Low Force Stereolithography printers

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:
The Formlabs Form 3L and Form 3

Formlabs has today announced the addition of two advanced professional Low Force Stereolithography (LFS) 3D printers to its hardware line-up: Form 3 and Form 3L.

LFS 3D printing is an advanced form of stereolithography (SLA) that delivers consistently flawless parts. The LFS process uses a flexible tank to reduce the forces of the peel process, providing better surface finish and detail, and linear illumination to deliver accurate, repeatable parts.

Clean part removal is one of the biggest problems posed to Formlabs from its customers as David Lakatos, chief product officer, explains: “One of the main features that we’ve designed this entire system around is to be able to produce very fine supports that usually fail on other SLA systems because the peel force between every single layer can rip these parts off the build platform.”

To combat this, the LFS process includes a flexible tank that reduces forces on parts while printing which gives better part detail and surface finish. Smoother parts combined with the tear-away light-touch supports make for easier clean up after they are removed.

Formlabs' Form 3

The system’s Light Processing Unit (LPU) is modular and can be replaced in the field by local operatives, and maintains a uniform, high density laser spot to ensure accurate, repeatable prints. The Form 3L uses two LPUs ensuring non-stop 24/7 printing.

Stefan Hollaender, managing director, EMEA, Formlabs, said: “Most customers want a fast and reliable printer that you can run 24/7, that is the biggest challenge in the market overall. Completely redesigning the printer from the bottom up we found a pretty good answer with this modular system. We’re getting larger build volume, faster, higher quality and more reliable. It’s important for mass customisation that you can print 24/7, this is going to help us make that breakthrough.”

The LFS print process behind the Form 3 is built to scale: Form 3L simultaneously uses two Light Processing Units (LPUs) to bring large format 3D printing in-house. Form 3L offers five times the build volume and two times the laser power of the Form 3 to print large parts fast.

Formlabs' Form 3L

In addition to the machines, Formlabs also announced a new material; Draft Resin. Draft Resin prints at 300 microns layer lines and is three to four times faster than other standard resins, making it ideal for rapid prototyping.

Lakatos said: “What we’re trying to do here is give a balance between quality and speed because, on the whole, 3D printing and other engineering applications always have this trade-off between quality and speed. That’s why we call it Draft. Instead of printing one prototype a day you can now print one in the morning, one over lunch and another before you go home, effectively shrinking a week’s worth of prototyping into one day.”


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