Formlabs Form 1 Printer Revolution in 3D Printing Worlds
Simple. Elegant. Powerful. The Form 1 is a 3D printer designed to match the creative talents of individual designers and engineers at a price they can afford.
The Form 1’s stereo lithography (SL) technology approaches the highest resolution available in 3D printing, blowing away plastic extrusion (FDM) performance. The printer forms layers as thin as 25 microns (.001 inches) with details as small as 300 microns (.012 inches) in a build volume of 4.9 x 4.9 x 6.5 inches (125 x 125 x 165mm). Users can print parts with the complex geometries, exquisite details, and beautiful surface finish required by design professionals.
Stereo lithography Technology
In the rapid prototyping world, stereo lithography (SL) is the gold standard for accuracy and resolution. SL is a resin based printing process ideal for detailed and complex parts. A high precision positioning system directs a laser onto a tray of liquid resin and traces out each cross sectional layer, causing the resin to harden. This process repeats until a full part is constructed. Printing is simple, reliable, and quiet.
Formlabs’ resin is engineered in-house with a neutral matte gray color, which is great for look and-feel models, standalone parts, or as a base color for painting. Over time, Formlabs will develop and sell an entire palette of materials for the Form 1. A variety of colors, transparency, flexibility, and even burnout capability for lost wax casting processes are all possible.
Formlabs’ simple, intuitive user experience streamlines the process of importing .STL models from any 3D CAD package, generating smart support structures for complex geometry, and sending jobs to the printer with only a few clicks. Formlabs has developed highly optimized model manipulation algorithms and support structure generation engine from the ground up, so users can quickly prepare and send print jobs to the Form 1.
The Form 1 has been designed from the ground up to enhance the creativity of individuals, so it is only appropriate that early adopters are the key to launching this revolutionary product. With any 3D printing process, there are key finishing steps to get the print into its ready-to-use form. Formlabs has designed the Form Finish kit - a finishing tray and accessories package to equip users with easy part finishing tools, while keeping their workspaces clean and organized.
Designing the Form 1
Formlabs is driven by the intersection of design and engineering. Along the journey towards accessible, high-end stereo lithography technology the Formlabs team realized that engineering a well-functioning and reliable 3D printer was only half the challenge. The other half was to unify product design and user experience as an integral part of the designer, engineer, or maker's desktop environment. The Form 1's product design effort was led by Industrial Designer Yoav Reches, who worked in close collaboration with lead mechanical engineers Ian Ferguson and Jason Livingston. Early in the development process, Yoav brought a holistic, user-centered design approach that identified the challenges of creating a complete 3D printing workflow that is accessible, aesthetic and functional. The design process involved many iterations of models, prototypes, and ergonomic studies, and the team focused on deep evaluation and improvement of the user-product interaction within the target environment: the desktop.
Through continuous refinement of the Form 1’s user interface affordances, Formlabs team were able to carefully choose materials, components and the manufacturing process itself.
The Form Finish Kit was designed to complement a seldom-discussed but enormously important part of the 3D printing process -the finishing steps. With any system, newly printed parts require some form of manual steps to arrive at a final, useable result. The Form Finish Kit completes the print process with a curated set of tools, each carefully selected for an intuitive and simple experience that makes the final steps easy, clean, and organized.
Formlabs has had an intense focus on the needs of the user from the company's earliest days. The team is proud to present not just a 3D printer, but an entire experience that consists of the intuitive and easy-to-use Form software, the head-turning design of the Form 1 printer, and the Form Finish kit.
A few in-Form-ative facts about Formlabs:
- Despite an astonishingly low price, the desktop Form 1 printer achieves the professional resolution of high-end 3D printers that cost tens of thousands of dollars.
- The Form 1's stereo lithography (SL) technology approaches the highest resolution available in 3D printing, blowing away plastic extrusion (FDM) performance.
- The printer forms layers as thin as 25 microns (.001 inches) with details as small as 300 microns (.012 inches) in a build volume of 4.9 x 4.9 x 6.5 inches (125 x 125 x 165mm).
- Formlabs has designed an end-to-end user experience including easy-to-use Form software (compatible with any 3D CAD package) and the Form Finish accessories kit.
- No longer limited to low-end FDM machines, Form 1 users can now print parts with the complex geometries, exquisite details, and beautiful surface finish necessary for professional quality design and digital fabrication.
- Maxim Lobovsky, David Cranor, and Natan Linder met as graduate students at the MIT Media Lab in 2009 as classmates in MIT's legendary How To Make (almost) Anything class. They officially founded Formlabs in September 2011.
- Seed investors include Mitch Kapor, Joi Ito, and Eric Schmidt's Innovation Endeavors.
- There are approximately 30,000 professional quality 3D printers installed in the world but 10 million users of 3D CAD software. Formlabs is targeting this disparity.