FORM 1 – HD 3D printing for cheap
FORM 1 – simple and accurate
A team of graduate students from MIT created what it hope will be the next big thing in 3D printing, bringing super high resolution rapid prototyping to a price point far lower than anything currently in existence.
FORM 1 – a crowed funded project on Kickstarter for developing a unique accurate and relatively inexpensive 3D printer has only been up for a few days now and it already raised over 1.25 million dollars from almost 900 backers.
FORM 1 was developed by three graduate students from MIT – Maxim Lobovsky, David Cranor, and Natan Linder who meet in MIT media Lab back in 2009. Two years they founded Formlabs in order to develop their revolutionary 3D printer. They were able to raise initial seed financing from Mitch Kapor, Joi Ito, and Eric Schmidt in order to build the first prototypes of the Form 1.
FORM 1 uses a method called stereolithography (SL for short) which is an optical fabrication method. The method is an additive manufacturing process which creates a 3D model by using pulses of laser on a special polymer known as “resin”. The exposure to the laser light cures and solidifies the specific 3D pattern the computer model dictates on the resin and connects it to the layer below – repeating this step time after time creates the full 3D model designed on the computer in real life.
So far SL fabrication machines have been extremely expensive – starting from tens of thousands of dollars and up to hundreds of thousands. The special resin is also expensive costing (in most cases) hundreds of dollars per liter. Formlabs decided to change all that by developing FORM 1 which currently cost less than $3000 with special resin costing about 130 dollars per liter. This drastic cost reduction was achieved by replacing the costly laser system in the existing SL machines with a $10 laser developed by Sony for Blu-ray players.The FORM 1 kickstarter video
FORM 1 is extremely accurate. According to its developers it reaches a level close to the current upper limit of 3D printing technology. It is capable of printing layers as thin as 25 microns (.001 inches) with details as small as 300 microns (.012 inches) in a build volume of 4.9 x 4.9 x 6.5 inches (125 x 125 x 165mm).Video from the Maker Faire showing a Form 1 print in action
TFOT covered the 3D printing world before. In 2011 we published The Future of 3D Printing
where we looked at several innovative 3D companies.