Formlabs updates its high-res desktop 3D printer for faster speed

The new Form 1+ 3D printers laser is four times more powerful that its predecessor

Formlabs announced an overhaul of its desktop stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer that delivers four times the laser power and a 50 per cent improvement in print time performance compared to its predecessor.

The 3D printer company also unveiled a new black printing resin. It joins white, clear and gray resins, which were already available.

"Our black resin captures details amazingly well, and has a beautiful finish and rich color. We're excited to see what people will make," Michal Firstenberg, a Formlabs Materials Scientist, said in a statement. The resin is available from formlabs.com for $149 per liter.

The new Formlabs Form 1+ SLA desktop printer and accessories (sans laptop). (Image: Formlabs).

The new Form 1+ 3D printer's price remains the same as the Form 1. $3,299. It's available directly from formlabs.com.

Unlike other forms of 3D printing, which either melt and extrude layers of thermoplastic filament or fuse together layers of metal or polymer powder, SLA printing uses lasers to sketch out an object in a pool of photosensitive liquid. Each time the laser finishes a pass over the liquid, it hardens it and the object is extracted layer-by-layer until the process is complete.

Because SLA machines start with liquid instead of hard filaments or powders, the resolution of the printed object is finer, meaning the surface of the object is smooth and there are virtually no discernable ridges.

The Form 1+ 3D printer also has a redesigned galvanometer control system, which allows the laser to be moved in finer increments. That allows it to produce models with greater detail and a smoother surface finish, the company said.

The Form 1+ SLA printer finishes printing a sphere. As it is printed, it's extracted upwards from the photosensitive resin pool. (Image: Formlabs).

An all-new light-blocking injection-molded resin tank allows the unused photosensitive liquid to be stored outside of the printer.

"The Form 1+ incorporates everything that we've learned in the past year," said Ian Ferguson, Formlab's lead engineer. "We've given every part of the machine another look, updating it for better performance and reliability: a new laser, a new control system and upgraded precision and quality for dozens of components."

Owners of the original Form 1 3D printer will be allowed to get a factory upgrade that will bring their printer to Form 1+ specifications and get a new 1-year warranty. The Form 1+ Upgrade is available from Formlabs for $749.

Improvements to Formlab's Form 1 3D printer will allow users to 3D print with increased ease, precision and speed, the company said.

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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