FormLabs' high-def 3D printer makes microscopic layers with lasers

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Over the past few years, we’ve seen 3D printers rise in popularity and become way more affordable. But like all things technology, at some point there has to be a generation-leaping change.

A new company called FormLabs, led by MIT Media Lab researchers, believes that the next step for 3D printers is for them to become high-definition, just as televisions eventually evolved from CRTs to LCD-based HDTVs. To the end, FormLabs have developed a radically different 3D printer that forms shapes using lasers and liquid resin rather than extruded plastic.

The Form 1 3D printer uses a process known as stereolithography (SLA), which uses a laser to cure liquid resin into microscopic layers. The resolution of a 3D print is measured in the thickness of the shapes layers, and the SLA process allows the Form 1 printer to create layers as thin as 25 microns (0.001 inches), where as the MakerBot Replicator 2 can only make layers as thin as 100 microns.


The Form 1 printer can also create objects as large as 4.9 by 4.9 by 6.5 inches (125 by 125 by 165 millimeters).

FormLabs says that its Form 1 printer will be the first affordable professional-quality printer that can produce the same high-resolution prints as a machine that normally cost tens-of-thousands of dollars.

FormLabs already has raised almost $1.5 million on Kickstarter so far, but if you want to get into this high-definition printing game, you can get you own Form 1 printer for $2700.

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This story, "FormLabs' high-def 3D printer makes microscopic layers with lasers" was originally published by TechHive.

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