At $3,299, the Form 1 could expand the market for 3-D printing technology. It can produce much higher-fidelity plastic objects than the consumer desktop printers available today. But it is still cheap enough to be affordable to a wide swath of professional designers, engineers, and dedicated tinkerers. The Form 1 can, for example, create detailed functioning prototypes with mechanical parts, such as precise screw threads.
Formlabs new device can print layers as thin as 25 microns and can produce objects at half the scale of typical consumer desktop printers, which function more like automated hot-glue guns. Such machines often don’t produce the level of detail necessary for the professional prototyping functions that 3-D printing is often touted to fulfill.
They are selling the clear resin for sale for $149 per liter.
Formlabs uses off-the-shelf lasers and takes advantage of software advances and cheap computing components for the print engine, the company can sell the printer for tens of thousands of dollars less than similar-quality printers already on the market.
Linder says his company is focused on expanding the market for the technology among professionals. He notes that there are 10 million people who use computer-aided design software, many of whom make 3-D models, and yet only tens of thousands of professional-grade 3-D printers have been sold.
In addition to prototyping and design, he says, there could be some limited manufacturing uses for the printer, such as making custom structures that require detail, like jewelry or mock body parts for doctors in training.
Formlabs is in the middle of a court fight with 3-D Systems, which has accused it of patent infringement. Formlabs says that at least some of the patents have expired.
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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