Prototyping and Mold-making with the Formlabs SLA Printer

The LHC is focused on refining our processes and model shop with cutting edge machines and custom tools and devices.

The Form 2 3D printer has been stationed in the LHC for the past year and a half, and in that time, it has significantly increased our rapid prototyping capabilities. The Form 2 is an SLA printer capable of producing high resolution, intricate parts in a wide range of materials. We’ve included a few examples to get your creative juices flowing:

We utilized Formlabs’ High Temp resin to create the compression mold shown above. This material is able to withstand extremely high temperatures – much higher than the 400°F used to mold the mouthguard shown below.

The components below were printed using Formlabs’ tough resin, a resilient material that mimics ABS. The Form 2 was perfectly suited for producing the highly detailed logos, as well as the complex electromechanical systems (locking buttons, knobs that pop out and rotate) involved in this project. Once the parts were printed, they were painted gray. The final touch was the addition of a soft, rubberized grip – printed using Formlabs’ flexible resin – mounted to the knob in the top right image.

We’ve also used the Form 2 to print masters for creating molds. The photo below shows the printed master (black) and the silicone mold that was created from it (blue). To make the mold, the master is placed in a box, and a liquid silicone solution is poured over it. Once the silicone cures, the master is removed, and new parts can be cast into the empty mold. We required a mold that could produce castings with smooth surfaces and organic curvature, and this is exactly what we got using the printed master.


Although the Form 2 produces quality parts, it does have its issues. We’ve had multiple machine malfunctions, which resulted in extended printer downtime. We’ve worked with Formlabs to resolve these issues, both by sending the printer in for repairs and by receiving parts to perform repairs on our own. Our printer is now officially back online, and we’re looking forward to continued production of quality parts!


About the Author


Little Harbor Collective is a local incubator and maker space located just outside Boston, MA. It provides a professional environment for creativity and innovation with resources and equipment used by Tool., Inc.