back to article Formlabs preps first home stereolithic 3D printer

3D printing geeks have become very excited about Formlabs' Form 1, the first home-oriented stereolithography 3D printer. While affordable 3D printers are becoming more widespread, what makes the Form 1 special is that instead of piping resin through an extruder, it uses lasers to heat and harden a point within a bath of liquid …

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  1. Alan Firminger

    This is worth a look, there is magic for three seconds :http://formlabs.com/ .

  2. Ru
    Terminator

    Heating the resin?

    I'm sure most other folk used a resin which cured when zapped with bright light. I'd be surprised if this device didn't do the same, only with a small laser and a little mirror on a galvanometer head instead of a DLP-based system.

    Worth noting that the resin ir produces won't be as tough as extruded or sintered plastic, nor as easy to work with post-build... and perhaps most importantly, you can't build a model in multiple different colours. Make a nice desktop prototyping rig though, especially if they keep to that price and don't go all budget-inkjet-printer-manufacturer on their pricing schemes.

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    This Formlabs system doesn't work in the same way as traditional SLS systems. They can add material to the model at any x,y,z point in the tank of resin, since they rely on two intersecting lasers to polymerise the resin (one laser leaving the resin unaffected). However, two lasers, a tank of resin and correction for refraction as the lasers cross material boundries are required.

    Formlabs build layer by layer, using supports, much like sintering or fused material deposition (FDM, the most common '3D printing') only upside down. Pictures here: Formlabs printer

  4. Crisp
    Go

    Nice to see this technology gradually improving.

    It's got a while to go before I can print out a new exhaust for my car though.

  5. jai

    I so want one of these. I've no idea what I'd actually use it for, and I'd certainly end up getting bored and stop using it after a week, but it'd be a week filled with wonder and marvel.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      There's all manner of stupid little bits of plastic that snap and you wish you could replace them.

      Of course the real problem then is learning to use a CAD system to be able to produce the 3D model of what you want to make :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Need 3D laser scanner to go with it

        There's all manner of stupid little bits of plastic that snap and you wish you could replace them.

        Of course the real problem then is learning to use a CAD system to be able to produce the 3D model of what you want to make :)

        ----

        Then you don't need a CAD system, so long as you (or some helpful person on the web) can scan an unbroken version of that plastic part.

        Then the next question is how would the strength of these replacement parts hold up? If they can make it as strong as whatever that horrible stuff that's used for packaging that is difficult (and dangerous if you're careless) to cut even with some heavy duty scissors, then they'll really have something!

    2. IHateWearingATie
      Thumb Up

      @Jai...

      ...you took the words right out of my mouth.

      Must control gadget magpie impulse, WANT SHINY NEW GADGET

  6. John Latham
    Boffin

    SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

    The combination of Alien/Ghostbusters goo and frikkin laser beams is too much to resist.

  7. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    New Opportunity for Office Theft

    I would imagine this new tech will play out just like color printing and photocopying did before. Offices will invest in it on some pretense, workers will use it more for personal use than for what it was officially purchased, the price will come down enough for personal ownership to become widespread, and (finally) tons of money will make its way to printer manufacturers who will charge for the media at >1000% markup on its original value.

    Look here for a sneak peek at the end game: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/07/04/printer_ink_seven_times_more/

    In the mean time, plenty of minis and toys to be printed on the boss' dime.

    1. thejackle
      Coat

      Re: New Opportunity for Office Theft

      But it would provide more creative opportunities than just photocopying your ar$e at the Christmas party.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: New Opportunity for Office Theft

        Why, is there a "firm but flexible" substitute for the resin?

      2. Crisp

        Re: New Opportunity for Office Theft

        Theoretically you could scan in and reproduce any body part that would fit in the printer.

        Or you could scale it down to fit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Coat

          Re: New Opportunity for Office Theft

          I think you'd find the market for scaling UP would be more profitable...

  8. Ian Michael Gumby
    Thumb Up

    A Challenge for EL Reg!

    Can you get your hands on one and use it to manufacture all of the parts required to put together for a remote controlled glider or RC plane?

    Imagine making all of the frame and struts out of this plastic including the propeller.

    Then all you would have to do would be to assemble the parts and put a skin on it.

    I would think this would be a unique opportunity to sell more airplane models as well as a way to teach aerodynamics.

    Or even RC boats.

    1. Code Monkey

      Re: A Challenge for EL Reg!

      LIke this?

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/07/28/sintered_aircraft/

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