This month, Formlabs started shipping the eagerly awaited Form 3L and announced the launch of the biocompatible version, the Form 3BL. Both printers are designed to open up large-format SLA 3D printing at an accessible price in all industries.
“Large-format SLA is something that everybody has been thinking about, but so far, you don’t see a lot of products out there,” says Stefan Hollaender, Managing Director of Formlabs EMEA. “Most of our customers have always questioned, why do I have to outsource it to an office or service bureau, and send files to get printed materials back? After the Form 3, the next step for us was not only to achieve the highest part quality but to increase the print size, so now the build volume is five times bigger than it was before.”
Stereolithography 3D printers use a laser and mirrors to cure liquid resin onto a build platform. Low Force Stereolithography (LFS) is a Formlabs innovation that utilises a flexible resin tank, which bows gradually as the part is lowered, reducing the pressure on parts and allowing for light-touch support structure.
The Form 3L and Form 3BL also utilise a Light Processing Unit (LPU) which directs a laser beam directly through the optic system, passing through a spatial filter before reaching the platform. This is called linear illumination.
The result is a reliable, consistent, and professional-quality 3D printing experience that goes way beyond what regular SLA can achieve.
Form 3L and Form 3BL
The Form 3L and new Form 3BL feature a build volume of 33.5 × 20 × 30 cm (13.2 x 7.9 x 11.8 inches) and they have two lasers. The smaller Form 3, released last year, has one laser because it has a much smaller build volume.
Both printers also share these common specifications:
- Material support: All Formlabs resins (3BL also prints biocompatible resins)
- XY Layer resolution: 25 – 300 microns
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and USB
- Interface: 5.5-inch touchscreen with a 1280 × 720 resolution
The key difference between the Form 3L and the Form 3BL is the Form 3BL is designed for dental and medical applications that demand biocompatibility. Formlabs has a series of biocompatible resins for these applications, including Surgical Guide Resin and Dental LT Clear Resin. It’s important to note that only the Form 3BL can print these.
Some of the applications for the Form 3BL include:
- Crown and bridge models
- Clear aligner and retainer models
- Diagnostic models
- Surgical guides
- Occlusal splints
- Patterns for casting and pressing
The Form 3L is a more general-purpose machine. It can print all Formlabs materials except biocompatible resins.
3D printing at a larger scale
The large build volumes of the Form 3L and Form 3BL enable larger production runs. In-house small series production has long been one of the advantages of 3D printing and the larger build volumes enable this at a bigger scale.
The large build volumes also mean bigger models and parts can be made. There is now no need to make smaller parts that fit together. You can print large parts and models as single pieces, rather than several smaller pieces.
The Form 3BL and Form 3L are also both designed to run 24/7 without supervision. You can press print and leave them to do their jobs.
To ensure maximum uptime, with the 3BL the LPUs are user-replaceable, as is the optics window. The resin tank can also be swapped out in less than 10 seconds, allowing you to switch between materials quickly.
Formlabs has developed a fool proof dedicated software for their 3D printers. PreForm offers one-click print, adaptive layer thickness for faster printing with fine details, remote print, auto-orient for optimal print position, auto-mesh repair, auto supports and more. This makes 3D printing easier and more accessible to professionals.