MIT spinoff spiffs up desktop 3-D printing with Form 1

Up to now, says a new company planning a price/quality upset in the 3-D printing market, people have been able to get affordable, low-end 3-D desktop printers but below the higher quality standards that professional designers seek. The company, Formlabs, says outright that "There are no low-cost 3D printers that meet the quality standards of the professional designer." They have an alternative to expensive but advanced stereolithography devices, They have developed the Form 1, a desktop-sized machine that will be made available at a lower price point but will offer a high-resolution resin system that can produce professional-grade 3-D prints.

The creators have achieved features and capabilities that professionals would require. Their process can handle translucent parts and complex geometries. The build envelope volume, according to their specs, is 4.9 by 4.9 by 6.5. Creators who want something bigger can print multiple segments of a larger structure, allowing them to print as big as needed.

Formlabs, spun off last year from the MIT Media Lab, is a company led by a team of engineers and designers, David Cranor, Maxim Lobovsky, and Natan Linder. They have already attracted seed funding and are now going after Kickstarter for donations to launch into manufacturing phase.

Their key pitch is that, for rapid prototyping, 3-D printing capabilities are now in the form factor of a desktop printer, and at a lower cost. Using the printers, designers will be able to produce high quality presentation models that are suitable, for example, for small runs of production parts, or for models with enough detail for jewelry casting.

Formlabs has produced all the elements of a 3-D printing system—hardware, software, and resins. For hardware, a translucent orange box is on the top of the machine, to protect the acrylate photopolymer resin inside from UV rays, and designers can see their products being built in real time. The company's proprietary desktop software is custom-designed for the stereolithography process.

Where the project now stands: The team has reached a stage where they have fully functional prototype units. They said they have built and tested seven generations of prototypes, and they tested a production run of alpha units. Now, they say, they are prepared to set up full-scale manufacturing. They hope to get the manufacturing financing from their new Kickstarter campaign.

Initial backers can pre-order Form 1, at the time of this writing, for under $3,000. As for the company's retail price, the answer is that they have not yet set an ongoing price. "Our Kickstarter supporters are definitely receiving special treatment for believing in what we do," they said.

Comments

Get it under $1K and we will talk.

Currently, I cannot really imagine too many home practical applications within the current system with this technology because the monetary costs of raw materials needed for material replication would probably be relatively high.
And to top it off, it probably cannot make nearly anything.
Imagine if I wanted to print a computer system in parts... or perhaps highly efficient solar panels.
It probably wouldn't really allow me to do either - unless one would be able to hack into the system (which is likely possible) and modify it to create these things (for which you'd need an actual schematic and everything else such as material composition, density, etc...) - and of course, you'd need proper raw materials (Which begs the question WHICH raw materials can the unit accommodate, and would ones needed for fabrication of more electronic oriented components be readily available to consumers).

I CAN see a potential for electronics fabrication process given how small it can go (for industries that is).
It also could be used for relatively general stuff at home, but within the monetary system, I think its 'consumer application' uses will probably be severely limited.

But... if you are crafty at working with those fabrication materials in the first place and would know how to create a specific hardware, then creating efficient technologies would be possible at home, I just don't know if methods will be taken to prevent this sort of thing... or at least limited as much as possible.

"(Which begs the question WHICH raw materials...)"

You mean "raises the question".

Technology are increasing at a very rapid rate for which there is the innovation of different gadgets are being found out. The best development is seen in case of printing world. Such as the innovation of 3d printing. It has completely revolutionized the entire world. Different companies have changed the world and entire techniques being used in the printing.