Formlabs Debuts Experimental Product Platform and Resins, Showcases Innovative Customer Products and Demos at CES 2017
3D printer designer and manufacturer Formlabs spends a lot of time and effort working on developing its collection of 3D printing materials: the company released Dental SG resin in early 2016, and just a few months ago announced its new and improved Tough Resin. The company is at CES 2017 this week, and announced that it will be introducing a totally reformulated Grey Resin, an experimental product platform called Form X, and Form X’s first experimental material, Ceramic Resin. Formlabs will discuss more details about the new resins and Form X during its CES digital manufacturing talk tomorrow morning.
Dávid Lakatos, chief product officer at Formlabs, said, “Our general purpose resins have always been a great focus of our development efforts. We worked together with our customers to arrive at the third reformulation of Grey, which brings greater opacity and matte finish to one of our most beloved materials.”
Grey Resin has tensile strength similar to that of ABS plastic once it’s been post cured. The neutral color is perfect for inspecting the details of your print, and features a nice, clean matte finish. But what’s really exciting is the experimental Form X platform. It showcases cutting-edge approaches, materials, and tools to advanced 3D printer users who are looking for a way to test the limits of desktop SLA printing. They’ve obviously come to the right place, since Formlabs is the company that brought SLA printing to the desktop in the first place with its Form 1 and Form 1+ 3D printers.
The Form X platform includes both Ceramic Resin and OpenFL, an API that can be used for hacking the Form 1+; this allows the printer to support third party materials and non-standard applications, like creating lithopanes and etching PCBs. The company does have more projects in development, and you can find some of the other user-led experimental projects on the Formlabs Forums.
Lakotas said, “In announcing Form X, we want to get innovative materials and research tools into the hands of those who wish to explore, improvise, and push the boundaries of what’s possible with 3D printing and on the Form 2. Ceramic Resin is perfect example with Form X. Ceramic Resin is one of the most novel areas in material science to explore in 3D printing right now. Ceramic 3D printing allows for the creation of structures and complex geometries not possible with traditional ceramic fabrication techniques.”
The experimental Ceramic Resin, though requiring some extra precautions like polyester film to protect the build platform, can produce post-cured 3D prints that look and feel like ceramic. Once the print has been fired, it will transform into a pure ceramic part that’s suitable for glazing, though you’ll need to use a programmable kiln and account for shrinkage effects. The current formulation is optimized for detailed printing, and is made up of, according to Formlabs, “a mixture of ceramic microparticles dispersed in a photopolymer resin.” Users will want to vigorously shake the cartridge before use.
At CES this week, Formlabs will also be showcasing and demonstrating products from several companies using Formlabs technology for innovative purposes. These companies are making big changes in fields like healthcare, virtual reality, and prosthetics, using digital manufacturing. Some examples include:
- Virtual reality and fitness: Enflux motion capture clothes have tiny, built-in motion sensors, and let you turn into a virtual character just by moving. CES attendees are invited to try on the shirt and check out the interactive VR experience.
- Waterproof camera for diving: Built by divers for divers, Paralenz is a tough, user-friendly underwater action camera. It delivers high quality footage and is waterproof up to 400 meters.
- Changing how bionic hands are made: GE engineer and loyal Formlabs customer Lyman Connor is launching Handsmith, which will make customized, affordable prosthetics using Formlabs printers and engineering resins. He wants to reinvent how prosthetic hands (which can cost upwards of $50,000) are made.
Connor has actually been designing a customizable bionic hand for the past several years, after he was injured in a bike accident and by chance met a boy in the hospital elevator in need of an expensive prosthetic hand. He was struck by the encounter and started to investigate.
In a Formlabs blog post, Connor said, “You get racked and stacked based on your age, physical attributes, how active your life is, things of that nature. That defines what kind of prosthesis you actually end up with. So just because you may want a prosthetic hand, doesn’t mean that you’ll qualify for it, even if your insurance will pay.”
Connor recently completed and fit his first production prosthesis, and is aiming to build bionic hands for 30 more patients this year. Learn more about his work in the video below:
Visit Formlabs at CES 2017 in the Sands Expo Center, booth #42315, and learn more about the companies using Formlabs printers to create innovative projects. To learn more about the company’s new Grey Resin, Form X, and Ceramic Resin, come listen to Lakotas give his “Manufacturing and 3D Printing in 2017” talk tomorrow morning, at the Venetian/L4 Marcello 4405. Don’t forget, 3DPrint.com is also at CES, and will continue to bring you more news about what new things are going on in the tech and 3D printing industries. Discuss in the Formlabs forum at 3DPB.com.
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