Big news came from Formlabs a couple of months ago, when the company announced that it would be releasing its first SLS 3D printer, the Fuse 1, along with an automated production system called Form Cell. The announcements were made at a one-day conference called the Digital Factory, an event that was held at MIT and focused on digital manufacturing. The event was a success – so much so that the Digital Factory is now being made into a permanent fixture, a platform for designers, engineers, and anyone else involved in digital manufacturing in any form.
The Digital Factory will be directed by Jon Bruner, who comes to Formlabs after serving in several positions at emerging technology company O’Reilly Media, most recently Strategic Content Director, AI & Data. Bruner has a strong interest in artificial intelligence, and plans to carry that focus into his work at Formlabs.
“I’m going to stay current on AI: generative AI is a radical development in the field of design, and 3D printing is the best way to realize the exotic, precisely-tuned shapes that generative design algorithms create,” Bruner says.
While at O’Reilly Media, Bruner was responsible for launching the Solid Conference, a 2014 event focused on the growing overlap between hardware and software. He was also a speaker at the Digital Factory conference, which placed special emphasis on the role of artificial intelligence in manufacturing, in addition to technologies such as 3D printing. The two technologies – AI and 3D printing – intersect more often than not nowadays, and Formlabs demonstrated its growing interest in AI and automation with the introduction of Form Cell, an end-to-end production system that automates every stage of the 3D printing process, including the traditionally manual stages such as part removal and post-processing.
The hiring of Bruner, who has a strong background of expertise in AI, further shows that Formlabs is committed to developing systems that combine the newest artificial intelligence and automation technology with the newest 3D printing technology. Formlabs has always been ahead of its time when it comes to 3D printing, being the first company to introduce SLA 3D printing on a desktop level; now it is putting its energy into the next era of 3D printing: automated 3D printing. The launch of the Digital Factory as a platform is evidence that Formlabs plans to continue to be at the forefront of advanced 3D printing technology and its intersection with AI and automation.
“This is a special moment in the development of the 3D printing field in general and for Formlabs in particular,” says Bruner. “3D printers have become standard tools in prototyping, where they’ve made development faster and easier, and now they’re becoming common in production…The company’s forthcoming Form Cell turns a cluster of Form 2 printers into an efficient, lights-out automated production system. Formlabs has the vision, the technical creativity, and the market position to turn additive manufacturing into a universal process.”
Bruner will be beginning his position at Formlabs in September. Until then, he plans to take a month off to work on some personal projects in artificial intelligence, digital fabrication and solid modeling. Discuss in the Formlabs forum at 3DPB.com.
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