Formlabs was founded by a handful of top engineers who realized that additive manufacturing was an amazing technology that still was unattainable for so many people. To fix that problem they decided to drive down the barrier to entry and went with the relatively new funding technique of crowd sourcing through Kickstarter. When they launched they had an ambitious goal to raise $100k from the community but the community was much larger than that. After 30 days the final total came in at $2.9MM placing them as the most funded technology campaign (not to mention a revenue total that many small business work years to achieve).
Even with all of the initial success the price tag of a Form1 ($3300) still leaves plenty of room for improvement. Refills on the material, a matte gray color, also run $150 so it may be some time before every home has a Formlabs machine. Taking all of this into account the really unique part of Formlabs is their nearly overnight transformation from unknown to serious player in the consumer brand 3D printer space. Though there is still pending litigation regarding their infringement on a Stratasys patent (a build platform that is climate controlled to ensure uniform cooling) they are positioned well to capture much of the hobby and inventor market.
As Formlabs moves from startup/kickstarter project it will be interesting to see how the industry responds. They offer a unique low price option. Most other accessibly priced 3D printers utilize the relatively simple FDM (fused deposition modeling) process but Formlabs uses a laser system for Stereolithography. Though both processes get a similar results the method is extremely different and thus allows for diverging paths of technology, each positioned to serve a particular market. I for one am interested to see which customers gravitate to each.
10 Unique 3D Printers
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