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?

Photo by Lou Tamposi, taken in the Vanoise National Park. Ibex
CC BY-SA 2.5

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.