This article needs to be updated.March 2020)(
Form 2 printer
|Industry||3D printing/Stereolithography/Selective laser sintering|
|Founder||Maxim Lobovsky, David Cranor, and Natan Linder|
Formlabs is a 3D printing technology developer and manufacturer. The Somerville, Massachusetts-based company was founded in September 2011 by three MIT Media Lab students. The company develops and manufactures 3D printers and related software and consumables. It is most known for raising nearly $3 million in a Kickstarter campaign and creating the Form 1, Form 1+, Form 2, Form Cell, Form 3, Form 3L, and Fuse 1 stereolithography and selective laser sintering 3D printers.
Formlabs was founded by Maxim Lobovsky, Natan Linder, and David Cranor, who met as students at the MIT Media Lab while taking a class called "How to Make (almost) Anything". The founders also drew on their experience with MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms Fab Lab program, as well as Lobovsky's experience with the Fab@Home project at Cornell University.
Formlabs was officially founded in September 2011 to develop the first desktop-sized, easy-to-use, and affordable stereolithography 3D printer. Formlabs received early seed funding from investors including Mitch Kapor, Joi Ito, and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors.
In 2015, Formlabs opened their second office in Berlin, Germany. In August 2015, Michael Sorkin, former co-founder of iGo3D, joined Formlabs to serve as the managing director of their European headquarters.
In March 2017, Formlabs announced that the Form 1+ was officially sold out and they would not continue to produce the Form +1, instead shifting all focus on shipping Form 2 printers.
In April 2018, Formlabs raised $30 million in series C funding led by Tyche Partners, with investors including the municipally-owned Shenzhen Capital Group. The company said it would use the funding to expand its product portfolio and scale operations to meet increasing customer demand, particularly from Asia.
In October 2012, Formlabs publicly announced its first product, the Form 1 3D printer, in a Kickstarter campaign that raised a record breaking $2.95 million in funding making the Form 1 one of the most highly funded crowdfunding projects up until that time. Form 1 3D printers began shipping to backers in May 2013 after months of delayed production. The Form 1 used a 3D printing process known as stereolithography, wherein liquid resin is cured, or hardened, into a solid material by the application of laser light. Although previously available in larger, more expensive machines, the Form 1 offered stereolithography in a smaller, more affordable desktop-class device.
On June 10, 2014, Formlabs released the Form 1+ 3D Printer, which replaced the Form 1 in their product line. Improvements included speed, print quality, and reliability. The Form 1+ was officially sunsetted March 15, 2017.
On 22 September 2015, Formlabs announced the Form 2 printer, including a larger build volume and a wiper. It also switches to a cartridge resin system, instead of bottles that needed to be manually poured into the Form 1 & Form 1+. Third-party resins can be used with Open Mode. The Form 2 was named Best Resin Printer for 2019 by Tom's Guide in their annual rankings.
Form Wash and Form Cure
On 5 May 2017, Formlabs announced the Form Wash and the Form Cure. Together with the Form 2, they complete the SLA engine. The Form Wash is an washing machine used to automatically clean liquid resin off of printed 3D models. The Form Cure is an ultraviolet postcuring system. After printing, the build platform on the Form 2 can be removed and installed on the Form Wash, which uses an impeller to agitate 3D printed parts in isopropyl alcohol. The Form Cure heats parts up to 80 degrees Celsius and uses thirteen 405 nanometer UV LEDs.
Form 3, Form 3B and Form 3L
On 2 April 2019, Formlabs announced the 4th and 5th iteration of their SLA printers, the Form 3 and Form 3L, designed for use by artists, designers, and other professionals. The Form 3 offers a larger print area than the Form 2 as well as Low Force Stereolithography (LFS), a new SLA technology developed by Formlabs that promises smoother surface finish and more detailed prints. The Form 3L utilizes the same optics engine as the Form 3, including LFS, with five times the build volume. Additional improvements include an upgraded optics engine, modular components to simplify repair and integrated sensors to improve print success and usability. This earned it the title of Best Resin Printer of 2019 by The Mediahq.
On 12 November 2019, Formlabs launched the Form 3B, a variant of the Form 3 specially designed for the dental industry. Unlike the Form 3, the Form 3B is compatible with Formlabs' array of specialty dental materials.
On 5 June 2017, Formlabs announced the Form Cell, a cell of Form 2 3D printers, as well as a Form Wash and a robotic gantry system. It is completely automated and can be used as a 24-hour digital "factory".
Formlabs provides a free software package called PreForm, designed to prepare 3D models for printing on the Form 1, Form 1+, Form 2, Form 3, and Fuse 1. Some of the features of PreForm include automatic model orientation and support structure generation.
Formlabs currently sells several resins for their stereolithography printers (Form 1, Form 1+, and Form 2). Their general-purpose hard plastic resin is available in four colors: clear, white, grey, black. In addition, the company sells multiple specialty resins: a resin specialized for casting, a flexible resin, a tough resin, a rigid resin, a high-definition structural resin and a Class 1 biocompatible resin for intraoral surgical guides. They also sell a Class IIa clear biocompatible resin for orthodontic devices. Formlabs sells the resin cartridges used for printing on the Form 2.
Formlabs is featured in Print the Legend, a documentary that tells the stories of several leading companies in the desktop 3D printer industry. The film premiered at SXSW in March, 2014, and was released internationally on Netflix on September 26, 2014.
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The result, announced by the company in May, was a $30m investment from a group that included Shenzhen Capital Group, a venture capital firm launched in the late 1990s by the southern city’s municipal government.
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