Today Formlabs announced new resin that demonstrates a significant product and marketing strategy change.
What is the new resin? It’s called “Dental SG Resin” and as you might imagine, it’s designed for the dental industry. However, it is not for 3D printing teeth or implants. No, instead it is for printing “surgical guides”. These are essentially jigs that assist a dentist during dental surgery to help guide dental tools to the correct locations. Once the surgery is complete, the surgical guide is no longer required.
Surgical guides must precisely match not only the patient’s dental configuration, but also be specifically customized to match the intended dental tool path. It’s like a mask that fits over teeth and has holes in the places where tools will be used.
Formlabs developed this resin specifically for this purpose. But what makes this resin different from any other resin? Couldn’t you just print a surgical guide with an existing resin?
You could do so, but it wouldn’t be a good plan because other resins are not medically certified for use in the human body. That’s how Dental SG Resin differs. Formlabs explains:
Dental SG is a Class 1 biocompatible resin (EN-ISO 10993-1:2009/AC:2010, USP Class VI) for creating precise surgical guides and similar applications. Tuned for accuracy and precision, the resin is designed to directly print surgical and pilot drill guides.
Here you can see the resin in action:
But there’s more to the story than just a new, interesting resin. To me, this is a strong signal that Formlabs is now departing its original “general purpose hobby 3D printer” strategy from their launch years ago and now is focusing on a specific industry: dentistry.
This is very good news for the company, for two key reasons:
First, the market for general purpose 3D printers is very tough due to decreased interest and a heck of a lot of resin-based competitors that have recently emerged.
Secondly, the dental market is huge and quite profitable. While there are multiple 3D printing solutions already available to perform the same functions from other vendors, Formlabs’ option is going to cost far, far less.
This could lead to a huge increase in sales for Formlabs, and perhaps put a dent into the marketing plans for larger (and more expensive) makers of dental 3D printing gear.
A great move by Formlabs! I’m expecting to see additional dental resins be announced by the company in the future to solidify their place in the dental market.