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3D Printing: The FORM1 Story


CrateCruncher
06-19-2013, 05:42 PM
Back in October some MIT students designed an amazing 3D printer and launched it for funding on Kickstarter. Here is their proposal:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/formlabs/form-1-an-affordable-professional-3d-printer

Most affordable 3D printers extrude melted plastic like a hot glue gun directed by software in xyz. The stereolithography process is much more sophisticated allowing layers only 25 microns thick! For scale modelers this is the difference between a blob and a part that just needs light sanding. MSRP for the machines is $3299.

They recently began shipping the first batch of printers to the first Kickstarter backers and now are facing a patent suit from 3-D Systems, makers of super expensive 6 figure priced machines that are about the same print quality. The good news is that the patent they say has been infringed is 19.5 years old and only has a 20 year life. Bottom line 3D printing is about to get a lot BETTER soon!

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/515071/next-generation-consumer-3-d-printer-arrives-but-a-lawsuit-looms/

avd
06-19-2013, 07:37 PM
So this is the far best 3-D printer compare to any else? I also thinking getting that and saw other kind but can't even tell how the quality and their strength for this formlab printer.

CrateCruncher
06-19-2013, 11:12 PM
I saw a Popular Mechanics comparison a while back that compared the Form 1 printer with the latest Makerbot extrusion printer called the Replicator 2. The author tried to make it a draw but, well read the article and judge for yourself:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/reviews/3d-printer-prizefight-makerbot-replicator-2-vs-formlabs-form-1-14731437 (http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/reviews/3d-printer-prizefight-makerbot-replicator-2-vs-formlabs-form-1-14731437)

Lownslow
06-20-2013, 04:26 AM
this is the only machine i intend on buying i was supposed to take part on the kickstarter bid but my car took a expensive turn for the worse

avd
06-20-2013, 12:22 PM
So Replicator 2 is pretty good and want to build something big than form 1. But build something really small must go for form 1 is best way. But build quality is totally same as both but I might go replicator 2

jano11
06-20-2013, 03:37 PM
I saw a Popular Mechanics comparison a while back that compared the Form 1 printer with the latest Makerbot extrusion printer called the Replicator 2. The author tried to make it a draw but, well read the article and judge for yourself:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/reviews/3d-printer-prizefight-makerbot-replicator-2-vs-formlabs-form-1-14731437 (http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/reviews/3d-printer-prizefight-makerbot-replicator-2-vs-formlabs-form-1-14731437)

The Makerbot is nowhere close to the printing quality and detail of the SLA printers.
The Form1 is way better for use for small scale model building.
What bothers me with the Form1 is the 90 days warranty for a 3300 USD priced machine.
I can't afford to buy one every year.
The price of the resin is also significant, but the print quality is worth it.

jano11
06-20-2013, 03:39 PM
So Replicator 2 is pretty good and want to build something big than form 1. But build something really small must go for form 1 is best way. But build quality is totally same as both but I might go replicator 2

Forget Replicator2 or 2x, the material is warping and curling when it cools down, also these use a 0.4mm duse for the extruder, that is not small enough for 1/24th scale details.

CrateCruncher
06-20-2013, 04:01 PM
The main thing I got from following all this the last several months is that the stereolithography process which used to be tied up in patents, is about to become available to the hobbiest/small shop. I don't know if I'm brave enough to buy one of the first Form 1's myself. I might wait for the Form 2 (or 3 etc.) or maybe one of the inevitable competitors that's sure to enter the market.

There are roughly 10 million 3D CAD developers in the world but less than 10 thousand quality printers. There's room for a LOT more printers!

jano11
06-20-2013, 04:50 PM
The main thing I got from following all this the last several months is that the stereolithography process which used to be tied up in patents, is about to become available to the hobbiest/small shop. I don't know if I'm brave enough to buy one of the first Form 1's myself. I might wait for the Form 2 (or 3 etc.) or maybe one of the inevitable competitors that's sure to enter the market.

There are roughly 10 million 3D CAD developers in the world but less than 10 thousand quality printers. There's room for a LOT more printers!

Obviously there will be better and cheaper ones available as soon as these start to be produce in large quantities in China.
At this time there are also a few other SLA's which use DLP projectors instead of a laser beam like the Form1 does. This is a much simpler setup and I think the only risk is to have to replace the DLP projector in case it burns out, which shouldn't happen very often.
Truth be told the principles are very simple and any of us could build one of these printers at home, my main issue would be the slicer and printer control software.

One could build an SLA 3D printer using a 20mW laser attached to one of those replicator types of printer heads, however the quality of the printing would still be inferior because of the loss of precision due to the inertia of the moving printing head that will also add some noise due to shaking the whole printer chassis, unless the chassis is very heavy.

In the end I will probably have a go at the Form1 or one of those available DLP printers.

jano11
06-20-2013, 04:51 PM
For example the Miicraft is a nice and well built DLP based 3D printer, the only issue is the printing volume is very small due to use of a picoDLP chip.

For those interested here's a good roundup of the better DLP 3D printers and the Form1:

http://www.cnccookbook.com/CCHighResolutionDLP3DPrinter.html

CrateCruncher
07-04-2013, 12:56 PM
It looks like formlabs continue to ship form 1 printers despite the pending 3-D Systems lawsuit over patent infringement. The judge in the case has delayed the trial and the latest rumor is that the two firms are negotiating a private settlement.

As the printers get into the hands of the early backers all kinds of experimenting and teardowns are being posted on the internet.

Here is an interesting TechCrunch video review from a proud new owner:
http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/17/living-in-the-future-with-the-form-labs-form-1/ (http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/17/living-in-the-future-with-the-form-labs-form-1/)

What's the first thing engineers do when they buy a new toy? Take it apart to see how it works of course! Here's a very interesting engineering teardown on bunnie's blog:
http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=3110 (http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=3110)

How do we know this printer can really make accurate parts for models? By subjecting it to a tortuous test print. This article explains an incredible series of shapes that were test printed, how the printer rated, and where to improve. The formlabs folks were so impressed with TJ's Stress Test they asked the author for a copy of the shape so they could use it to improve the machine:
http://adventuresin3dprinting.blogspot.com/2013/06/first-print-ever_13.html (http://adventuresin3dprinting.blogspot.com/2013/06/first-print-ever_13.html)

Mike

jano11
07-05-2013, 03:17 PM
Many thanks for those links Mike!
If nothing else comes up I plan to order a Form 1 in August. The only thing that still keeps me from it is the thought that they might come up with a better product soon!

CrateCruncher
07-05-2013, 09:37 PM
I hope you'll start a thread when you get your printer. I want one so bad I'm doing the pee dance! I haven't been this smitten with a product in a long time.

hirofkd
07-06-2013, 04:12 AM
I hope you'll start a thread when you get your printer. I want one so bad I'm doing the pee dance! I haven't been this smitten with a product in a long time.
I remember I had a similar feeling when I was shopping for my first airbrush, first Dremel, and first 2D color scanner decades ago, and all of them drastically expand what I could do.

While I can't afford Form1, and I don't think I'd buy any SLA printer until the minimum layer thickness comes down to the current professional level of 10 micron (Form1 is 25 micron).
SLA is great for small parts, but since vacuum forming is my preferred method for fabricating large parts, 100 micron is more than enough for a vacuum-forming master. I currently keep my eyes on the following printers:

Buccaneer for the design and performance.
Price: $400
Build volume: 15 x 10 x 12 cm (6 x 4 x 4.7 in)
Minimum t = 100 micron
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pirate3d/the-buccaneer-the-3d-printer-that-everyone-can-use

Robo3D for a relatively larger print size (entire 1/24 body in one go).
Price: $520 + $99 for ABS compatibility
Print size: 25 x 25 x 20 cm (10 x 10 x 8 in.)
Minimum t = 100 micron
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1682938109/robo-3d-printer

And the super affordable Makibox.
Price: $200
Build volume: 15 x 11 x 9 cm (6x4.3x3.5in)
Minimum t = ?
http://makibox.com/
But in case of Makibox, the low price isn't what caught my attention, but it was the optional pellet extruder for future release. If (and big if) we can recycle the runners from finished kits, that can reduce the material cost to zero for model builders.

CrateCruncher
07-06-2013, 04:28 PM
Interesting links Hiro. That Makibox A6 LT for only $200 isn't much more than the first bottle of resin for the form1! While I'm saving my quarters for SLA I think I may order an A6 just to get my feet wet using the technology. Maybe by then the "form2.0" will be out with better performance and for a bit less money.

jano11
07-07-2013, 04:33 AM
Excellent links Hiroaki!
I will most probably also get one of this extrusion printers for printing some larger 1/12scale parts as well as other cheaper stuff around the house.
The Bucaneer looks like something that one would like to have in his home, not sure though when they will start shipping it to ordinary customers.
The StainlessSteel MakiBox is also an alternative, especially as if it turns out, as you say that we could use our left over sprues as printing material.

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