So is the Form 2 3D printer worth an MSRP price of $3499? This is truly a premium device and will get you amazing results. The only major setback is the price!
When you’re searching for a high-end 3D printer, you’ll find that it gets harder and harder to find models that justify their price. Sure, they might come with advanced features, but are you actually going to utilize any of them?
Today we’ll be looking at a premium printer: the Formlabs Form 2. As such, we’re not going to pull any punches; if it has problems, we’ll let you know. However, we’ll also be sure to highlight any areas in which it excels. This will allow you to decide whether the Form 2 is right for your needs or not.
|Supported Materials||Various resins|
|Connectivity||Ethernet, WiFi, USB|
|Build Volume||5.7 x 5.7 x 6.9”|
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The Form 2 has a futuristic appearance, with an orange translucent cover and a clean, simplistic design. It’s different from most other 3D printers on the market, though, as it uses SLA printing instead of FFF. This means that it doesn’t use filament and build layer by layer – it uses a laser to solidify the resin.
Now, this resin is more expensive than regular filament, but the Form 2 can produce highly detailed models where the layers are all but indistinguishable. As such, it’s great for producing complex items. With a larger than average build area, there’s very little this printer can’t do.
Formlabs have taken steps to allow this printer to be used commercially. You’re not limited to proprietary resins, although there are specialized materials available for everything from jewelry to dentistry. Simply put, you’ll have a hard time finding a 3D printer that’s more versatile than the Form 2.
SLA printers almost always have higher overall quality than FFF ones, and the Form 2 is no exception. We found that it does an amazing job at creating extremely complex models, and there’s very little extra material left hanging off. Even sharp edges and overhangs pose very little threat to this printer.
The Form 2 goes out of its way to make things easier for you. It automatically finds the best orientation for any given print, and the user interface is very easy to get the hang of. It even provides a progress meter and displays the estimated remaining time, which is impressive.
It’s also worth mentioning that this is among the fastest printers we’ve seen. A 5” tall model takes around seven hours to print, so you can build working prototypes very quickly, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be wasting time on a failed print or a model with severe distortion.
One of the best things about this printer is the Quick Print function. This not only orients your model properly, it automatically builds any supports needed to hold it in place. The kit comes with all the tools you’ll need to finish your models too – including plastic snips for eliminating these supports after building.
While there’s no SD card support, there is a Gigabit Ethernet port for local connections, and you can also choose to send files via WiFi if you’d like. To be fair, this feature is to be expected from a high-end printer. There’s always the option to print from a USB stick if all else fails, though.
Not only does the resin refill automatically, but you can experiment with all sorts of things. Want to add things into the middle of a print? No problem! Want to etch things mid-print? That’s okay too! Obviously, these features are intended for experts, but if you’re buying this model, it’s likely you’re already pretty experienced.
Now, here’s the kicker: this product retails for around $4,000. This is probably too expensive for most hobbyists, but for medical or manufacturers, it represents a good way to reliably create professional-level objects that can be customized on demand. There are some extra costs involved, however.
If you’re using this commercially, you’ll likely want to wash and cure the finished products to clean them and maximize their strength. Formlabs sells two accessories for this, but they’ll set you back a further $1200. They do allow you to automate the process though, so you could save a lot of time.
There’s also the cost of the resin to consider. One liter of basic resin costs about $200, so it’s not really worth it for creating simple models. In these cases, a basic FFF printer would be superior. As such, we’d advise using the Form 2 only for the most critical prints.
The Form 2 comes with a one-year limited warranty, which is fairly standard. However, this can be extended by two years if you’re willing to pay around $550 more. Also, you can choose a service plan for around the same price. But what does this do?
Essentially, Formlabs will train you to use and maintain the printer yourself. They’ll also prioritize your queries over other customers, and hot-swap broken parts out so your business can keep running in case of any problems. This is a must-have for 3D printing businesses, even at this price.
Support is available via email, live chat, phone, or the user forums. The staff can give advice in English, German, French, and Italian, and Formlabs claims you’ll hear back in a matter of hours. This is clearly a premium support service for a premium product, and we’re glad the company pays such good attention to you even after they have your money.
To be brief: the Form 2 is a printer that boasts exceptional resolution and build quality. It allows you to fully automate the process, and the support team is absolutely fantastic. If you work in manufacturing or a medical field, there’s a lot of potential here.
That said, only large organizations will be able to afford this model. The printer, its add-ons, and support options are all prohibitively expensive. If there’s room in the budget, though, and you really need finely detailed models, we’d advise going for it – simply, there aren’t many printers better than this one.