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CES 2014: Formlabs 3-D Printing Redux, With New Software (Video) 14

Posted by Roblimo
from the now-they're-actually-selling-some-product dept.
Slashdot visited the Formlabs CES display in 2013. Tim looked at their Stereolithgraphy 3-D printer again this year. The company is now boasting about their PreForm 1.0 software, and not as much about their hardware, which was their main focus last year. Another important difference was that at CES 2013 they couldn't talk about sales because they hadn't sold any units yet, but now they claim they've sold over 1000. And the last major problem they faced was a patent infringement suit, which seems to be settled (or nearly so). According to this Oct. 2013 article, it's doubtful that Formlabs would have been able to raise $2.95 million through Kickstarter, followed by another $19 million from traditional venture capitalists, if the lawsuit wasn't close to settlement -- which may not matter much in the long run, since many key patents in the field have either expired or are due to expire between now and 2015.

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CES 2014: Formlabs 3-D Printing Redux, With New Software (Video)

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  • by Xeleema (453073) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @04:28PM (#46039067) Homepage Journal
    Hell, *click* There you go.
  • by mlts (1038732) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @04:44PM (#46039245)

    Yes, what they have has finer tolerances than the typical Makerbot [1], but I wonder if the existing 3D printers are "good enough" for buyers, similar to the fact that inkjet printers outsell PostScript network printers by a wide margin, since most inkjets are "good enough".

    Now, if Formlabs can get sintered metals like Iconel variants working in an inexpensive, reliable product, that would be very useful news because their main competition would be a Mitsubishi unit that goes well in excess of $600,000.

    [1]: I assume Makerbots are the best price/performance for general amateur use outside of a machine shop.

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      "Good enough" depends on what you are printing.

      FDM printer like the MakerBot lineup are cheaper upfront for the machine, use cheaper material, offer more color options for the material, and generally have larger build capacities. The Form 1 however can do much higher resolution of small individual details and I believe the finished product is much smoother than what a FDM print would have with it's obvious layering.

      I've also heard but don't know if it's true that the Form 1 prints may not be as durable over

      • by mlts (1038732)

        It might have its uses as a cast for a mold. Stick it in a cube, fill the area around it with sand and compress. Then heat it so the plastic all drops out. Once gone, pour one's molten metal of choice, let cool, and then remove the sand for a decent meal object. With the finer tolerances, it might just be better suited for this purpose, including proper sprues in place, as shown by the software.

  • I hope Stereolithography takes off. I've run into a lot of the limitations (frustrations) of the FDM technology and it limits what you can really do with it. It's a really cool printer, but I'm not able to do everything I need to with it.

    I think technologies like the SLA will work better in the long run because they will be able to print more detailed parts and you won't have the same issues that FDM does, such as overhangs, sharp angles, hollow objects, etc...

    • by raynet (51803)

      I also hope that cheap UV-resins become available, unfortunately it seems that stereolithography companies want to go the inkjet route and keep their formulas secret so they can sell the print materials with higher margins for profit.

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