3d-printing dentistry

Formlabs raises $150MM

Formlabs raises $150MM in a Series E round. This investment values the 10-year-old Somerville, MA company at $2 billion dollars. A double unicorn is an… ibex?


It was a viewing of Print the Legend in Nov 2018 that turned this author into a Formlabs and CEO Max Lobovsky fan. I had helped select the Form 2 as a high-volume manufacturing platform some years before, but it was the documentary — which paired Formlabs + Makerbot against 3D Systems + Stratasys — that expanded my understanding of Formlabs from the local option to a vendor dedicated to 3D printing as a revolutionary platform.

The form factor and price point may make the Formlab’s family of products seem like toys compared to machines costing 10 or 100 times as much. That’s the strategy! If ubiquitous 3D printing is your goal, then Formlabs is showing how to do it.

The form factor enables single piece-flow. This is a lean manufacturing concept that strives to reduce batch sizes in exchange for easier error handling and load balanced workflows. Incremental changes in capacity are easy and affordable to implement. Go small to go big!

That’s not to say that 3D printing — and in particular, the SLA kind of printing — has sustainability challenges regarding material recycling and energy consumption. How is 3D printing greener than other types of manufacturing? It would be good to know the answer to that question.

The platform is one thing but what makes it valuable is the types of products that can be made. So, to that end, we need more end-use materials! When can we start printing clear aligners? What about greener materials? Could we print a compost-able dental model?

Congratulations to Formlabs raises $150MM and good luck meeting the needs of the dental industry in the future. Read more about the dental industry on the Metatooth blog.


3d-printing dentistry marketresearch product

Yankee Dental 2020

Metatooth went to Yankee Dental 2020 and here’s what we found.

3D Printing

Micron Dental was showing their P305 printer. This printer uses LCD technology as the light source. Micron claims less lens distortion issues with this technology over the SLA and DLP types. It is being sold as a bundle only, which includes a wash & cure station.

The P305 lacks the design flair of the Formlabs Form 3B  or SprintRay Pro. The exterior design would not effect performance, but it does limit access to the print plate, with a side door of just 18 inches. Compare this to the “hatch” approach provided by the other two vendors. Does this effect usability? Micron users please comment below!

Formlabs was present as well, showing the Form 3B. No new materials were shown. The hunt is still on for a printable clear aligner tray. Everyone seems happy to be selling model resin! Formlab’s PreForm software is free to download and use, which was news to Metatooth.

Finally, Great Lakes Dental Technologies showed an economy desktop LCD printer the UNIZ Slash Plus.

Dental CAD

Metatooth watched a demonstration of 3Shape‘s Bite Splint and Indirect Bonding modules. 3Shape’s design software is available stand-alone, at prices comparable to other stand-alone software. However, the yearly maintenance fees are required for the software to operate.

Look for 3Shape to support Polygon File Format (*.ply) in the near future. This will enable non-3Shape users of this data to receive the color information collected by TRIOS scanners. This would be a welcome addition to those supporting open standards and protocols in the dental industry.

Practice Management Software

There were a number of companies offering software products that worked with the leaders in practice management software. Hopefully more of these offerings will keep coming. Metatooth recommends software products that integrate using the vendor’s API, not via an understanding of the vendor’s database schema.

This market is quite regional, so for the Northeast, Metatooth considers these the market leaders.

  1. EagleSoft from Patterson Dental
  2. Dentrix from Henry Schein
  3. OpenDental

Relative newcomer carestack might be one to watch.


Artificial Intelligence vendors were centered around perio-charting assistance and some other voice-to-text tasks. BOLA.AI offered the most functionality. This area will continue to grow, especially as practice management systems (see above) move to the cloud and add API support.


Direct-to-consumer companies looking to add a clinical channel were present. quip was the most well known to Metatooth, but another toothbrush service — BURST — was also on the scene. Colgate, Oral-B, and the like had throngs at their booths. When does quip or BURST become an acquisition target?

There was also an anti-snoring device from Zyppah. This self-molding thermoform device is available directly from the company. A “dentist only” channel was being presented.

Metatooth had a great time at the vendor exhibition of Yankee Dental 2020. What did Metatooth miss? Tell us about it in the comments!

Yankee Dental 2020