We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
When talking about an accessible 3D printers using SLA printing technology the name Formlabs often comes first in mind and the company has just introduced their new model – the Form 2. The new model comes with a 40% larger build volume, touch-screen controls, and Wi-Fi and Ethernet LAN connectivity allowing for even better desktop stereolithography 3D printing. The new model comes with new integrated resin system that automatically dispenses resin allowing for bigger prints, less mess, and longer tank life. A new peel mechanism and heated resin tank create a reliable print process for large, solid parts and intricate details. The new model comes with 50% more powerful laser in the form of a 250mW precision laser guided by custom-built galvanometers, delivering bigger prints with better detail.
The new model also comes with new resin cartridges that have RFID tags in order for the printer to track the exact level of resin left and properly use the auto refilling system. There however will be a special Open Mode that will allow you to print using 3rd party resins, but for these you will have to manually refill the tank with resin. The price of the new Formlabs Form 2 3D printer starts at €3299 Euro excluding VAT for Europe or $4199 USD for USA. The prices of the resins and additional accessories for the new Form 2 SLA 3D printer start at the same levels as the ones for the previous Form 1 and Form 1+ models.
Formlabs Form 2 Technical Specifications:
– Printer Dimensions: 35 × 33 × 52 cm / 13.5 × 13 × 20.5 in
– Printer Weight: 13 kg / 28.5 lbs
– Operating Temperature: Auto-heats to 35° C / Auto-heats to 95° F
– Power Requirements: 65 W, 100–240 V, 1.5 A 50/60 Hz
– Laser Specifications: 405nm violet laser, 250mW laser
– Connectivity: Wifi, Ethernet and USB
– Printer control: Interactive Touch-screen with Push-button
– Technology: Stereolithography (SLA)
– Peel Mechanism: Sliding Peel Process with wiper
– Resin Fill System: Automated
– Build Volume: 145 × 145 × 175 mm / 5.7 × 5.7 × 6.9 in
– Layer Thickness: 25, 50, 100, 200 microns / 0.001, 0.002, 0.004, 0.008 inches
– Laser Spot Size: 140 microns / 0.0055 inches
– Supports: Auto-Generated, Easily Removable
– Resin cartridges: 1L cartridges
When talking about affordable 3D printers we often mean device that use the most common FDM/FFF technology for extruding thermoplastic materials, a good start for a first 3D printer. Sooner or later you start thinking about upgrading to a better quality and then the next step is SLA or Stereolitography 3D printer, but when you reach to that point you will notice that there are actually not that many devices targeted at consumers that are affordable priced. This is however about to change with SLA technology getting more attention and available products and one such upcoming product is the Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer from XYZPrinting that should be available for $1499 USD. We have already mentioned the company with their affordable da Vinci 3D printers.
The XYZPrinting Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer uses liquid resin material that is being solidified by a laser resulting in the 3D printed model that you want to make. The Stereolitogaphy technology allows for achieving higher detail levels and the printed parts do have different mechanical properties than what the commonly used ABS and PLA thermoplastics used by FFF/FDM 3D printers. The Nobel 1.0 as well as with many other more affordable SLA 3D printers is that they have a more limited build volume, here it is 128x128x200 mm. So do not expect to be able to print very large objects with this device, though the build volume is not that small and you can also split larger models in smaller parts that will be joined after the printing. One interesting thing about the Nobel 1.0 3D printer is that it comes with an auto refill system that will automatically keep the liquid resin level in the printer’s tank by adding more when needed, so no need to monitor the level and manually pour additional resin.
XYZPrinting Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D Printer Specifications
– Print Technique: SL (Stereolithography Apparatus)
– Dimension: 11″ x 13.2″ x 23.2″ (280 x 337 x 590 mm)
– Weight: 21.2 lbs (9.6 KG)
– Maximum creation size (WxDxH): 5″ x 5″ x 7.9″ (128 x 128 x 200 mm)
– Layer Thickness: X/Y Axis Resolution: 0.3mm (300 Microns), Z Axis: 0.025mm (25 Microns), 0.05mm (50 Microns), 0.1mm(100 Microns)
– Display: 2.6″ FSTN LCM
– Connectivity: USB wire, USB Stick
– Material Properties: Photopolymer Resin
– Software: File Type .stl, XYZ format (.3w)
– Operating System: Windows 7+ (for PC), Mac OX 10.8, 10.9 (for Mac)
The Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer is already listed on the XYZPrinting website, but is not yet available to order. Another thing that is important regarding the device is the availability and price of the liquid resin (photopolymer) that the printer uses for building the 3D printed parts from. This material is also more expensive than thermoplastic filaments, so it is important for an affordable SLA-based 3D printer to also come with a good price and wide availability of liquid resin materials to use along with it. These are however still not officially announced and there is also no pricing information about the resin used by the Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer yet, though the device will most likely be also compatible with resins for other similar devices as well.
The 3D printers using FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) also known as FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) is the most affordable technology for 3D printing at the moment, but the extrusion of thermoplastic material does have its limitations as well as some advantages. The most significant disadvantage that makes some people start looking to make the next step is the level of detail that the FDM/FFF printers offer, so the next step is normally to go for a 3D printer using Stereolithography (SLA) – a 3D printing technology used for producing 3D models layer by layer by curing a photo-reactive resin with a DLP or UV laser. You should be aware of the fact that the SLA 3D printing hardware is more expensive and also the resin used for building the 3D printed models is also more expensive than what you are using with an FDM/FFF 3D printer. The detail level and durability of the printed materials is usually significantly higher, but the materials you can choose from as not as much as you have in the form of various thermoplastic that can be extruded with an FDM/FFF 3D printer.
If you have decided to move from an FDM/FFF 3D printer to an SLA 3D printer, or just get another 3D printer to extend your creative options, then your first step should probably be to check out the FormLabs Form 1+. It is a pretty affordable 3D printer using stereolithography technology to build 3D models with a layer resolution of up to 25 microns – 0.025 mm or 4 times better than what the usual best layer height offered by most plastic extrusion 3D printers. The drawback that the Form 1+ printer has is that the printable object size is smaller than what most FDM/FFF 3D printers offer even the most basic ones, so you will not be able to print very big models, unless of course you break them down to segments. The build volume you have available with the Form 1+ 3D printer is 125×125×165 mm and the printer does use support material where needed that is automatically generated and should be easily removable when the print is ready. One thing that people used to print with on plastic extrusion 3D printers – the leveling of the build plate is not needed, meaning less problems with unusable prints. The Form 1+ complete package will cost you $3299 USD and 1 liter of resin used by the printer is being sold of $149 USD. We are already considering getting a Form 1+ 3D printer for next year to accompany our MakerBot Replicator 2 FDM 3D printer in order to be able to start experimenting with SLA 3D printing.