Formlabs announced two new machines to complement their larger 3D printers.
One of the company’s focus areas in recent times has been on increasing the build volume for their products. This resulted in a new model, the Form 3L, being announced at the same time as the Form 3.
This was a bit unexpected. While the Form 3 was a clear successor to the highly popular Form 2 device, few knew the large format version, the Form 3L, was coming.
This device is quite large, having a build volume of 335 x 200 x 300 mm, versus the Form 3’s 145 x 145 x 185 mm, and the Form 2’s 145 × 145 × 175 mm.
The larger volume of the Form 3L allows the operator to do two new things: print many more parts within a single job, or print a much larger object.
It’s the latter that has been a bit of a sticking point, and you have to consider the workflow for using Formlabs equipment.
After the print completes, you must carefully remove the prints from the build plate, and then clean off all the residual liquid resin with a bath of IPA. To complete the print, it must then be bathed in UV light for a time to finalize the cure. The result is a clean, solid object.
This cleaning and curing process is usually terribly messy. I’ve witnessed horrifying scenes where toxic resin was splattered all over the work table, and that’s never good.
Formlabs solved the problem when they introduced the Form Wash and Form Cure accessories. These automated devices would accept fresh wet prints and clean them, as well as curing them rapidly with powerful UV light. They went a long way to making the resin workflow a lot safer and produce more consistent print results.
However, there was a problem: the larger prints made on the Form 3L often did not fit in the Form Wash and Form Cure.
Today, Formlabs announced the solution: the Form Wash L and Form Cure L.
These two devices are quite similarly to the original Form Wash and Form Cure, except that they are far larger in volume. They can accept larger prints made on the Form 3L (and Form 3BL dental printer, by the way) without issue. Similarly, the new equipment can also accommodate larger numbers of parts also produced on the large format printer
“Post-processing with Wash L and Cure L automates and streamlines the workflow by offering users pre-programmed settings that are tuned to each Formlabs resin. These large format solutions have also been validated and are compatible with the majority of our SLA materials, including biocompatible, sterilizable materials made in or ISO 13485 facility.”
The company believes the new equipment will enable clients to improve their part production processes. The large size of the Form 3L permits a higher throughput of parts overall, and that’s a very desirable feature.
It’s also possible operators of Form 3 equipment may be interested in the Form Wash L and Form Cure L, but not because they are printing large parts. Consider the possibility where an operator runs, say, three Form 3’s. The output from those printers could be placed into a single Form Wash L and Form Cure L and be processed in parallel. It might make sense to consider the new equipment in that respect.
Formlabs’ goal is to provide the operators with “a hassle-free, intuitive experience”. That’s been my experience with their equipment, and I expect that to continue with the Form Wash L and Form Cure L.
Formlabs said the new L models will be available early next year, but they can be pre-ordered today.