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Formlabs Fuse 1 – SLS 3D Printer Review

Formlabs Fuse 1 SLS 3D Printer

Formlabs have just released their new addition to their portfolio of printers, the Formlabs Fuse 1 SLS 3D printer, branded as the world’s first benchtop industrial Selective Laser Sintering 3D Printer. After years of teasers and constant pushbacks, on 26th January 2021, they announced to the world that their newest addition would be shipping almost immediately in Q1 2021. Not only this, but they also announced the Fuse Sift, which completes the whole SLS 3D Printing eco-system providing users with a straightforward end-to-end SLS workflow.

Engineers and large manufacturers have long trusted SLS technology for its ability to functional prototypes and end-use parts. Still, its high cost and complex workflow have historically confined it to large companies. The Fuse 1 and Fuse Sift improve on the unique advantages offered by SLS while bringing it within reach for companies of all sizes and types through unprecedented affordability and ease of use. 

Naturally, we at SGD 3D we’re keen to invest in this new addition to the Formlabs product line, and after several weeks of putting it through its paces at our on-demand 3D printing service, we’ve done a review!

Easy to Use Interface

Using the machine is simple, thanks to Formlabs detailed support articles. The user interface has simple to follow, step-by-step onboarding so that new users can be trained on operating the 3D printer correctly. The user interface has built-in controls and readouts, with a helpful preview / live display of the progress of the current print.

Compared to other similar priced SLS 3D printers, the Fuse 1 is the most straightforward and well-designed solution on the market. The Fuse 1 has swappable chambers, making unloading/loading jobs quick and seamless. Perfect for high-throughput working environments such as; on-demand 3D printing services, factories, etc.

The Fuse Sift material handling station makes handling, cleaning, and recycling powder simple. The hooded enclosure and built-in vacuum system capture any loose airborne powder making clean-up a safe process for the user. Using the built-in vibro sift, spent material can be easily recycled, and Formlabs highly recommends using a 30% refresh rate as their materials have been tailored for this value.

Materials Available

At the time of editing this article (23rd August 2022), Formlabs has since expanded its catalogue of materials for the Formlabs Fuse 1 / Fuse 1+ SLS 3D printer to include Nylon PA11, Nylon PA11-CF, Nylon PA12 and Nylon PA12-GF. These exciting new materials unlock extra capabilities whether it’s extra strength or anti-static properties.

Bad Points About the Formlabs Fuse 1

The downside of printing with this SLS 3D printer is the by-product Laurolactam. This white misty substance is easy to clean up with an ATEX rated vacuum cleaner, or for stubborn patches we use a pec pad soaked in Ethanol. Formlabs helps users keep on track cleaning their machine with scheduled maintenance tasks via the user interface. For example after 150 hours, you’re reminded to clean the air filter. This maintenance task is simple to carry out, thanks to the user interfaces step-by-step guides with diagrams to follow along.

What is Laurolactam?

Laurolactam is a by product from sintering Nylon powder, this collects onto the printer's various components in the print enclosure and air system.

In comparison to other powder fusion technologies, the Formlabs Fuse 1 has a smaller build envelope. However, for this price point, capacity can easily be increased by acquiring additional machines which is ideal for print bureaus looking to get parts produced efficiently. 

Included Software

The only downside to the Formlabs Fuse 1 3D printer is that the included Preform software is limited in its functionality compared to Materialise Magics, Autodesk Netfabb, etc. Further improvements could be made to improve the 3D nesting functionality and also possible include package/cage creation. 

Nylon PA12 Parts, SLS 3D Printing Service

Conclusion

Overall, the Formlabs Fuse 1 is a great SLS 3D printer. Any issues we’ve encountered have been quickly rectified by their support team and so far we’ve found it to be an excellent investment. We strongly recommend purchasing at least two build chambers, otherwise, they take hours to cool down and you could lose an entire day waiting for a build chamber to free up. 

Need SLS parts? If the Formlabs Fuse 1 is out of your price bracket or you’re looking for one-off Nylon PA12 SLS parts then get in touch with our team today. Our professional, on-demand 3D printing service is able to deal with any enquiry not matter how small or big!

Do you have a 3D printing project we can help with? Please get in touch

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Sam Gribben

Managing Director at SGD 3D Limited

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