Formlabs

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Formlabs
Industry3D printing/Stereolithography/Selective laser sintering
FoundedSeptember 2011
FounderMaxim Lobovsky, David Cranor, and Natan Linder
HeadquartersSomerville, Massachusetts, United States
Websiteformlabs.com

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+, and Form 2 stereolithography 3D printers.[1]

History[edit]

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 November 2012, Formlabs was sued by the industrial 3D printing giant 3D Systems that claimed rights to the stereolithography technology that the Form 1 uses.[2]

In October 2013, Formlabs closed an additional $19 million Series A round of financing led by DFJ Growth, joined by Pitango Venture Capital, Innovation Endeavors, and returning angel investors.[3]

In 2015, Formlabs opened their second office in Berlin, Germany.[4] In August 2015, Michael Sorkin, former co-founder of iGo3D, joined Formlabs to serve as the managing director of their European headquarters.[5]

In May 2016, Formlabs acquired online 3D printing community and marketplace Pinshape.[6]

In August 2016, Formlabs raised $35 million in series B funding led by Foundry Group.[7]

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.[8]

In April 2018, Formlabs raised $30 million in series C funding led by Tyche Partners, with investors including the municipally-owned Shenzhen Capital Group.[9] The company said it would use the funding to expand its product portfolio and scale operations to meet increasing customer demand, particularly from Asia.[10]

Products[edit]

Form 1[edit]

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[11] making the Form 1 one of the most highly funded crowdfunding projects of all time. Form 1 3D printers began shipping to backers in May 2013 after months of delayed production.[12][13] 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.

Form 1+[edit]

Form 1+

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.[14] The Form 1+ was officially sunsetted March 15, 2017.

Form 2[edit]

Form 2

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.[15]

Form Wash and Form Cure[edit]

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.[16][17]

Fuse 1[edit]

On 5 June 2017, Formlabs announced the Fuse 1, a selective laser sintering 3D printer. It has a much larger build volume, a removable build chamber, and uses nylon powder.[18]

Form Cell[edit]

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".[19]

PreForm[edit]

Formlabs provides a free software package called PreForm, designed to prepare 3D models for printing on the Form 1, Form 1+, Form 2, and Fuse 1. Some of the features of PreForm include automatic model orientation and support structure generation.[20]

Materials[edit]

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.[21]

Documentary[edit]

Formlabs is featured in Print the Legend,[1] 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[22] on September 26, 2014.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Formlabs, a leader in desktop 3D printing". Tech Gen Mag. 8 November 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  2. ^ "3D Systems Sues Formlabs and Kickstarter for Patent Infringement". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  3. ^ "Formlabs, maker of desktop 3D printers, collects $19 million in fresh funding". Boston.com. 24 October 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Formlabs doubles staff and expands distribution network in Europe". TCT Magazine. 2015-12-10. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  5. ^ "iGo3D's Michael Sorkin Takes Over as Formlabs' EU Lead | 3DPrint.com | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing". 3dprint.com. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
  6. ^ "Pinshape | crunchbase". www.crunchbase.com. Retrieved 2018-02-22.
  7. ^ "Formlabs raises $35 million series B, announces Autodesk partnership". TechCrunch. August 4, 2016. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  8. ^ "Formlabs sunsets the Form 1+". Formlabs.com. 15 March 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  9. ^ Dawson, Shawn (July 5, 2018). "The AI arms race: the tech fear behind Donald Trump's trade war with China". The Financial Times. 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.
  10. ^ Heater, Brian (April 23, 2018). "Formlabs scores another $30 million in funding". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on April 23, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  11. ^ "FORM 1: An affordable, professional 3D printer". Kickstarter. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  12. ^ "Formlabs ships first Form 1 3D printer, Kickstarter backers should see theirs next week". Engadget. 17 May 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  13. ^ "Watch Print the Legend Online | Netflix". www.netflix.com. Retrieved 2016-12-31.
  14. ^ "Formlabs reveals the Form 1+, a faster and more reliable SLA 3D printer". Gigaom. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  15. ^ "Form 2: Desktop Stereolithography (SLA) 3D Printer". Formlabs. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  16. ^ "Form Wash and Form Cure: Automated Post-Processing". Formlabs. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  17. ^ "Form Wash and Form Cure: Professional Post-Processing". Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  18. ^ "Fuse 1: Benchtop Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D Printer". Formlabs. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  19. ^ "Form Cell: Automated 3D Printing Solutions". Formlabs. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  20. ^ "PreForm Software: Prepare Your Models for Printing | Formlabs". formlabs.com. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  21. ^ "Materials -- Formlabs". Formlabs. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  22. ^ "Netflix Acquires 3D Printing Documentary 'Print the Legend'". Variety. Retrieved 20 July 2014.

External links[edit]