In 2019, Formlabs, a 3D printing unicorn, introduced two new professional systems equipped with the company’s take on stereolithography, dubbed low force stereolithography (LFS). These were the desktop Form 3 and the large-format Form 3L. Not long after, the company launched its new dental unit, complete with the novel Form 3B printer.
Today, Formlabs is announcing its latest hardware additions, which will increase the company’s current line of large-format systems. First, the new Form 3BL is a medical and dental system that’s been optimized for use with biocompatible materials.
Formlabs was already well-versed in 3D printed dental applications and provides a number of dental AM materials. At AMS 2020, Sam Wainwright, Dental Product Manager for Formlabs, predicted that within the next decade, “everything in dental will be 3D printed.” The dental team at Formlabs has validated the Form 3BL, ensuring that it meets all of the requirements for producing accurate dental aligners with consistent, repeatable part quality. Additionally, Formlabs says that this new system is able to fabricate human-scale anatomical models on one build platform. In a press release, the company states that the Form 3BL “balances throughput, quality, and reliability,” and allows healthcare providers to print biocompatible, high-quality, customized surgical guides within a tight timeframe.
Additionally, Formlabs has launched a fully automated post-processing system, called the Wash L + Cure L, which can be used with large-scale prints. However, the new system, which I’m assuming is an updated version of the company’s existing Form Wash and Form Cure, will not begin shipping until 2021.
In other Formlabs news, the company is now starting to ship its large-format Form 3L printer to customers. Its LFS technology, which is basically an advanced form of Formlabs’ previous SLA method, uses a flexible tank to reduce the forces of the peel process, in order to create consistently accurate, detailed parts with tear-away supports for a smoother finish. The Form 3L has two times the laser power of the Form 3, and five times its build volume. The same is true of the new 3BL.
These features are what made the 3D printer worth it to outdoor equipment company Black Diamond, a Formlabs customer. The company was given early access to the 3L, and used it to revamp its R&D process, cutting costs by 85% and reducing prototype development lead times from seven days to just three.
“The Form 3L makes the product design process more cohesive. The larger printer enables our designers to make tweaks in CAD and work off a full-scale model to close the gap between feedback and design,” said Black Diamond R&D technician Matt Tetzl. “We have reduced our costs on full-size prototypes from $425 a print to $70 a print – with that savings, Form 3L would pay for itself in only 3 months.”
Purported benefits of both the Form 3L and the new Form 3BL include:
- a 33.5 × 20 × 30 cm build volume
- end-to-end system designed for nonstop throughput with little intervention
- intuitive workflow with automatic resin dispensing, simple print preparation software, and easy-to-use interface
- access to almost all of Formlabs’ materials, including the biocompatible varieties, which ensures a strong and stable supply chain
“Our large format printers are poised to have the same disruptive effect on the 3D printing industry as our Form 1 launch did. The companies that have dominated large format printing for the past 20+ years have lacked the innovation and agility needed to move the 3D printing industry forward. At Formlabs, we are changing that,” stated Max Lobovsky, CEO and Co-Founder of Formlabs. “With the Form 3L and Form 3BL, we are opening this powerful technology up to a whole new group of users at an accessible price while maintaining a professional quality. We are looking forward to seeing how this new technology will be used in industries like automotive and aerospace that need the large build platform to best utilize 3D printing.”
The new Form 3BL 3D printer is now available for pre-order, and will begin shipping in October of 2020.
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