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SIP06-Formlabs-Form1

Formlabs / formlabs.com

Price as tested $3,299 assembled, includes 1 liter resin
Build volume 4.9″×4.9″×6.5″
Print materials UV-cured resin
OS supported Mac, Windows
Print untethered? Computer can be disconnected after print begins
Open-source hardware? No
Open-source software? No
Printer control software PreForm
Slicing software PreForm

The Form 1 is the first entrant into the consumer SLA 3D printing market, built by Cambridge, Mass.-based Formlabs. As of press time, it’s also the highest-funded 3D printer on Kickstarter ever, raking in just under $3 million. The Form 1 uses a UV laser beam steered by a mirror galvanometer system to selectively cure a liquid photopolymer film to form each layer.

Stereolithography-raster-illustration

James Delaney / Form Labs Inc.

Sharp Looks, Seamless Function

This is a gorgeous machine — sleek and minimalistic with a matte aluminum chassis, OLED display, bright orange cover, and single-button interface. It has two cable connections: one power and one USB.

The Form 1 works as well as it looks. The software interface is streamlined to match the hardware; the process really is as simple as loading the file and hitting Print (or “Form,” as they call it). The PreForm software also has a unique, built-in feature that notifies you if the model has errors and helps you orient it correctly for printing. More experienced users can tweak options ranging from layer resolution to support structure parameters.
The instructions are simple and clear. Between them and the intuitive interface, we had our first object printing in less than 30 minutes out-of-the-box.

Forming Up

We tested the Form 1 using the bundled clear resin (an opaque grey is also available). The software offers three different resolutions: 100, 50, and 25 microns. The finer options dramatically increase print times, so we chose the lowest resolution (100 microns) in order to try as many prints as possible.

We ran prints of many sizes and durations; some filled the entire print volume and some ran well past 20 hours. The Form 1 never hiccupped. The parts were absolutely beautiful, the layers, even at the low setting, barely distinguishable.

SIP06-Form1-robots

We found the cleanup process a bit of work, as prints stuck really well to the platform and required considerable force to remove. Support structures printed under the default settings were also a bit harder to take off than seemed necessary. A small toolkit is bundled with the printer for this purpose, which is a nice touch.

All in all, Formlabs has created a modern marvel in its debut 3D printer — a thoroughly enjoyable user experience and fast, high-quality prints.

Primo features

  • Needs little maintenance, setup, or calibration
  • Software automatically generates support structures and clearly marks problem areas on models.

Who’s It For?

  • Designers
  • Architects
  • Professionals
  • Makers

Pro Tips

  • The auto-orient feature positions the model for optimal curing and works great. Use it!
  • Decrease the support structure’s “touch point diameter” for easier removal and fewer surface blemishes.
  • Decrease the base size; the default is thicker than needed.

Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014This review first appeared in MAKE’s Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014, page 92. Check out the full issue for more!

Related

Comments

  1. JT says:

    I ordered the Formlabs Form 1 Printer in June as a preorder. Then, the preorder page clearly stated that the printer would be delivered in August. As it neared August, the date was pushed back to September, and has recently been pushed back again to “any time between December and January”.

    Multiple emails, starting from polite inquiries and most recently asking for an immediate update in regards to shipping status have only resulted in replies boiling down to “please be patient”.

    I don’t believe that Makezine should be trying to review a printer that very few possible customers can purchase for themselves. If I was a less patient (and perhaps I’m just being stupid) person I would have asked for a full refund by now. Perhaps I should.

    1. Igor says:

      I did order it in July, and now I got Email stating that earliest date for shipping would be from January 15 to February 14, 2014. Go figure! Looks like the money I paid upfront is not the same value as others. I have ordered this printer for business purposes, just trusting this company and trying to support them but this situation is simply ridiculous. I sincerely hope that my patience won’t run thin before I will be able to get hold of the printer.

  2. cid says:

    . I ordered in January and still waiting. Almost a year, what a joke!
    According to their last email kickstarter orders are not fulfilled yet so I asume I will have to wait at least another month…

  3. Poita Ricardo says:

    Well, it is a kickstarter project, so I expected it would be ready around 12-18 months after I paid. These sort of lead times are to be expected, look at how many people paid in the initial round, it takes a long time to get through that many units. Kickstarter is what it is, it isn’t a department store.

  4. Eric says:

    I ordered in December… Guess what still waiting. Don’t get me started on their BS emails I have received. Starting to believe its a well played pyramid scheme. I’ve seen three on eBay already. I hope things get better with their new investors because it seems alot of the machines are returned not working properly and replaced with new ones. I am still rooting for their success but after nearly a year waiting my enthusiasm is dwindling.

  5. Robert says:

    I ended up and went with the b9 and glad I did.
    http://makezine.com/review/guide-to-3d-printing-2014/b9-creator/
    no waiting :)

    1. Poita Ricardo says:

      What do you do about the lack of auto-support generation?

      1. Robert says:

        I prefer placing supports manually as very few are needed and thier software makes it easy to do. download it and try it out its free b9creator.com

        1. Poita Ricardo says:

          Thanks, I’m downloading it now. The forums there are interesting, getting the detail needed for jewellery looks like quite a learning curve.

          1. Robert says:

            theres a learning curve for sure but once dialed in, it just works. Everytool takes some time to gain your skills.

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