About this project
Thanks for an amazing Kickstarter campaign! The next chapter of 3D printing is just beginning.
Pre-order your Form 1 at Formlabs.com
Read about the Form 1 on:
Are you frustrated that low-end 3D printers don’t have the quality to make the true beauty of your designs real? Do you dream of having the power and resolution of a truly professional machine on your desktop? We’ve created an easy-to-use system that rivals the output of high-end printers at a fraction of the cost.
Formlabs is disrupting 3D printing.
Our reason for starting this project is simple: there are no low-cost 3D printers that meet the quality standards of the professional designer. As researchers at the MIT Media Lab, we were lucky to experience the best and most expensive fabrication equipment in the world. But, we became frustrated by the fact that all the professional-quality 3D printers were ridiculously expensive (read: tens of thousands of dollars) and were so complex to use. In 2011, we decided to build a solution to this problem ourselves, and we are now ready to share it with the world.
High resolution belongs on your desktop.
We’ve been hard at work for over a year, and with your help, we’re ready to take the Form 1 into full-fledged production. By supporting this effort, you’ll be the first to get your hands on an amazing 3D printer AND help usher in a new era of 3D printing - an era in which your creative output is no longer limited by price or dauntingly complex machines.
The Form 1 will change creative design.
We’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to design a complete 3D printing experience:
- The Form 1 printer is engineered to produce high resolution parts with the touch of a button
- Form software is intuitive and simple to use so you can spend less time setting up prints and more time designing
- The Form Finish post-processing kit keeps your desktop organized so that you can easily put the finishing touches on your masterpiece
Read on for more details on what you’ll help bring into the world (and onto your desktop) if you support this effort.
Hardware - The Form 1:
For most designers, the extruded plastic (i.e. FDM) of low-end printers is simply not capable of the high resolution and quality surface finish necessary for professional work. So, we decided to go straight for the real deal: a stereolithography printer we call the Form 1.
Stereolithography (SL) is the gold standard for accuracy and resolution in the 3D printing world, reaching layer thicknesses and feature sizes that are worlds ahead of what is possible with FDM. The process is pretty straightforward - a laser is used to draw on the surface of a liquid plastic resin that hardens when exposed to a certain wavelength of light. The laser draws and hardens a layer at a time until the entire model is built. It’s simple, reliable, and quiet.
Unfortunately, SL is traditionally one of the most expensive 3D printing processes. With pricey lasers and high-precision optical components, SL 3D printers can easily cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Until now. Check out these pictures of parts made with the Form 1 as compared to a currently available FDM printer:
After a great deal of research, engineering, and experimentation, we’ve figured out how to do it at a much, much lower cost, making this premium technology available to everyone.
The results are amazing: the Form 1 can print layers as thin as 25 microns (0.001 in) with features as small as 300 microns (0.012 in) in a build volume of 125 x 125 x 165 mm (4.9 x 4.9 x 6.5 in). This means you can print complex geometries with the exquisite details and beautiful surface finish that will make your creations stand out.
Form print software:
Great hardware is only half the battle. We painstakingly designed our Form software to have a simple, intuitive user experience that streamlines the process of importing .STL models from any 3D CAD package. Generating smart support structures for complex geometries and sending jobs to the printer is as easy as a few clicks.
A key advantage of the Form software is the ability to precisely generate thin, breakable support structures that serve their purpose during printing but are easily removed afterward. Test users have delightfully compared this part removal to a feeling almost like separating Velcro. You can finally print those designs with crazy overhangs!
When the Form 1 is released, it will come with our first material - a neutral matte gray that is great for look-and-feel models, standalone parts, or even as a base color for painting.
After a successful launch (thanks to your support!), we will continue development of an entire palette of materials for your printer. A variety of colors, transparency, flexibility, and even burnout capability for lost wax casting processes are all possible with SL.
Accessories - Form Finish kit:
With any 3D printing process, there are key finishing steps to get your print into its final and ready-to-use form. With SL, each part comes out of the printer with a small amount of liquid resin on its surface.
We’ve designed the Form Finish kit - a finishing tray and accessories set to assist you and keep your workspace clean and organized during this process.
After printing, all you need to do is remove the build platform from the printer, set it into the tray, snap the model off its supports, and use the rinsing basket to clean the print for final use. Check out our website for step by step photos!
We are ready for full production with your support.
So where are we in this whole process? We’ve:
- Formed an awesome team in Boston, Montreal, and London
- Engineered the system to be mass-manufactured
- Built and tested 7 generations of prototypes
- Tested a wide range of material formulations
- Written and optimized thousands of lines of code
- Tested a production run of alpha units
We’re nearly ready to set up full-scale manufacturing to get your Form 1 delivered as soon as possible. We take this last crucial step seriously, and we’ll need a lot of support to do the job right. That’s why we’ve turned to Kickstarter to get the production lines up and running!
If you decide to pitch in, you’ll get a discount and be one of the first to have our product on your desktop. But more importantly, you’ll play a huge part in starting this revolution in 3D printing by providing your feedback and creating amazing things with the Form 1. We can’t wait to see what you can design!
What do the Gyrocube and T-Shirt rewards look like?
They look like this:
Special thanks to:
Charlie the formlab[rador]
Risks and challenges
Similar to many Kickstarter projects, we face several key risks and challenges in sparking this revolution in 3D printing. The primary risks for us include:
To achieve the level of simplicity in user experience that we have, we have to design and engineer a very complex system. We have taken two key steps to ensure our engineering success. 1) We have formed an amazing team of engineers and designers, and 2) we test our printers with an obsession for perfection. In the last year, we have built 7 generations of prototypes, a production run of alpha machines, we will have a run of beta machines with significant user testing, and we keep enormous amounts of data to guide our future work.
SUPPLY CHAIN AND LOGISTICS
Many Kickstarter campaigns can encounter problems when taking their prototypes to production. This includes issues finding suppliers and engineering products for mass-production. Smooth execution is absolutely essential to overcoming such risks. We take this lesson seriously and have been working for months negotiating with suppliers, testing component quality, and building a team that can execute on our promises. Our plans are nearly in place, and we now mainly require the resources to execute them.
Finding the right people is a challenge for any endeavor. Success in 3D printing requires a team of talented, passionate, and motivated designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs. We have already formed a truly awesome (and fun!) team, but we will have to bring in more Formlings to realize this dream. In fact, we are actively looking for new members to join Formlabs and hit the ground running! Check out our website for more information.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Shipping prices vary by location and country. It’s simpler (and cheaper for you) to handle this separately. After the Kickstarter is over and we are ready to start shipping, you will receive an invitation to go to our website and enter your shipping information to pay the appropriate amount. Shipping costs vary by location, but if you live in the US it will probably be somewhere around $50.
Unfortunately, international shipping is not as easy or cheap as we would like it to be. Prices vary by country and what taxes and other regulations your government has. If you order a Form 1 package through Kickstarter to be delivered outside the USA, we ask that you assume responsibility for all these charges. After our Kickstarter project ends, you will be asked to log into our website and pay the appropriate shipping charges.
First off, we love all of the support, from home and abroad! That makes us regret having to set a different price internationally. Over time, as our team and operations grow, we have every intent to improve our international capabilities. At the moment, the additional handling, regulatory requirements (e.g. CE), shipping costs in case of replacements, and support needs abroad demand more of our small team. We would rather charge more and follow through on our promises than charge less and disappoint you. That said, we are proud to offer a printer as powerful as the Form 1 at a price well below comparable machines in the USA and abroad.
We currently have no manufacturing or assembly operations outside of the USA, so we cannot reduce our costs by shipping from a different country. We really do care about being able to ship our product to anywhere in the world, so please bear with us as we get off the ground!
We are already working hard to plan our supply chain and manufacturing operations to make sure you get your Form 1 as soon as possible. We feel comfortable targeting February 2013 for our first full-production shipments in the USA/Canada, and March 2013 for our first International shipments.
The entire Form 1 is 12 x 11 x 18 in (30 x 28 x 45 cm) when closed. When the cover is opened, you need about 10 inches clearance on the back, and 3.5 inches on top. The Form Finish Kit is about 15 in x 15 in.
We have not yet set an ongoing price. Our Kickstarter supporters are definitely receiving special treatment for believing in what we do!
We estimate ongoing resin prices of around $149 per liter, but Kickstarter supporters who buy a Form 1 print package will be guaranteed at least 1 liter per month for $129 ($0.13 per cubic centimeter) or cheaper for the life of their printer. This is compared to available resin from traditional suppliers, which currently costs around $300-$800 per liter, and is less than a tenth the cost of online print services. We are not offering resin for sale over Kickstarter above the 1 liter included with Form 1 purchases. We will have resin for sale after Kickstarter and ready for delivery in time with the arrival of your Form 1.
Depending on your printing output and part size, 1 liter of resin can go a long way. Our 53mm tall rook, for example, uses ~13 cubic centimeters of resin. You could theoretically print 76 rooks per liter of resin!
Our first resin is still in its final stages of development and testing, so we can’t give hard performance numbers yet. We can say that the material is similar to the acrylate-based materials found in other SL and inkjet based 3D printers. These acrylate materials typically have elastic modulus and tensile strength that are comparable to ABS used in FDM machines. They typically have somewhat lower impact strength than FDM ABS. You can use our resin for functional parts, but they will usually have some degree of change in properties over time. We appreciate your patience as we finalize our resin.
After a successful launch (thanks to your support!), we will continue development of an entire palette of materials for your printer. A variety of colors, transparency, flexibility, and even burnout capability for lost wax casting processes are all possible with SL. We enjoy seeing all of your enthusiasm for new capabilities. We cannot release any more information on materials until we are ready to commit to specific performance promises. Thank you for your patience.
Our resin has a NPCA HMIS health safety rating of 2 (moderate), meaning that it should be carefully handled, like many common household chemicals. As with all chemicals, you should take care to limit exposure of the liquid resin to bare skin, and most definitely avoid ingestion. The cured (printed) resin, however, is very safe for handling. Finished resin-based parts are non-hazardous and can be disposed of as common waste. We will absolutely provide an MSDS before shipping the material. For a preliminary MSDS see: http://formlabs.com/pages/material
We are confident that we can ship resin overseas given the NPCA HMIS health safety rating. Part of what we are working on right now is ensuring we will ship all of our promised products. In the very unlikely case that we are unable to ship either your printer or your resin to you for regulatory reasons, we can offer a refund. We appreciate your patience as we prepare more information.
We've engineered our resin to work well with the Form 1. It's a huge part of the technical work that has gone into this project. The resin properties are closely linked with the Form 1 design. As a result, we won't be able to offer support for third party resins due to variations in properties. We do, however, see a bright future in resin development at Formlabs.
With the Form 1, you simply pour resin into the holding tray as necessary for your prints. The printer cover blocks UV light so that you can leave resin sitting while you are not printing. The resin has a very long shelf life, longer when stored in its bottle.
Form is not a design package. But it is an amazingly easy and intuitive tool to take your designs from any 3D CAD package and allow you to simply set up and start the print process. The Form Software will accept standard .STL files. We are working to have Form available on all major operating systems. Because the bulk of 3D CAD users are on the PC, this is our first priority, followed quickly by Mac.
3D print manufacturers often use layer thickness to define “resolution”, although any one metric provides an incomplete analysis of printer capabilities. The Form 1 can create layers as thin as 25 microns, which is much finer than other desktop machines. Another metric, the minimum feature size is 300 microns, which is limited by the diameter of the laser spot. Minimum feature size refers to the smallest possible bumps and ridges on a part. In general, the Form 1 can print a part at half the scale that an FDM machine would to achieve the same level of detail. The Form 1’s laser, however, has extremely precise movement capabilities in the X/Y plane. For example, the spot is 300 microns, but it can be moved as little as a few microns at a time, allowing for the impressive surface finish.
Our build speed is comparable to other high resolution printers. It varies depending on the type of print. A typical printing rate is around 15mm of height per hour. We’re designing this printer to be a serious workhorse. The Form 1 has less moving parts than most high resolution printers, and we have been running the prototypes in our office pretty much all day, every day during months of development.
Check out our video from Maker Faire of our first public demonstration! Our next stop is the 3D Print Show in London. Other than that, we hope to show off our printer in a variety of venues. We’ll do our best to accommodate requests, but please understand that we are getting A LOT of interest, which is a good thing, but it stretches our show and tell resources a bit ;)
At this time, we are very busy working on the details to get the Form 1 out the door, and we cannot accommodate individual sample requests. We will post an update when we are able to offer this. (post Kickstarter)
We can’t promise anything yet, but we know it’s very important and are working on it as a high priority. We’ll guarantee that you receive a working printer, and are planning to take extra special care of those of you who have supported us from the beginning.
Well, let’s get this one off the ground and into the world, and then we’ll see. Great to see you looking to the future!
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