Video: A Closer Look at the Formlabs Fuse 1 Desktop SLS 3D Printer
James Anderton posted on May 22, 2018 |
The Fuse 1 is an inexpensive solution for quick turn functional parts in nylon 12.

Jim Anderton: I'm with Eduardo Torrealba, director of engineering for SLS at Formlabs. We’re standing in front of a new machine from Formlabs, called the Fuse 1. Eduardo, tell me about this.

Eduardo Torrealba: This is a selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printer. It’s a powder bed fusion process. The user takes nylon spheres that are about 50 microns in diameter, and loads those up in the hopper, and they're dispensed into the machine where they're spread out into an even layer. The spheres heat up just below the melting temperature, and then we use a fiber laser to fuse those particles together into a flat sheet.  Then the bed drops down, it drops more particles and those are fused together in the x and y dimensions, then also in z.  The machine builds up a part one layer at a time. At the end of the print, you can remove the build volume from the machine, dump all the powder out, brush the parts off and they're ready to use. You end up making these strong, flexible, durable end-use nylon 3D printed parts.

JA: That’s interesting. In terms of nylon, our viewers know polyamides pretty well. Are we talking about nylon 6, nylon 66?

ET: It’s a nylon 12 actually. Nylon 12 is the most common material for SLS 3d printing: it’s about 90 to 95% of all parts that are produced at service bureaus right now are done with nylon 12. So, we’re looking to provide a machine that has the exact same sort of mechanical properties, such as material finish and dimensional accuracy, that you can expect from a service bureau-printed part on the Fuse 1.

JA: Is the Fuse 1 aimed at service bureaus, or for in-house production? What’s the target market?

ET: It's really aimed at anyone who wants to have SLS 3D printing in-house. So, we've been in conversations with smaller service bureaus, larger service bureaus, they’re certainly interested in the technology as a way to do know fast turn parts. You can print something faster in this machine just in terms of turnaround time. You don't need to pack as many parts into the build volume to utilize it. Anyone who wants to bring SLS technology in-house is really interested in the technology as well, because the Fuse 1 is only ten thousand dollars, which is a fraction of the cost of a traditional SLS printer.

JA: Ten thousand seems extraordinarily cheap for a machine like this.

ET: Right, exactly!

JA: how big is the build envelope?

ET: It’s about 6 by 6 by 12 inches, or 165 cm by 165 cm by about 300 cm.

JA: That’s a considerable build volume. Do you expect users to make multiple parts—ten up, twelve up?

ET: Yes. So, if you look on the screen here, we have a few couplings that we designed for one of our other products, the Form cure, and a lot of these pieces are in here in one go. You can pack tens or hundreds of parts in that build volume, print all of those, remove the build volume, put a new one in and then keep running the machine.

JA: Strictly nylon 12 right now?

ET: Yes. SLS in general has nylon 12, nylon 11, polypropylenes, TPUs… there are a few other powders out there. We're planning to do the same thing with the Fuse 1that we’ve done with the Form 2, which is to launch with one material that sort of covers most of the bases and then we'll be introducing more materials over time and adding to that library for our customers as the product develops.

JA: Laser SLS 3D printing with a big build volume at a surprisingly affordable price says Eduardo Torrealba at Formlabs.

Image courtesy of Formlabs.
Image courtesy of Formlabs.

For more information, check out Formlabs website.

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