It might be tempting to label Formlabs as the pesky startup that just wouldn’t go away, but that would be doing a disservice to the innovation and drive demonstrated by the company. Formlabs has weathered Kickstarter campaigns, lawsuits and growing pains. It has become something of the fair-haired child of the additive manufacturing (AM) community, and even starred in a movie.
The launch of the Form 1 introduced the concept of desktop stereolithography (SLA) and other companies were quick to follow its lead. It’s easy to imitate, but much harder to innovate. Now, Formlabs is attempting to redefine desktop SLA systems with the launch of the Form 2.
So what has changed? The Form 2 is slightly larger than its progenitor, with a 5.7 × 5.7 × 6.9 in (145 × 145 × 175 mm) build envelope. It offers the same layer thickness as the Form 1 at 25, 50, 100, 200 microns, but offers finer details thanks to its 250mW laser, which is an improvement over the original 120mW laser.
Some of the changes are quality of life improvement for Formlabs users. Material use has been simplified with the addition of resin cartridges and a sensor system that automatically adds more material when the tank gets low. Not only should the cartridge system make filling the Form 2 easier, it might also result in material savings with fewer chances of spills.
The Form 2 includes a new peel mechanism feature that is meant to improve the quality of prints. Used in combination with the heated tank, the new system has a resin wiper which can, “Improve print consistency by removing any particulates from the build area, properly agitating the resin,” according to the company. In essence, the system automatically stirs the pot and keeps it warm during the build in an effort to reduce build errors.
None of the desktop systems produced by Formlabs have been what might be considered inexpensive by hobbyists, but this isn’t a desktop system you can reproduce with Lego and an extruder head. The Form 2 is priced at $3,499, which is still one of the lowest prices you’ll find for a desktop SLA system. Formlabs hasn’t forgotten its roots and has special offers for those who backed it on Kickstarter, and more recent customers who purchased the Form 1+.
From the company: “To thank our existing Form 1 & Form 1+ customers, we would like to offer special pricing on a Form 2. We are excited to offer Form 1/1+ owners $400 off, and for our original Kickstarter backers we would like to offer $600 off the price of a new Form 2. (Offer expires 12/31/2015).”
Below you’ll find a video introducing the Form 2.