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Formlabs Form 1 3D desktop printer in full production

The printer features stereolithography, which uses a laser to cure liquid resin into microscopic layers.

3D printing enthusiasts will get a lot of laser-like precision for their buck from Formlabs.

The Formlabs Form 1 3D desktop printer is in full production, and that is big news for tinkerers and creative tech types.

That's because the printer employs a process that is significantly different than that used by other 3D printers on the market today.

Most 3D printers use a technique called extrusion, through which the printer melts plastic and lays it down in layers to create a 3D object. But the Form 1 features stereolithography, which uses a laser to cure liquid resin into microscopic layers, resulting in much more precise creations.

There's been a lot of excitement around the printer.

The Form 1 Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign last year was one of the most successful ever. While the company sought to raise $100,000 in funding from backers, it ended up raking in nearly $3 million.

"As components continue to arrive, the Form Team is readying our production lines to get moving as fast as possible on our U.S. factory floor," Formlabs operations manager Luke Winston wrote on the company's blog.

The first batch of printers will be rigorously tested, the company said, and most of the printers promised to Kickstarter backers will be shipped by the end of April, with shipping to people who pre-order now to start in May.

For $3,300, the Form 1 package includes the 3D printer, software, and post-processing kit that comes with a finishing tray to hold components, rinsing solution to remove excess resin, water bath, dipping basket, scraper to remove excess material, tongs and drip trough.

The idea of a relatively affordable desktop 3D printer has shaken up the competitive landscape. Lesser models can be as cheap as $1,300, while some of the top models can run over $100,000.

Formlabs and even Kickstarter are the targets of a patent lawsuit filed by 3D Systems, another maker of 3D printers. The lawsuit alleges that Formlabs infringed on a patent held by 3D Systems that relates to the stereolithography 3D-printing process.


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