The first time you hold a physical 3D print in your hand is a magical moment. You realise that all the hype is real, that you can create detailed, retail-grade models and parts without the complexities of a production line or outsourcing. For many people who live and breathe their work, this is a light bulb moment.
If you’re interested in 3D printing, we recommend handling a part or two before you go ahead and invest. To facilitate this, we’ve created a FREE SAMPLE PAGE where you can order a 3D printed sample. This is provided in partnership with Formlabs.
Choose from the following models:
- Millifluidics Model printed in Clear Resin
- Rotating Arm printed in Grey Resin
- Architectural Model printed in White Resin
- Pipe Coupling printed in Draft Resin
- Pen Model printed in Black Resin
Formlabs makes SLA (stereolithography) 3D printers. SLA is an exciting process that sees a laser beam reflected off finely calibrated mirrors, then through a transparent window and into a tank of resin. The process is incredible. Here’s a video:
As you can see, it appears as though the part is being pulled from liquid!
The way this works is the build platform is lowered into the tank leaving just one layer of resin between the platform and the bottom of the tank. The resin then undergoes a chemical reaction and solidifies in the places the laser has hit.
The tank then moves to peel away the solidified layer and so fresh resin can flow underneath it. The process is repeated until the final model is built.
The potential applications for SLA are enormous in their own right. SLA enables far greater detail to be captured than FFF 3D printers in many applications and because the process is not limited by an extruder or mechanical motion, you can use geometries and shapes in your designs that would be impossible with an extruder-based machine.
Formlabs has also improved on SLA with the introduction of LFS (Low Force Stereolithography) which addresses the biggest challenge inverted stereolithography brings to desktop-size 3D printing – the significant forces exerted on parts during printing. These forces are so powerful that support structure can be difficult to remove.
With LFS, supports can be snapped away easily.
Here’s what we mean:
It also increases print reliability and the repeatability of parts. You can think of LFS as stereolithography on steroids. It’s a better-performing version of the technology designers know and love.
LFS is now used across the Formlabs’ 3D printer range. Their range includes the Form 3 (read our guide here), the Form 3L (read our guide here) and the Form 3B (read our guide here).