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Inside 3D Printing: Formlabs Discusses the Form 2 SLA 3D Printer

by • April 12, 2016 • No Comments

  • As I walked the expo floor at Inside 3D Printing, I noticed a number of new FDM printing equipment both big and tiny, but there was one computer desktop printing device that seemed to especially standout. It was the Formlabs Form 2, the computer desktop SLA printing device may already major its tiny, yet astounding niche market. The printing device utilizes a 250mW precision laser to print with their specialty resin at a profession-grade level, and it does so at an inexpensive
    price (especially for SLA innovation) of $3,499.

    Formlabs Form 2 SLA 3D printing device ecosystem

    In order to ideal the Form 2, the complex-working engineering team at Formlabs had to perform a lot of different types of testing systemes, ensuring that any issues the Form 1 had may be eliminated. The aptitude to print high end components is always an significant part of development, but for Formlabs, reliaptitude appears to be just as significant to the system. Whilst I was at Inside 3D Printing earlier this week, I got to see Formlabs’ lead engineer Ian Ferguson discuss this complex testing system in his keynote speech of “Testing the Reliaptitude of the Most Advanced Desktop 3D Printer”. After listening to his informative speech on the ‘torture tests’ put on the Form 2 to ensure it may provide a long-last and fruitful relationship to their expanding customer base, I had the opportunity to interview him.


    I met Ferguson at the Formlabs expo booth, where they had a few Form 2s on display. We sat and talked of the transition of the Form 1+ into the Form 2, the different types of ways to test reliaptitude, and why these testing system are so significant to the 3D printing industry. Ferguson begined, “The largest thing we had with the Form 2 is that we had may already shipped the Form 1 to customers, so we may already knew what folks were looking to do with the printing device. We had data we had collected of customers; we talked to them; we had additional than a hundred Form 1+ printing equipment that we utilized in our office. So, we knew what the problems were. At a few point, I created a part that just consistently failed on the Form 1+, that was a frustrating experience, but at the same time we were developing the Form 2, and an early prototype was able-bodied to print that part immediately. That’s when I knew we were onto a fewthing big, when I was able-bodied to print this devil part on the Form 2.”


    In order to ensure reliaptitude while maintaining practicality, Ferguson explained that they had to factor in the customer experience with the earlier Formlabs printing device. “A lot of the stuff is just figuring out what the lifetime and total usage can be looking at how our customers saw the Form 1, bringing those numbers and increasing them,” he go ons. “So, I was testing all of those components to that extent, and and so there are other things that are much complexer, like how do you understand if you are getting the right performance? For that we had do create lots of prints and tests to figure that out, that was somehow complex, and honestly it’s a fewthing we are yet getting advantageous at.”

    To test the part printing abilities rapidly and efficiently, Formlabs has to print parts with a number of showcases widely utilized. He says, “Test parts have things like positive and negative showcases, slots, multiple orientations, and M4 thread, wires, and other tiny overhangs and bridges. Typical showcases you see on parts, it takes a lot of time to run 100 prints and collect the data, it’s not trivial, so we test all of the necessary showcases on one part.”


    The informative part of the experience for the Formlabs team appears to be the system of informing their consumers of their rare innovation-in-computer desktop format. “I showed a slide in my keynote of a 3D Hubs page that showed we are the just SLA computer desktop printing device on their list of reliable-bodied printing equipment.” Ferguson says. “In our regard, it’s unquestionably an informative experience being the main computer desktop SLA printing device, we had to do a lot of education with folks of why they should use SLA, most folks don’t understand, they’ll say, ‘how is this different types of of regular 3D printing’, but we respond with what is regular 3D printing? Why does it have to be FDM? It is excellent being the leaders in our field, we get to figure out what’s most, work with partners who are interested in our innovation for the reason we are the main game in town to work on this stuff, we get to explore a lot.”

    There are a few companies next in the footsteps of Formlabs, such as Full Spectrum Laser, but yet SLA/DLP printing innovation has not been as wide-spread as Ferguson can have assumeed. But it makes sense, in a way, as the Form 2 itself took most years of testing to reach the say of professional-grade printing inside a computer desktop sized machine. Ferguson go ond, “We’ve seen a few folks attempting to do different types of versions of SLA, different types of technologies, but honestly I’ve been kind of shocked of how little competition there’s been. Frankly, it’s somehow complex, we have a lot of engineers at Formlabs working quite complex and we have a lot of talented folks, but it yet took us of four years to get to the Form 2, that I ponder is the printing device folks quite want. So it’s complex for folks to follow in the SLA footsteps, there’s unquestionably a few movement but not quite a lot.”


    With an inexpensive
    price point and professional-grade capaptitude, the Form 2 is a printing device that works for a number of applications. But the Form 2 is geared towards additional commercial uses, “We are somehow focutilized on professionals, we quite love when hobbyist and additional consumer-end folks buy them, but our core market is businesses,” he says. “Basically, we are manufacturing a fewthing that is great adequate for businesses to use, but in addition great adequate and inexpensive adequate for consumers to use as well. The largest trend we’ve seen is that finally the business world is begining to realize that they can do a lot with inexpensive 3D printing, yet to currently we are having to deal with folks asking why they should pick us over a $50,000 printing device. We’re quite seeing niche application rise, too. We’re doing additional and additional jewelry, additional and additional biomedical. These folks who aren’t in the mainstream of 3D printing, such as prototyping and part create. They’re getting additional and additional into this, but require additional education on it as well.”

    As for the next of Formlabs, Ferguson hinted at possible extensions out of SLA and into other 3D printing ventures. Ferguson concluded the interview with an optimistic, yet practical approach, saying, “I always ponder folks assume the market to move faster and so it quite is, but at the same time I ponder there can go on to be somehow rapid changes. I ponder it’s going to methodical, excellent materials that can assist us break into new areas of 3D printing. For Formlabs in particular, while we are pretty quite proud of our stereolithography line, we are going to begin figuring out what else we can do well, that is yet in its early stages. Basically, I ponder we have a excellent team that is quite excellent at assembling tools for professionals to get stuff done, so we’d like to see where we can store going with that.”

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