Today, Formlabs is introducing a new Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printer for prototypers and engineers. The Fuse 1 uses the company’s first Nylon powder to make SLS printing more affordable and accessible for businesses. It’s an industrial printer with a removable build chamber, which can be swapped out when a job is finished, for near-continuous use. In addition, a built-in camera will let users watch the build taking place in real time, letting them keep an eye out for any issues.
Formlabs’ has carved a deep niche for itself in the medical prosthetics world, and its Form printers are used to make false teeth. Fuse 1, meanwhile, has already been tested by Partial Hand Solutions, a company making prostheses for people with missing fingers. PHS founder Matthew Mikosz said that the new machine enables his company to “truly customize” prosthetics and “quickly get this solution to our patients.”
The three most common types of plastic 3D printing are FDM, SLA, and SLS. The domestic 3D printers, depositing droplets of melted plastic filament, use the Fused Deposition Modeling process. Formlabs made its name with SLA, or Stereolithography, which uses a laser to cure droplets of liquid resin into a shape. SLS, or Selective Laser Sintering, uses a laser to fuse particles of plastic powder, building a model out as new layers of powder is laid over the model.
Naturally, with SLS, a lot of the powder isn’t turned into a model, and Fuse 1 has been built to be mindful of this wastage. Formlabs is also selling the Fuse Sift, which will pull out and clean the unused power, enabling it to be re-used in a future build. The hope is that more than 70 percent of the Nylon can be re-used, dramatically cutting down on waste and keeping costs down.
Unfortunately, the Formlabs Fuse 1 is not yet the sort of thing you’ll be able to afford unless you own your own design firm. It’s priced at $18,499, while the Fuse Sift will set you back another $9,000.