New printer on the block (the FORM 1)
Startup company Formlabs has run a successful Kickstarter campaign (in 2.5 hours!) to fund development of a entry in the home/office 3D printer market. The FORM 1 3D printer is the first home 3D printer I’ve seen that uses a stereolithography process — that is, it uses an ultraviolet laser in a vat of resin to cure your part one layer at a time.
The Kickstarter is closed, but the price of the FORM 1 is expected to be slightly more than the Makerbot Replicator 2, i.e., somewhere in the $2500 range. The vertical resolution of the FORM 1, 25 microns, is better than Makerbot’s 100 microns; and the XY feature size (300 microns) is also slightly better (Makerbot’s nozzle diameter is 400 microns). So we’re looking at a slightly more expensive printer, with slightly higher resolution all around, but using a completely different process. (See our earlier comparison of Makerbot and Cubify).
The FORM 1 is expected to start shipping to Kickstarter participants in February. Personally, I’m not sure having a vat of expensive resin is better than having a spool of cheap filament, even if the resolution does come out a bit higher. But I’m sure of this: more options are better for us users. 3D printing is not only here to stay; it’s improving exponentially.