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Form 1+ 3D Printer: Create highly detailed sculptural prints — fast.
Image by Brian Kaldorf.

The upgraded Form 1+ is sleek and the design is flawless. No part of the construction feels weak or cheaply made. Operation is silent and underwhelming. The resulting prints are not. The Form1+ is a stereolithography system (SLA), drawing each slice of the model into liquid resin with a laser to harden it. As the build platform moves up, a solid model appears out of the liquid.

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Form 1+
formlabs.com
Price as Tested $3,299
Build Volume 125×125×165mm
Z Resolution 25/50/100 microns ( 0.025/0.05/0.10mm)
XY Resolution 300 microns (0.30 mm)
Materials Clear, White, Gray, and Black detail UV curable resin
Print Untethered? Kickoff via USB
Software PreForm
OS Mac, Windows
Open Software? No
Open Hardware? No

FASTER AND MORE ACCURATE

The Form 1+ features a new, 4x more powerful laser that cuts print time in half, a re-engineered galvanometer control system to increase speed and accuracy, and an improved peel mechanism. Capable of 0.1, 0.05 and 0.025mm layer heights and with a minimum feature size of 0.3mm, it can’t match the B9 or ProJet’s claimed resolutions, but they can’t match its build area.

MULTICOLOR MATERIAL STORAGE AND SWAPPING

The included injection-molded resin tanks have been upgraded to a light-blocking orange acrylic, enabling safe storage of unused resin with the included lids. This allows the user to switch resin colors between prints.

EXTENSIVE DOCUMENTATION

The included quick-start guide gets you unboxed and up and printing in less than 30 minutes, and it includes information on how to setup your included finishing station. Plus, Formlabs has an extensive support site.

PREFORM SOFTWARE

The Form 1+ excels at sculptural prints and targets designers. SLA machines must create support structures to enable overhangs (which are removed postfabrication). Formlabs’ continually updated Preform software has numerous auto-generating and custom support-material editing functions (which work extremely well), and placement and removal features (added after our testing) that enable advanced control of placement and density, giving designers complete control over where they adhere to print surfaces.

SOME PRINT FAILURES, NO CASTABLE RESIN

We did experience a few failed prints that couldn’t be explained. Occasionally we had a layer that did not peel, which means every subsequent layer was blocked from curing, and we had to fish resin chunks out of the vat. One downside for some users is that the Form 1+ does not have castable resin options. (See B9 Creator and ProJet).

CONCLUSION

The Form 1+’s upgrades make an already-solid user experience (we called its predecessor a “modern marvel”) even better. While the cost of the machine is higher than most desktop printers, its output and build volume is unparalleled. For those who want incredible print detail and numerous resin color choices but don’t need castable resin, it’s an easy choice.

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PRO TIPS
– The Formlabs support site is an awesome resource — use the active community forum.
– When prints fail, stop the build early, clean the bottom of the resin tank, and restart. Careful sifting of cured resin will ensure subsequent prints are successful.
WHY TO BUY
The level of detail is ideal for someone making lab apparatus for microfluidics, detailed character animation, sculpture, or jewelry. It’s so easy to use that anyone from an artist to a student or teacher can explore this new medium. I work in a science center, and we plan to use it for many different teaching aids and models. From DNA molecules to magnifying tiny insects, you can output a level of detail that is impossible with other 3D-printing technologies.
Formlabs makes its products upgradable and is currently offering a $1,200 upgrade package for the previous model owners.


PRINTING WITH UV-RESIN

UV-resin based printers require a different workflow than thermoplastic printers where the only danger that occurs is proximity to hot beds and nozzles. UV-resin is a chemical that needs to be treated with care. In its liquid form it is an irritant and should be kept away from your skin, eyes, and nose. You will notice a characteristic odor when the lid is open, but you never smell that when the printer is in operation with the lid sealed.

Proper use of gloves and paper towels will ensure a clean environment. You should not use this machine in a dusty or dirty workplace — you don’t want to contaminate the resin with any sort of particle. Carefully allowing excess resin to drain from the print and preventing drips goes a long way to keeping your area clean. During the review we went through a lot of gloves and wipes to ensure a safe test environment.