I have been exploring the possibility of purchasing either a B9 or a Form 1 over the past few weeks. I have not seen ANY side by side comparisons of the Form 1 vs. the B9, so I figured I would do one myself.
Please opine and educate me if you know something I don’t!
My background: I work in the toy industry and specialize in packaging and action figure design along with my business partner. We have employed the cutting edge of 3d printing technology in our projects. The goal of this test was to explore how a consumer grade / pro-sumer 3d printing device can be integrated into a pro workflow. Is such a thing even possible?
The test file: Since we specialize in collectible figures and action figures we used a 3.5” bust as our benchmark geometry. This sculpture features fine hair detail, facial anatomy, and skin carvings.
The files were printed on the following machines:
**ULTRA 3 **from Envision $34-$50k depending on configuration, the Ultra3 is used as a reference for a professional 3d printer and offers stunning quality far above the Form 1 or B9. B9 $5K fully assembled **Form 1 **$3300
**Verdict: ** It’s a tie between the Form 1 and the B9. The form 1 actually displayed better detail in the hair and subtle forms, but lost the winning position due to strong unsightly horizontal distortion. Another quirk consisted of strange vertical stretching in the overall head shape. I don’t know if this is a FORM 1 defect or simply operator error. The B-9 was a home run at first but upon closer examination there are strange horizontal build lines. From what I have read on these forums the machine that printed the bust was either assembled wrong or is an early version of the B9 printer.
CONSCLUSION: Now here is the question… Can they replace a $45k machine? The fact that I can even pose such a question is a testament to the genius of both Form 1 Labs and the B9 team. The future is bright for 3d printing! Ok, so the answer is…Yes and no. These machines can be a great tool for a shop that wants to take the load off an expensive higher end machine. A small studio can develop prototypes and debug them BEFORE purchasing expensive professional prints
In the case of toy development, these machines are great for run and gun toy samples. Consider the case of a sales rep that needs clean, durable painted sales samples. With minimal to moderate cleanup, both machines can fill that space. You can even develop “photo finish” models depending on available time. One must take care to print heads and hands at higher resolutions and minimize support structures to reduce post processing.
Sadly, neither of these machines are production ready for the demanding needs of the collectible toy industry.
After heated discussions on the matter my partner and I came to the following conclusion. The only scenario where we can make these printers work professionally is through an interim solution. In this type of workflow we would use the B-9 / Form 1 prints as a kind of detailed wax sculpture. We would mold, cast in wax and refine the wax casting until we retrieve any detail lost in the printing. For small studios looking to expand into digital sculpting without breaking the bank, this is good enough. If you are already a traditional sculptor who works in wax anyway then this is a no brainer. You can save yourself hours of time by developing digital figures very fast in your 3d modeling app of choice. If you are developing a portfolio and are fine with the extra labor associated with producing photo finish models you will be very happy.
Of course all of this is just opinion but it comes from experience in my market and would be happy to communicate with folks who are willing to run off a test print for me, I pay for prints and I pay fast!
Here is an album with all the images, the sculpt with the consistent horizontal lines is the B9 print.