Formlabs Announces First SLS 3D Printer Along with Form Cell Automated Production System

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Formlabs is famous for SLA 3D printing, having introduced the technology to the desktop with the release of the Form 1 3D printer in 2012. Since then, the company has gone on to become one of the best-known, most well-respected companies in the industry, with the Form 2 regularly appearing on lists of best/most popular 3D printers. Today, Formlabs has taken a big step out of the realm of SLA 3D printing with the announcement that they will be releasing their first selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printer, the Fuse 1.

Starting at $9,999, the Fuse 1 is 20 times less expensive than the cheapest SLS 3D printers on the market today. The complete package, which includes the printer, a post-processing station with material recovery, an extra build piston for continuous usage, and initial material load, is priced at $19,999.

Available materials include Nylon PA 12 and PA 11, the industry standard for strong, functional prototypes and end-use parts. According to Formlabs, Fuse 1 parts meet or exceed the material properties published by their industrial counterparts.

Several companies have already been testing the Fuse 1, including major corporations like Google.

“SLS technology enables designers and engineers to accelerate their prototyping process by combining realistic material properties with the minimization of 3D printing design constraints,” said David Beardsley, manager of Google ATAP Skunkworks. “With the Fuse 1, a combination of high precision parts, reduced cycle time and robust materials allow teams to easily iterate throughout the design process and accelerate from whiteboard to final parts.”

A Fuse 1-produced hand splint

The Fuse 1 was announced today at the Digital Factory conference, which is being held at MIT Media Lab. That’s not the only major announcement Formlabs has, though – they’re also introducing Form Cell, an automated production solution that leverages the Form 2.

“When we launched the world’s first desktop stereolithography 3D printer in 2012, Formlabs created new possibilities for designers and engineers to create physical products by giving them access to professional 3D printing technology that had historically been unavailable,” said Max Lobovsky, CEO of Formlabs. “With Fuse 1, we are taking the same approach to making powerful SLS technology available to a huge range of customers. And with Form Cell, we are making an efficient, scalable production solution by leveraging the Form 2, an SLA print engine that’s already stood the test of printing more than 10 million parts.”

Form Cell consists of a row of Form 2 3D printers, the recently introduced Form Wash part washer and Form Cure curing station, and an industrial robotic gantry system. Form Cell automates the manual parts of the 3D printing process for a hands-off, lights-out digital factory. It’s optimized for the lowest cost per part, allowing business ROI in months instead of years. Users will be able to reduce labor and downtime as no check-ins are required. Features include print job scheduling and error detection, as well as remote monitoring and part and serial number printing.

Form Cell is also factory-ready, with API endpoints for integration with industry-standard business systems such as CRM, ERP, and MES, as well as homegrown systems. It can easily be made part of your existing workflow.

“By enabling teams to easily iterate and also to directly manufacture final products, Fuse 1 and Form Cell open up a wealth of innovation flexibility within the product development cycle, from early prototyping to manufacturing,” said Dávid Lakatos, chief product officer of Formlabs.

Finally, in a separate announcement, New Balance revealed that they will be partnering with Formlabs. The two companies will be developing footwear-specific materials and printers for the creation of high-performance products. The announcement comes shortly after Carbon and Adidas partnered to produce the first partially 3D printed athletic shoe at scale, and now New Balance and Formlabs, both based in Boston, appear to be bringing their own large-scale production of 3D printed athletic shoes to the market. Continuous production at New Balance’s facility is expected to begin in 2018.

“New Balance is excited to work with fellow Boston-based Formlabs on our next evolution in 3D printing,” said Rob DeMartini, New Balance President and CEO. “We have been a leader with 3D printing technology for many years, when we were the first to bring customized spike plates to our professional runners and have expanded into other sports since then. Now we look forward to taking this technology to consumers to further improve athlete performance.”

“We’re proud to work with New Balance to provide cutting-edge 3D printing technologies for large-scale domestic manufacturing,” added Lobovsky. “3D printing gives companies the ability to provide higher performance, better fitting, and more personalized products. With New Balance, we are demonstrating that it can be done at scale for consumer goods.”

To learn more about Fuse 1 and Form Cell, watch the videos below:

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