3D Printing startup Formlabs is on its way


3D PRINTING is the process by which a machine shapes plastic into an object by laying down plastic one layer at a time. Well this mights sounds techy to the average consumers out there, it also might as well be our future of printing our broken home furniture or other similar things like a bottle or even a Tupperware storage container.

Massachusetts-based Formlabs began a Kickstarter project seeking $100,000 to bring to market the Form-1, its new 3D printer design. It ended up raising $2.9 million.

“There was an unmet need,” Cranor said, one of the founders. “Professional 3D printers at the high end run tens of thousands of dollars. The low-end equipment is more affordable but less than professional. There was a huge hole in between to satisfy with architects, jewellers, and other professionals in that middle ground who can make use of 3D printing.”

The current batch of affordable hobbyist 3D printers carry out their process by means of plastic extrusion–plastic is melted and laid out very precisely one layer at a time until a fully-formed 3D object takes shape. Formlabs decided to take an entirely different approach.

“We use a photochemical process called stereolithography,” they said. “We hit liquid resin with a wavelength of light. It polymerizes and hardens, but this has nothing to do with heat. It’s an extremely precise laser that traces out objects to within 5 microns of precision.”

“The first PCs didn’t go to homes. They went to businesses.”

The most obvious parallels are to the early days of the PC industry. Where mainframe computers of the 1970s are like the super-expensive 3D printers of today, the first Macintosh is like the Form-1, a device that fits on your desk but still carries out all the functionality of its larger, pricier counterpart.

“The first PCs didn’t go to homes. They went to businesses,”. “We tend to see that as the parallel to what we’re doing here.” And this obviously doesn’t exclude other 3D printing companies. Brook Drumm of Printrbot and Bre Pettis of Makerbot each chipped in for a Form-1 of their own.


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