By Terrence O’Brien posted Sep 26th 2012 6:46PM for
Formula ONE 3D printer

A $2,300 3D printer isn’t really anything special anymore. We’ve seen them as cheap as $350 in fact. But all those affordable units are of the extrusion variety — meaning they lay out molten plastic in layers. The FORM 1 opts for a method called stereolithography that blasts liquid plastic with a laser, causing the resin to cure. This is one of the most accurate methods of additive manufacturing, but also one of the most expensive thanks to the need for high-end optics, with units typically costing tens-of-thousands of dollars. A group of recent grads from the MIT Media Lab have managed to replicate the process for a fraction of the cost and founded a company called Formlabs to deliver their innovations to the public. Like many other startups, the group turned to Kickstarter to get off the ground and easily passed its $100,000 within its first day. As of this writing over $250,000 had been pledged and the first 25 printers have already been claimed.

The FORM 1 is capable of creating objects with layers as thin as 25 microns — that’s 75 percent thinner than even the new Replicator 2. The company didn’t scrimp on design and polish to meet its affordability goals either. The base is a stylish brushed metal with the small build platform protected by an orange plastic shell. There’s even a companion software tool for simple model creation. You can still get one, though the price of entry is now $2,500, at the Kickstarter page.