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Formlabs reports 100,000,000 parts 3D printed on its SLA systems

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Formlabs, the leader in professional-grade SLA 3D printers, reported that its machines have been used to 3D print 100,000,000 parts since the company was founded about ten years ago. This figures includes primarily SLA 3D printed parts but also, in the past year, SLS parts.

How significant is this figure? According to 3dpbm Research’s upcoming Polymer AM report, there were about 9.4 million SLA parts 3D printed by AM service providers in 2021 alone. Considering that AM service providers represent between one-third and half of all SLA parts printed (the remaining 50% to 66% consists of end-users of this technology across various verticals), there were between 20 and 30 million parts printed in SLA in 2021.

The number of parts has grown exponentially over the past ten years, for both Formlabs (with only a few thousand parts printed in the first few years after the company’s founding) and other SLA hardware manufacturers. Today, Formlabs installed the base of SLA 3D printers, which has surpassed 100,000 units, represents over 80% of the global SLA hardware installed base. Even accounting for the fact that the remaining 15% consists of industrial systems with larger sizes and higher potential productivity, this difference in the number of active units enables Formlabs’ combined production capabilities to surpass those of all other larger industrial systems combined.

This is an incredible achievement that is sometimes overlooked, perhaps even by Formlabs itself.

Formlabs reports 100,000,000 parts 3D printed on its SLA systems, the company also has by far the largest installed base

What can Formlabs print?

Formlabs users were initially printing mostly prototypes and tools but have also increasingly been able to scale up production of the same part. The printers’ capacity (and price) has progressively also increased, to ensure more repeatability, consistency of the technology and non-stop runs.

This kind of (relative) serial production is expected to be the larger contributor to the overall number of prints, however, customization is gaining traction in many industries where additive manufacturing, and especially Formlabs printers, are utilized. These include the, which was dramatically disrupted by the cost-effectiveness of Formlabs 3D printers and their rapid adoption by dentists, lab owners, technicians, orthodontists, surgeons, and prosthodontists. According to Formlabs, the single biggest use by volume for 3D printing is the creation of orthodontic models— the parts on which the average retainer or aligner is formed (this can be done using several different technologies and printers).

Formlabs reports 100,000,000 parts 3D printed on its SLA systems, the company also has by far the largest installed base

Formlabs also reported that its customers have printed hundreds of thousands of teeth, including models in Grey Resin for thermoformed orthodontic appliances, restoration work in our Permanent Crown Resin, or replacements in Denture Base and Denture Teeth Resins. Dental labs and practices have been some of the earliest adopters of 3D technology, and continue to push the industry towards faster, more precise printers and materials.

Customization in medicine doesn’t yield big numbers in terms of part production, but Formlabs has observed that there is real, tangible improvement in operating room time, patient recovery, and surgical outcome when point of care customers create surgical models on their Form 3+ and Form 3L printers.

In some cases, customization can also happen at scale. Gillette’s innovation, the Razor Maker project, created customized razor blade handles for their customers, printing hundreds of models on the Form 2 printers using a variety of our resins. Consumer product customization is fairly new, but the Boston-based partners leveraged their best-selling brand awareness to bring attention to the possibilities of 3D printing.

Formlabs reports 100,000,000 parts 3D printed on its SLA systems, the company also has by far the largest installed base

Formlabs’ fun

Digital sculpting is another major adoption segment for the Formlabs SLA print engine. This has led to collaborations with DreamWorks digital designers all the way to Marvel props to Hollywood. Production companies, like Aaron Sims Creative, are printing custom props and prosthetics, set pieces, and sometimes even using the printers themselves as part of the plot. Fan favorites like Raised By Wolves, Stranger Things, and Grey’s Anatomy all feature Formlabs printed parts, costume components, and even printers themselves.

As mentioned, both globally and among Formlabs customers, the most common 3D printing application remains rapid prototyping. Today’s advanced product development workflows, in segments such as the automotive, can require tens, if not hundreds, of iterations, all coming together. For large industrial customers to keep printing, they’ll need to hire talented new workers, and starting 3D printing education in school is the best way to make sure the workforce is prepared. At a growing number of universities, faculty and administration are emphasizing 3D printing as a tool to both prepare students for their careers and help upskill the workforce by involving the community.

Formlabs reports 100,000,000 parts 3D printed on its SLA systems, the company also has by far the largest installed base

 

Research 2022
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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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