The Form 2 ($3,499) is a apparent redesign from the aboriginal bearing of Formlabs 3D printers, from which we advised the Form 1 . Priced $200 college than the Form 1 , the Form 2 incorporates a advanced ambit of improvements, including a beyond body volume, a added able laser, a blow screen, Wi-Fi connectivity, an automatic resin-feed system, new adhesive types and cartridges, and a revised finishing system. In best respects, these updates advance the printer’s capabilities and the user experience, and it is a big footfall advanced from its predecessor. The Form 2 is an impressive, professional-quality printer with arresting book quality, and earns our aboriginal Editors’ Choice for 3D printers targeted to professionals.
Stereolithography 3D PrintingLike the Form 1 , as able-bodied as the XYZPrinting Nobel 1.0, the Form 2 is a stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer. Unlike the added accepted alloyed fiber artifact (FFF) 3D printers that book from spools of artificial filament, SLA printers use an ultraviolet laser to trace a pattern, agnate to the layers of the article to be printed, in a vat of photosensitive resin. The adhesive hardens breadth the laser touches it, forming, band by layer, into the advised object. Unlike an FFF 3D printer, in which an article is congenital upwards on the body platform, the article in an SLA printer grows from the basal of the body platform, which descends into and rises from the adhesive tray. This address can aftermath alluringly abundant prints. Among the downsides are that it’s messier, acute you to accord with the adhesive resin, as able-bodied as isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, and the choices of adhesive blush are limited.
Stereolithography was the aboriginal 3D-printing address to be developed, and until recently, SLA printers amount able-bodied into five, and in some cases six, figures. Formlabs helped conductor in a amount advance with its Form 1 series, authoritative SLA 3D columnist affordable for artists, artefact designers, and baby businesses. XYZPrinting added bargain SLA printer prices with the Nobel 1.0.
Design and FeaturesThe Form 2 measures 20.5 by 13.5 by 13 inches (HWD) and weighs 28 pounds. The printer’s awning swings advancement aback you accessible it, so you will charge at atomic a basal of added vertical space. The body breadth measures 6.9 by 5.7 by 5.7 inches, hardly beyond than the 6.5 by 4.9 by 4.9 inches that we saw in the Form 1 and agnate in absolute aggregate to the XYZPrinting Nobel. Its body aggregate is abate than the 5.9 by 7.8 by 9.9 inches we saw in the Editors’ Choice MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer, an FFF model. Like the FormLabs Form 1 , the Form 2 offers actual aerial resolutions, of 25, 50, and 100 microns for accepted resin. The printer is controlled through a 4.3-inch blow screen.
The Form 2 appearance a revamped and automatic resin-feed system, with an bigger adhesive tray, and adhesive cartridges instead of the bottles from the aboriginal bearing of Formlabs printers. The cartridges, which anniversary authority a liter of resin, fit in a alcove in the aback of the printer. Before inserting one, you aish a valve awning and advance bottomward on one ancillary of the cartridge’s cap. The printer should ascertain aback a armament is in abode and analyze the blazon and blush of adhesive by agency of a dent in the cartridge. Aback you barrage a book job, the adhesive will breeze from the armament into the tray until it alcove a preset level.
The new resin-tray architecture adds a wiper that periodically agitates the resin, allowance to anticipate clots of accustomed adhesive from basic and eliminating the charge to manually adjust through the adhesive to aish accustomed bits. You charge to use a abstracted tray for anniversary blush or affectionate of adhesive you book with. Aback a adhesive tray is not in use, it should be capped and stored abroad from light. The printer comes with a distinct adhesive tray, as able-bodied as a liter of bright resin. The Form 2’s awning is clear-cut orange, which acts as a UV clarify to advice anticipate the adhesive from actuality accidentally convalescent and solidifying. Unlike with the Formlabs Form 1 , with which adhesive would calmly harden, I didn’t acquaintance any issues with exceptionable adhesive hardening with the Form 2.
Formlabs offers four shades of Accepted resin—clear, white, gray, and black—as able-bodied as several specialty resins: Tough (rugged and durable), Castable (for adornment casting), and Adjustable (compressible and bendable). Formlabs sells the Accepted adhesive for $149 for a 1-liter bottle, the aforementioned amount as for the Form 1 . We accept no accessible way to admeasurement amount per article for best 3D printers, but based on my recollections of the cases in which we did accept some information, this is somewhat college than the amount of columnist with best polylactic acerbic (PLA) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic. The specialty resins are added expensive: $175 per liter for Tough, $199 for Flexible, and $299 for Castable. You charge a abstracted adhesive tray ($59 from Formlabs), for anniversary blazon or blush of adhesive you use. XYZPrinting sells adhesive (through third parties) for its Nobel 1.0 at a lower amount ($119 per liter), but in our testing it ran out of adhesive afterwards aloof bristles prints. The Form 2 was still columnist with its liter canteen of Tough adhesive afterwards 10 analysis prints, including several ample ones. The Form 2 additionally supports the use of third-party resins, which you charge to cascade into the tray by hand.
With the Form 2, you can book via USB 2.0, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi. I did all my testing over a USB connection, and auspiciously set up a Wi-Fi affiliation on the printer as well. The XYZPrinting Nobel prints over a USB affiliation or from a USB deride drive, while the MakerBot Replicator Desktop prints from a deride drive, or over a USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi connection.
Shipped forth with the printer is a finishing kit. Aback a book is completed, you put on a brace of artificial gloves (many are included), aish the body belvedere and put it into a jig (holder) on a provided tray, and aish the article from the belvedere application a scraper or added tool. There are two vats that you ample with isopropyl booze (not included). You put the article into a bathe bassinet and douse it in the booze for 30 seconds, affective the bassinet up and down, and again aing the lid to the vat and let the article sit for 10 minutes. You again echo the bathe activity application the additional vat, aish the object, and let it dry.
SoftwareThe Form 2 uses the company’s PreForm software, which we aboriginal saw in the Formlabs Form 1 . It is downloadable for either Windows or Mac from the Formlabs site. Already you amount an article file, you can move it, calibration it, alike it, and add or aish supports (as able-bodied as alteration specific abutment points). Aback you’re done, you columnist a book icon, verify that the adhesive blazon matches what’s installed in the printer. Again you can accelerate the job over your adopted affiliation blazon to the printer, and save a archetype of the book for reuse.
The Dashboard affection lets you clue the advance of your book jobs accidentally through the Formlabs website. Already you set up a (free) Dashboard annual with Formlabs, you articulation your printer to it. (Our analysis printer had the analytical name of HistoricalBush.) Again you can log into the Formlabs site, bang on the My Dashboard link, and see the cachet of advancing book jobs and a almanac of accomplished prints.
Setup and PrintingAfter ambience up the finishing kit, absolutely accepting the printer up and active was accessible enough. I downloaded and installed the company’s PreForm software, angry the printer on, and affiliated it via USB cable to a computer. I caked adhesive into one of the tanks, slid the catchbasin into its aperture in the basal of the printer, absorbed the body platform, and bound it into place. I launched the software, called a book to be printed, resized and confused the article on my computer screen, launched the book from the software, and apprenticed the Book on on the advanced of the printer.
Once you accelerate a book to the Form 2, its upload advance will arise on the printer’s display. Depending on the admeasurement of the file, this can booty a few minutes. Already the upload is complete, you tap the screen, and again columnist the on to the lower appropriate of the screen, and columnist will alpha already the adhesive is acrimonious to the able temperature of 30 degrees Celsius. The estimated time actual will be displayed on screen.
I printed about 15 analysis altar with the Form 2, application Tough, Flexible, and Accepted atramentous resins at the printer’s absence resolution of 100 microns. Book affection for about every article was excellent. In fact, I was afraid by how able-bodied several of the analysis altar angry out. I printed a floral-looking lampshade advised to use the printer’s absolute body area. Aback I larboard the office, it was in mid-print; aback I alternate in the morning I was abashed to see the completed print: translucent, abysmal blooming (as is the case of all the prints application the Tough resin), huge and gossamer, adjustable yet strong.
I additionally printed a holder for a GoPro Hero4 activity cam, one of several altar I printed with supports. Already I snipped the supports away, the article had abundant angle so that I could cull two clasps far abundant afar that I could admit the camera and again aing them bound to defended the camera. It’s a chic design, and one able-bodied ill-fitted to the Form 2’s capabilities.
One of our accepted analysis article consists of aloft argument and a array of geometric shapes bulging from a about vertical surface. The Form 2 did the best job we’ve apparent on this analysis from any 3D printer, acutely besting the MakerBot Replicator Desktop, as able-bodied as the Ultimaker 2, in columnist admirable rectangles, circles, and text. That book did accept one blemish, a slight angle in a vertical abutment a the top of the object, admitting it was far milder than the accedence in the aforementioned abutment that we saw in the Ultimaker 2 .
Such apprehension of accomplished detail was accessible in intricate aesthetic altar as well. Application the accompanying action in the PreForm software, I printed out bristles chess rooks, anniversary beneath than an inch tall, and anniversary with a tiny circling access and two strands of adhesive anguish in a bifold braid within.
I had a botheration with the Accepted atramentous adhesive armament that Formlabs beatific us. Aback I amid it, the printer wouldn’t admit it, and armament cachet on the affectation was listed as “missing.” Our acquaintance at Formlabs suspects that either the dent was misaligned or that it larboard the architect unprogrammed—both are attenuate issues, he says. Formlabs beatific us a backup atramentous cartridge, which the printer had no agitation recognizing.
Some Acquirements RequiredI did acquaintance some problems in printing, most, if not all, of which were accidental newbie errors. My aboriginal two efforts were misprints. Aback you amount a book into PreForm, it appears in the front-right bend of the platform, and aback I approved columnist them out from there (as I hadn’t ample out how to centermost them yet), they didn’t book at all. Already I accomplished that you can manually centermost altar already you about-face the blueprint appearance to one in which you are attractive bottomward on the software’s representation of the body belvedere from above, I had no added absolutely adulterated prints.
One analysis book had a hardly askew base; I had allegedly agee the article hardly in the software aback advancing it for printing. All the added issues I encountered anxious supports, and aback to book with or after them. Aback you’re done with a book that has supports, you abbreviate the supports away, but they still leave marks that in some cases are visible. The abutment marks can be bargain by sanding, admitting apparently not eliminated. Fortunately, the abutment credibility are abundantly hidden on the aback or basal of an object. I printed a baby owl with supports. I removed them, but it larboard the owl’s aback heavily blemished, and the tips of its wings damaged. You can about-face the supports on and off in the software, as able-bodied as aish specific abutment credibility to abate the cardinal of abutment marks.
You can book assorted altar collapsed on the book bed; this formed for the rooks and the lampshade that I made. The downside is that the altar attach acerb abundant to the book bed that they may be adamantine to remove. Sometimes they will crop to the included scraper—which is additionally acclimated for charwoman balance adhesive off the body plate—but generally they stubbornly abide removal. There are tricks you can try, such as binding the snippers at the abject of a corner, or avaricious a alpine article with your duke or with cloth-covered needle-nosed pliers and agee downward. Although this usually worked, aback I approved agee one owl print, the object’s abject shattered, and alone allotment of it came off with the print.
The acceptable account is that I was able to apprentice from these mistakes and try altered approaches with afterwards prints. There is a acquirements ambit involved, and I wasn’t able to absorb abundant time with the Form 2 to absolutely adept columnist with it, but it got easier as I went forth and abstruse through my own experience.
A Printer Geared Toward ProsAs an SLA printer, the Formlabs Form 2 presents some different advantages and disadvantages over 3D printers that use artificial filament. Both its aerial resolution and its ample amount tag put it into the branch of able printers, although hobbyists, art and abstruse schools, and consumers with abysmal pockets may additionally booty a ankle to it. The resin-feed arrangement has been automated, but the book activity is still messy. Both the printer and abstracts are added big-ticket than 3D printers that use artificial filament, such as the Editors’ Choice MakerBot Replicator Desktop, but the book affection acutely surpasses that of any FFF printer we accept tested. Although it costs added than any FFF printer we accept tested, the Form 2 is almost bargain for an SLA printer. There are a few lower-priced models such as the XYZPrinting Nobel and Formlabs’ own Form 1 , but best pro models are in the $5,000 ambit or alike higher.
The MakerBot Replicator Desktop is a able apparatus that is accessible by individuals, schools, hobbyists, and professionals, and it charcoal our Editors’ Choice as a high-end general-purpose 3D printer. However, artists, adornment designers, architects, engineers, artefact designers, businesses that charge casual brief manufacturing, and added professionals defective still college affection for their prints can get it with the Formlabs Form 2, which offers superb book affection at a almost low amount for an SLA 3D printer. It earns our aboriginal Editors’ Choice for 3D printers aimed at professionals.
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