I’m a long time user of 3D printing and spend most days at work dealing with all aspects of digital fabrication from laser cutting , to CNC, to 3D printers, so when I noticed that FormLabs had announced a new SLA (Resin) printer I thought, why not blog it! Some of the first 3D prints I did around 10 years ago as part of a research paper on digitising the complex form where UV cured resin prints. The technology was complex, convoluted and very expensive but the results where stunning. For the last couple of years I’ve been using the Formlabs Form2 SLA printer, a really reliable machine that has produced a lot models with a very good success rate. We do have issues with it registering that a new cartridge / tray has been inserted which is annoying but that’s another conversation. The new offering looks like a really good update to the almost 4 year old Form 2 and comes in two sizes now; the Form3 and the Form3L. The Form3 (starting at $3,499USD) has pretty much the same build size as the form2 (14.5cm x 14.5cm) with a slight increase in build height (18.5cm vs 17.5cm).
Now this isn’t a massive build size compared to most FDM 3D printers however you don’t really want to print large objects in resin as it gets a bit expensive, but if that’s not an issue for you, enter the $10K USD Form3L with a massive build size of 33.5cm × 20cm, and 30cm of height!
Formlabs have also introduced an interesting twist to the way the printer operates called Low Force Stereolithography (LFS)™. The older Formlabs printers would use UV light projected through a glass plate into a tank of resin to cure a thin layer (<0.1mm) on the build plate/previous layer then physically move the plate up and across to separate the new layer from the glass plate. It would then use a mechanical arm to move resin in the tank and then lower the build plate for the next layer. The new LFS technique has a flexible film instead of a glass plate on the bottom of the resin tank that flexes as the UV laser cures the resin separating the freshly cured layer from the base as it moves resulting in a faster print time.
Availability: The Form3 can be ordered in the US and Formlabs are taking preorders for the 3L however at the time of writing neither are an option in Australia/NZ. I have been informed that it’s expected to ship in AUS/NZ towards the end of the year. Pricing hasn’t been confirmed for AUS/NZ either however I’ll post an update here when any of this changes.