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flexible_heart“I prefer FDM 3D printers over SLA 3D printers because there are so many more material options available,” say dozens of 3D printing enthusiasts daily.

Well, we have news for you! This is no longer the case, as of today. Formlabs today has announced a whole new suite of functional 3D printable resins for their Form 1+ SLA 3D printer. In what could be seen as some of the more groundbreaking news within the SLA 3D printing space, Formlabs will be releasing both a flexible and a castable resin.

Gone are the days of people complaining about the lack of materials offered by SLA 3D printers, as well as their lack of function. For those of you who have printed with these types of 3D printers, you know that they are capable of extremely high detail, but when it comes to functionality you are quite limited. SLA printed items have traditionally been very brittle, and simply can not hold up to the everyday wear and tear that FDM printed parts are capable of. With the introductions of these two new resins, this is about to change.

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Going from castable resin 3D print to metal object

Formlabs’ Castable Resin is designed to maintain the same fine details as more traditional resins, but is capable of burning out cleanly when used in investment casting. This means that those wishing to design detailed metal objects such as jewelry, strong parts, and other parts used for engineering and metalworking applications can now do so. Any metal that can be melted down and cast will be able to be formed into exact replicas of what is 3D printed using this new Castable Resin.

3D printed flexible tire on a Formlabs 3D printer

3D printed flexible tire from Formlabs

That’s only the start though. What I think is potentially “revolutionary” news is the release of Formlabs’ new flexible resin. This rubber-like material is extremely pliable when printed thin, but becomes very resilient and impact-resistant when printed thicker. FDM-based 3D printers have had the ability to print in flexible materials for quite some time now, and we have seen a tremendous amount of unique, innovative objects arise from this fact. Now being able to print flexible, impact-resistant objects with the extremely minute details exhibited by the Form 1+ 3D printer, the possibilities become endless. This new material will be perfect for hinges, shock absorption, tactile surfaces, and other engineering applications. It should be interesting to see what ideas and designs people can come up with.

“Much of the attention in 3D printing is focused on the machine,” said Formlabs co-founder Maxim Lobovsky. “At Formlabs, we’ve always considered the materials to be just as important. A library of functional materials has always been part of our plan, we’re pleased to introduce these resins to the world.”

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Formlabs Flexible Resin

While these are the two latest resins released by Formlabs, without a doubt this isn’t the end of the rainbow. With a growing team of material scientists, we will surely see more unique materials hitting the market soon. Material science is such an important area within the 3D printing industry, as we have so far been extremely limited by the lack thereof. As more new materials are released, new uses for this tremendous technology will continue to arise.

“Diverse materials are such a key piece in enabling innovation,” said Formlabs material scientist Katherine Hammes. “We’ve formulated our new resins to work seamlessly with our machine, and we’re thrilled with the results we’ve achieved with Castable and Flexible.”

The Castable Resin is available, starting today, in 500 ml bottles, via the Formlabs website. The Flexible Resin will be made available this coming December. Both resins will work with the Form 1 and Form 1+ 3D printers. On top of this phenomenal news, Formlabs also announced today that they have updated the ingredients used to make their Grey and Clear resins, giving them more stability over time and better printing performance. These new formulations wil begin shipping in November.

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What do you think about these new resins from Formlabs? Do you think, now that there are more material options available within the SLA space, we will see more people switching over from FDM to SLA technology? Discuss in the Formlabs Flexible and Castable Resin forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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