (SL) at this price point — and in terms of print quality it is way ahead of its extrusion-based counterparts. The SL process was developed by Charles 'Chuck' Hull, the man that went on to form 3D printing behemoth 3D Systems way back in 1986. You can see a video of the man himself explaining the principles of the process HERE.
The Form1 is a small machine by SL standards, which are generally much larger in professional settings, right up to the Materialse 'Mammoth' SL machines housed in that companies Leuven HQ. To see these monsters in action, take a look HERE.
Quality wise, it looks difficult to argue with the demo parts shown on the company's website — some classic chess pieces on display (with internal stairscase of course) and little birds in little cages. Nice.
The price of the system is, for anyone used to the 'professional' SL systems, quite staggering. A pledge of $2,299 on Kickstarter would have been enough to secure you one of the first printers... I say 'would have been' because the project raised the target $100,000 in just 2.5 hours, and broke the $500,000 barrier in under 24 hours. An incredible achievement, but one that makes me a little uneasy.
Uneasy because of this — we're at the top of the cycle here. The hype is fever-pitch, the expectation huge and the experience low. Now, with the money from Kickstarter, the money from their high-profile investors and a level head, there is no reason that this project could not be an enormous success for the Formlabs team. I'd love one of these printers, and there are plenty of professional and non-professional users that would too.
We will have to wait for the pricing post-Kickstarter, and for details on resin costs etc, but if they keep it cheap enough I see this doing very well indeed.