Tech Crunch reported from Formlabs’ Digital Factory Conference in the middle of last month. Among the announcements made, the 3D printing company has stated they will be entering the 3D printing for manufacturing market.
Formlabs Founder and CEO Max Lobovsky says that “around 95-percent of Formlabs’ existing customers are professional…these next steps for the company make a push into direct manufacturing and the embrace of a 3D printing technology long out of reach for most startups.”
The Form 1 and 2 3D printers were designed to be used in the prototyping world. However, in recent years, both machines have begun creeping into the world of biomedical devices. “Lobovsky estimates some five-million people around the globe have used products created on a Formlabs 3D printer, with companies like Invisalign Dental making up the biggest chunk of that market share.”
While it’s not quite mass manufacturing yet – Formlabs is clearly well on its way. That’s why they’ve announced the Form Cell System, “to mark the beginning of scalability for their desktop offering. The principle of the system is…essentially a bunch of 3D printers networked into a single system…Form Cell is an array of up to five connected Form 2s, plus the company’s new Wash and Cure systems…the whole process can be controlled remotely.” This allows companies to cut their 3D printing costs.
“New Balance will be one of the first companies to take advantage of the new small-scale manufacturing. Starting next year, the athletic shoe maker will be using Formlabs’ system to create custom 3D printed footwear…it’s a step beyond the current biomedical applications for 3D printing, but one which still benefits from customization.”
As Lobovsky concludes: “investors, press, everyone was obsessed with the mass consumer thing. If there’s one area we’ve lost to MakerBot and 3D Systems, it’s in terms of press. Now everyone is talking about mass production: ‘We’re going to produce millions of parts!’ But it’s not going to be random plastic bits in a car. It’s where 3D printing has a unique edge. It is going to impact people, it just might be in slightly creepy [i.e. dental drilling] applications.”
Image and Quotes Courtesy of Tech Crunch