Desktop stereolithography leader Formlabs has announced the Form 3BL, a new large-format 3D printer designed for biocompatible, medical and dental applications.
The system builds on the company’s Low Force Stereolithography process, a “completely re-engineered” approach to its popular SLA technology, which launched last year and saw the introduction of Formlabs’ first large-format system, the Form 3L.
The 3L begins shipping today from 10,999 USD in an effort to open this “powerful technology up to a whole new group of users at an accessible price while maintaining a professional quality,” according to Formlabs Co-founder and CEO Max Lobovsky. One customer, outdoor equipment company Black Diamond, has reportedly already reduced its prototyping lead times from seven days to three, and costs by about 85%, after being given early access to the Form 3L.
Elaborating on the company’s large-format 3D printing ambitions in a recent interview for an upcoming episode of the Additive Insight podcast, Lobovsky told TCT: “We were able to really use the same technology that’s in the Form 3 and, in a pretty straightforward way, build it into a larger system. This is letting us do what we did to the smaller format SLA market to the larger format market, where today, you can’t really get a large-format professional system for less than $100,000 to $200,000 range. We’re introducing something for about $10,000 and that’s a dramatically different price point that’s going to make big high-resolution parts accessible to many more people.”
The Form 3L and new Form 3BL feature a build volume of 33.5 × 20 × 30 cm, fives time the size of the standard desktop Form 3, and intuitive features such as automatic resin dispensing and simple print preparation software presented in a straightforward interface. The machines are compatible with the majority of Formlabs resins, which also includes a range of biocompatible materials on the Form 3BL.
The Form 3BL is Formlabs’ second dental-focused machine after the Form 3B which launched November last year alongside a new dental business unit and dental-specific materials. The Form 3BL is said to balance “throughput, quality, and reliability” and has been validated by Formlabs’ dental team to meet stringent accuracy requirements for dental aligner production. For wider healthcare settings, Formlabs says the Form 3BL is ideal for 3D printing scale anatomical models in a single build or producing custom surgical guides.
“In the last few years, it became possible for even an individual dental practice to do the scanning, software and printing,” Lobovsky continued, speaking about Formlabs’ focus on the dental market. “For us to make that possible and to be successful in that market, we had to adapt a lot because, in general, we’re kind of oriented as a horizontal technology company where we make a piece of technology that can be applied to many different applications and we focus on doing our piece of the puzzle well, but in dental, customers expect much more of a complete system. They don’t want a general-purpose tool, they want to do something very specific with it and they want a tool that’s built to meet those needs and they want a company that can understand those applications and serve them well.”
To round off that complete system, Formlabs has also announced the Wash L + Cure L, a fully automated post-processing system for large-scale prints, which will ship in 2021.
Listen out for the next episode Additive Insight this Friday where Lobovsky will be joining TCT to discuss the new machines in more detail and talk about the company’s growth.
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