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Can an expert in 3D printing compare this with, say, the MakerBot Replicator 2? How does the extruder technology compare with SL on resolution, hardness, speed of printing, etc?

Lithography printing from what I've seen so far is significantly better than extruder tech. We have a Projet 1500 and an original Makerbot at my hackerspace (Columbus Idea Foundry). The Projet absolutely kills the makerbot for resolution and jitter. If you made a sphere on the projet, it will be pretty damn smooth. On the Makerbot (original) it will have a strong texture to it. No experience with Replicator 2.

Yet, its also around 10x as expensive to run (ABS is cheap, whereas the liquid stuff is expensive). It also takes a lot more room (there's separate machines for a drying/curing thing). The resolution on the Projet 1500 (which isnt the best one in the world, just what we have) is pretty limited at like 1024x768 since it uses a projector instead of a laser. I'm thinking the laser might allow for finer resolution, but I'm not sure.

Also, our Projet machine won't operate (like, at all) if its above 75F. Most of our hackerspace is un-airconditioned in a warehouse, so that just doesn't work. We had to get an AC and put it in an office. Extruder machines just don't care.

I haven't used the Replicator 2, but the replicator looks promising. At the same time, if the Formlabs ones does as it says, then its a HUGE move forward as its around 1/10th the price of something like our Projet 1500.

This looks pretty exciting initially. If I had the money- I'd consider buying one.

I've been putting off going to Columbus Idea Foundry, but with all the cool tech there I might just have to get my membership.

I'd highly encourage you to come by for a tour, and sign up for a class before jumping into membership. Not that membership just right away is bad, but doing this will give you a better idea of if the place is a good fit for you and your needs. Send me a PM if you'd like a tour or hit up our contact info on the main website.

I put together a small comparison chart in this post: http://www.wired.com/design/2012/09/formlabs-creates-a-low-c...

Looking at the Replicator2 specs vs Formlabs. I see that Makerbot lists layer height and XY resolution as 100 microns, while Formlabs has layer height as 25 microns, but XY as 300 microns. Does the improvement in layer height matter much when the XY resolution isn't as accurate? What I'm basically wondering is are you only as good your least accurate spec?

I think you are comparing apples to oranges. The replicator is reporting the positioning accuracy of the gantry system, while Form labs is reporting something like the voxel size of the print laser.

Ask a question like, what is the smallest diameter vertical column that can be printed to 1 inch in height. The answer for form labs is probably like 1000 microns, and Makerbox it like 3000 microns.

Good question - It probably comes down to the limitation of the parts - that said, no current FFF 3-D printer could match the detail of the Neptune figuring. That trident would basically be impossible. At some point the models do a better job explaining than the stats.

I've seen some answers to your questions with regards to resolution, etc., but none to the part that is of interest to me: how does the PLA/ABS plastic of the Replicator 2/2X compare to the SLA, once printed, in terms of durability?

I've had SLA models professionally made, and they came with a warning to handle them gently, because they were brittle and not very strong (and, they were expensive).

Does anyone know, if you were to use the Form 1 for something like hobby robotics (i.e., outside of just design prototyping, but as a printer for parts), would it hold up well?

There's an interesting discussion about the MakerBot 2 going on at Practical Machinist by people with considerably more manufacturing experience/knowledge than the average HN'er.


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