I got a Form 1 3D printer!
It’s the first 3D printer I’ve purchased (technically, I “backed” it). I managed to acquire a pre-release beta unit, as I’m affiliated with Neoteny Labs, one of Formlabs’ inv...
I got a Form 1 3D printer!
It’s the first 3D printer I’ve purchased (technically, I “backed” it). I managed to acquire a pre-release beta unit, as I’m affiliated with Neoteny Labs, one of Formlabs’ investors.
What’s the first thing I do with any shiny new gadget? That’s right, I take it apart!
The complete Form 1 kit consists of three boxes: the printer (shown above), bottles of liquid photocurable resin, and a cleaning station. Many optical stereolithography printers require a cleaning step to wash off the uncured resin; for the Form 1 this means rinsing the part in isopropyl alcohol (the same stuff you use to disinfect cuts, but more concentrated) for a few minutes.
The packing method, at least for the beta, is styrofoam-free. It uses a pair of thin plastic sheets suspended on cardboard frames to hold the printer in a cradle. For a box that went as checked luggage from Boston to Singapore through three flights, it held up remarkably well.
The printer box also contains the power supply, cables, and the requisite quickstart guides.
The serial number scheme, at least for the beta units, is “AdjectiveAnimalname”, so mine is simply “ChiefCat” — hurray for easy-to-read serial numbers!
You need exactly one tool to disassemble the printer: a 2.5mm hex key (or, if you’re a fan of Torx, a T-10 bit). I really appreciate the balance of good design with practicality: it looks good, and you don’t need whacky pentalobe screwdrivers to service it. It does take a bit of elbow grease to undo the screws; but a grippy Torx driver makes short work of the problem without a single stripped screw.
Two screws release the orange-colored light shield from its hinge, and four screws release the top of the base unit from the frame. The orange-colored shield protects your eyes from stray blue laser light, while also protecting the photosensitive resin bath on the inside from stray ambient light.
Six more screws (two of which are on the bottom) release the mid-frame from the base. The mid-frame is screwed to the front and back panels, but I didn’t need to remove the panels, as there is enough flexability in the sheet aluminum to slide the mid-frame off. The wiring to the front panel is tidily secured and is exactly the right length to allow the frame to sit next to the base without having to undo any cables — super-convenient for service and debug.
The inside of the front panel reveals the adapter for the OLED display, as well as the very handsome back-lit power button.
One of the great things about a stereolithography 3D printer is that it uses a laser to cure a resin, instead of melting and extruding a plastic. As a result, the operation is whisper-quiet, and there is no odor during operation — you can put the printer in a bedroom and still sleep at night. To borrow the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi: “This is the 3D printer of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or as random as an FDM, but an elegant tool for a more civilized age.”
I count four motors in the Form 1: two stepper motors with lead screws, and two galvonometers (which I refer to as simply “galvos”). Let’s tour the printer’s mechanisms, motor by motor.
A large stepper motor with a lead screw running up the spine of the device pulls the build platform upwards. This causes the printed object to appear to “grow” out of the resin bath.
The build platform is attached to the leadscrew with an anti-backlash nut. The spring in the picture above applies a static force to the leadscrew-nut interface, reducing the play between the two and improving accuracy.
Every time a thin layer of resin is cured, a second motor performs a “peel” operation by tilting one edge of the resin tank downwards. The peel operation separates the newly formed layer from the bottom of the resin tank, allowing the build plat
about 4 hours ago