Formlabs Form 1+ API now available on Github

Since 2014, the Form 1+ has been serving a faithful community of avid resin-oriented 3D printer enthusiasts. With an API now released publicly on Github, it’s time for the Form 1+ to introduce itself to a crew of eager hardware hackers.

Exposing an interface to the printer opens the door to a world of possibilities. With the custom version of PreForm that arrives with this release, a whopping 39 different properties are open for tuning, according to the post on Reddit. Combining these newly-accessible parameters with a sufficient number of hackers, odds are good that the community will be able to quickly converge on stable settings for 3rd party resins. (We’re most excited to see the Homebrew PCBs community start exposing their UV-sensitive PCBs with this hardware setup.)

Heads-up: poking around in this brave new world is almost certain to void your warranty, but if you’re eager to get SpacewΛr up-and-running, it might just be worth it.

Extremely Thorough Formlabs Form 2 Teardown by Bunnie

[Bunnie Huang] recently had the opportunity to do a thorough teardown of the new Formlabs Form 2 printer. It’s a long read, so just head over there and immerse yourself in every detail. If you want the cliff notes, though, read this but still go look at all the pretty pictures.

First, it’s a major upgrade with pretty much every component. The CPU is a huge step up, the interface went from monochrome to full color touch screen, the connectivity has been upgraded with WiFi and Ethernet, the optics are much better and safer, the power supply is integrated, there are lots of little improvements that handle things like bed leveling, calibration, resin stirring, pausing jobs, and resin refilling during a print. Bunnie practically gushes at all the features and impressive engineering that went into the Form 2.

You can compare the teardown of the Form 2 to [Bunnie’s] teardown of the Form 1 printer back in 2013.

The Triumph of Open Design and the Birth of a FormLabs Aftermarket

Whilst designing hardware, it’s easy to shut the doors, close the blinds, and bury ourselves deeply into an after-hours design session. Although it’s tempting to fly solo, it’s likely that we’ll encounter bugs that others have handled, or perhaps we’ll realize that we forgot to add a handy feature that someone else could’ve noticed before we sent the darned PCB files out for fab. All that said, if we probe the community around us and ask for feedback, we can produce a project that’s far more functional and feature-complete in less time than if we were to design solo. Who knows? With enough eyes giving feedback on your project, maybe others will get excited enough to want one for themselves! [Andrew Werby] and [Zak Timan] on the FormLabs forums did just that: through months of iterative design and discussion on the FormLabs forums, they’ve created the first 3rd party glass resin tank that’s altogether sturdier, longer-lasting, more scratch-resistant, and less distorting than the original resin tank. And guess what? After months of trials through a few brave customers, you too can be the proud owner such a tank as they’re now up for sale on [Zak’s] website.
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SpacewΛr Comes to Life from Bonus Formlabs Printer Parts

What might you do with a few extra stereolithographic 3D printer parts? Why not make a galvo display and resurrect a couple of classic vector graphic games of yore? That’s exactly what [Matt] did. With a few extra Formlabs components and a Haskell implementation of Spacewar, [Matt] can kick back and blast his extraterrestrial foes on the surface of his Formlabs cover.

[Matt’s] source code drives the Form 2 controller board to output laser graphics on the surface of a Form 1 case. These parts might be a commodity for this Formlabs Engineer, but the output is nothing short of spectacular, given the game and USB drivers were put together from scratch. In case you want to give the Haskell source code a try, [Matt’s] kindly included an alternative software-only display using OpenGL.

Unless you’ve just upgraded from Form 1 to Form 2, odds are pretty low that you can pull this one off without breaking either your printer or your wallet. Fortunately, [Alvaro] has paved the way with a stellar galvanometer display that began as a few parts from eBay. At last! Once our Formlab printer warranties expire, we’ll know where to start looking for parts for that mosquito killer we needed.

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3D Printed Plane Flies High

One of our avid readers, [Niklas Melton] loves RC planes. After getting into 3D printing, the next logical step was to start building is own planes… And now he’s done it!

He calls it the Air-Form 1 Micro RC plane, paying homage to the FormLabs resin printer he used. All of the parts except for the electronics were printed using a tough resin. It’s designed to take balsa wood wings into clips he designed into the parts. A 150mAh battery provides the power with a motor that exerts about 54g of thrust — not bad considering the entire thing only weighs 60g! Unfortunately he doesn’t have any video clips of it flying, though he assures us it does indeed fly — if you’re interested in building your own, he’s uploaded all the files to a page on Thingiverse.

As more advanced 3D printers come down in price, like the SLA technology, it becomes possible to design and 3D print even more complex parts. Some of the resins available have now some pretty amazing properties. One of our readers replaced a servo spline gear with one he printed — which works even better than the original!

Incubating Resin Prints through the Chilly Months

FormLabs resins operate best between the comfortable temperature range of 18 – 28°C (64 – 82°F). For many of us experiencing the chillier weather these days, our garage workshops can easily drop below those temperatures and cause our prints to fail. Rather than hunker down for the freeze and wait for the world outside to defrost, [MarkStrohbehn] has discovered a budget heating technique that heats the print chamber from the inside instead.

This trick comes in two parts. First, to bring the temperature up, [Mark] installed an egg incubator inside the chamber using a powerful magnet attached to the fixture containing the lead screw. Next, to maintain the warm temperature, he’s taped together an insulating jacket composed of several layers of off-the-shelf mylar emergency blankets. Finally, he’s managed to slip the egg incubator power cable cleanly under the FormLabs lid without triggering the open-lid sensor. This hack is staggeringly simple but effective at reducing the odds of failed prints through the cold weather. Best of all, the modifications are far less invasive than other upgrades made to 3D printers, as it requires no modification of the Form1+. For those of us who haven’t seen the sun in a few months, rest assured that you can still churn out parts.

Home-brew Vibration Cleaner leaves your SLA Prints Squeaky-Clean

If you’ve had the chance to add a Form 1+ 3D printer to your basement, you might find the post-print cleaning step a bit tedious. (A 20-minute alcohol bath? Outrageous!) Fortunately, for the impatient, [ChristopherBarr] has developed the perfect solution: a post-print agitator that cuts the time in-and-out-of the bath from 20 minutes to about two.

[ChristopherBarr’s] build is the right conglomerate of parts we’d expect when keeping the price down for this hack. He’s combined a palm sander, a couple pints of urethane expanding foam, and two loaf pans into one agitating mechanism that he’s dubbed “the Loafinator.” With the urethane expanding foam, [ChristopherBarr] achieved a near-perfect fit of the sander inside the loaf pan, now that the foam has filled in the remaining contours to hold the sander in place. Best of all, the sander hasn’t been sacrificed for this build; instead, the foam holder was assembled in three stages and isolated from the sander with a layer of plastic wrap to enable later extraction.

[ChristopherBarr’s] simple, yet practical, hack serves as an excellent solution to a number of hobbyists looking to “get things agitated.” While his device is able to polish off the uncured resin from his resin prints much faster than the conventional approach, we’d imagine that a similar build could greatly expedite the PCB etching process in a muriatic-acid or ferric-chloride based PCB etching procedure–far more quickly than our previous automated solution. The time-saving comes at a price; however. Once you’ve installed your very own Loafinator alongside your printer, expect a few nosy neighbors to start asking for visits to check out your new motorboat.

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