The Form 2 brings with it a 40% bigger print volume than the Formlabs Form 1+ and a more powerful laser, and for the first time, an advanced cartridge system. It also has a touch-screen and one-touch printing capabilities with W-Fi connectivity.
It’s tough to think of a way that Formlabs could improve upon the brilliant Form 1+, but you needn’t rack your brains any longer, because Formlabs has finally launched the follow up to their original (and class-leading) stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer in the name of the Form 2.
Think bigger and better and you’re halfway there to realising just how big a leap forward the Form 2 really is.
So what’s new?
First of all, the Form 2 has a larger build volume than the 1+ and a better laser:
If you had your eye on a Form 1+ but held back because you require a printer that can print bigger models, the Form 2 addresses this.
The Form 2 has a whopping build volume of 145 × 145 × 175 mm (5.7 × 5.7 × 6.9 in) compared to the Form 1+’s 125 × 125 × 165 mm (4.9 × 4.9 × 6.5 in) build volume and that means it is 40% bigger, which is a significant leap forward. And perhaps most importantly of all, the increase in build size doesn’t translate to too much extra bulk. The Form 2 is still very much a desktop-friendly 3D printer.
In addition to a larger build volume, the Form 2 also has a 250mW laser that’s 130mW more powerful than the Form 1+’s. This allows the Form 2 to print highly detailed parts, with a layer thickness of 25-200 microns.
Secondly, the Form 2 has an all-new print process:
Like the 1+, the Form 2 uses a high precision optical system to direct a laser across a tank of liquid resin, but unlike the Form 1+, it does so with the addition of a sliding peel mechanism, a heated resin tank and a resin wiper – features that are all new to the Form range.
The result is the ability to print larger objects with lower peel forces, reduced wear on the resin tank and better consistency. And crucially, the resin tank is heated and it maintains a constant temperature of 35 °C, so optimal print conditions are always realised.
Thirdly, the Form 2 has an automated resin system:
The Form 2 will automatically fill the resin tray with new resin mid-print thanks to level sensing. This feature eliminates the messy work of refilling the resin tank and it greatly reduces the risk of the resin coming into contact with external light. This is achieved by a new product, the resin cartridge, which is an innovative product that has its very own chip which communicates with the printer; the printer effectively tells the cartridge that it’s running low, and the cartridge responds by refilling the tank on its own.
Users will also be pleased to learn that the Form 2 has an open mode, so you aren’t tied into just using Formlabs resins.
Lastly, the Form 2 can connect to a network by Ethernet or Wi-Fi:
The most obvious feature that was missing from the Form 1+ was the ability for it to connect to a network – users were stuck with USB (which at its best, is an ageing technology).
Thankfully, Formlabs have addressed this with the Form 2. The new model boasts the ability to connect to a network by Wi-Fi or Ethernet, allowing you to easily send prints over Wi-Fi, reprint previous jobs and manage your print queue. And if you must use USB, that’s still there too.
And you will do all of this on the colour touch-screen display with push-button control, another feature that the Formlabs Form 1+ lacks.
– 250mW laser (130mW more powerful than the 1+);
– Layer resolution of 25-200 microns;
– Self-heating resin tank;
– Automated resin refilling;
– Sliding peel mechanism;
– Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB connectivity;
– Interactive touch-screen with push-button control;
– Protected optical path;
– 145 × 145 × 175 mm (5.7 × 5.7 × 6.9 in) build volume.
Our early impressions of the Form 2 are favourable – it really is hard not to get excited about the Form 2 and the wonderful parts it can no doubt print. It looks to be a worthy replacement for the Form 1+, which is still a very good choice of stereolithography printer in our opinion.
The Form 2 has a bigger build volume and awesome new features, and as a result, the Formlabs Form 2 is the desktop SLA printer to have in 2015/16. And when you factor in the amazing ecosystem that Formlabs’ products have, it’s hard to recommend any other premium desktop 3D printer over this one.
Stay tuned for pricing and availability from GoPrint3D.