Formlabs is a company that has gone from Kickstarter superstar to the leading manufacturer of consumer/prosumer SLA 3D printers. Their Form 1+ 3D printer is their latest machine. It was announced back in June, providing an upgrade to its predecessor, the Form 1. Now, just a little more than 6 months later, they are announcing yet another upgrade.
This upgrade doesn’t come in the form of additional hardware. Instead it is a software update that looks to increase both efficiency and print speed on the Form 1+.
“We are adding a new ‘Draft Mode’ setting that allows you to print faster at a reduced resolution, which is great for really rapid prototyping,” Colin Raney, Global Marketing Lead at Formlabs, tells 3DPrint.com. “Also we’ve refactored our print supports so they use up to 60% less materials and result in faster prints.”
As for the print speeds, Formlabs says that printing with the new Draft Mode setting allows for print speeds up to twice as fast on the Form 1+. What it does is increase the thickness of each layer of the print to 200 microns, reducing the quality slightly but also greatly increasing its speed. Most of us within the 3D printing space know that, on average, SLA printing technology can provide higher quality results when it comes to layer thickness, and overall print quality, when compared to FDM/FFF-based printers. However, these new updates to the Form 1+ also appear to be giving the Form 1+ an advantage over FDM machines, as far as print speed goes, when printing at comparable resolutions.
“At Formlabs, we’re obsessed with providing the best user experience possible, and we’re always experimenting with new ways to make our products better,” explained Formlabs’ co-founder, Maxim Lobovsky. “Hardware is only half the story in 3D printing, and we’re proud to innovate just as profoundly in software.”
In addition to the newly released Draft Mode, a new print-preparation algorithm that the company’s engineers came up with now allows for the creation of Smart Supports, greatly reducing print-time and material usage. The advanced algorithm is able to generate more efficient and robust supports for printed objects. Material usage can be extremely expensive for users of 3D printers, so these new Smart Supports will definitely be a welcomed feature for owners of the Form 1+. Being able to reduce material usage by 60% means that the process of printing objects just became 60% more affordable.
“We looked a lot at trussed bridges and trees to understand more elegant and efficient ways to offer greater support with fewer contact points. There’s a lot of math and engineering in those little structures,” explained Formlabs Software Engineer Andrey Mishchenko.
These new changes are available in the latest version of PreForm, which is now available for all Form 1+ 3D printers, using Formlabs’ Clear Resin. The update, along with a tutorial, is available to download now on the Formlabs website. Also available are models for a 3D printed speaker, which is currently on display at the Formlabs booth at International CES 2015. The speaker, unlike other 3D printed speakers we’ve seen before, has most of its components 3D printed, and it works amazingly well. See how it was created using the new version of PreForm below.
What do you think about these new changes to the Formlabs software? Are these a welcomed sight to see?
3D printer maker Formlabs has risen quickly to prominence with market-leading SLA printers. Their Form 1+ 3D printer, announced in June as an upgrade to the Form 1, now has a new software upgrade to enhance efficiency and print speed. A new Draft Mode setting allows for a significant increase in prototyping speed by increasing layer thickness. Another enhancement to Formlabs’ software offerings is a new print-preparation algorithm that allows for the creation of Smart Supports. This usage will reduce material usage by 60% through the creation of more efficient print supports, inspired by trussed bridges and trees. Both software enhancements are available in the latest version of PreForm and can be downloaded — along with a tutorial — from Formlabs’ website. Check out the full article for more details on these software enhancements, as well as an example of a model of an almost completely 3D printed speaker: http://3dprint.com/34287/form-1-upgrade/
Below is a photo of Smart Supports: