I’m fascinated by Formlabs’ venture into the dental industry, which just got a lot deeper.
The company first delved into the dental market a few years ago while they were transitioning from their origins as one of the “DIY” 3D printers into today’s highly professional environment.
Smartly they’ve chosen to focus on a particular industry, in this case dental, while other 3D printer manufacturers focus on aerospace, prototyping, manufacturing and other industries.
Why are they “deeper”? Because this past week they announced a new resin for use in their machines that is specifically for dental use. And it’s very specific.
The new material is “Dental LT Clear”. It joins two previous materials announced by Formlabs, Dental Model Resin and Dental SG Resin, but has a big difference. They explain:
It is the first long-term biocompatible resin in desktop 3D printing for orthodontic applications.
With the fastest printing time of any Formlabs material to date, the Form 2 can now 3D print a splint in less than 50 minutes, and a full build platform with up to seven splints in under two hours. We’ve also released updates to our Dental SG Resin and PreForm software that improve print speeds for surgical guides by up to 50 percent.
This seems to be working for them, as they also explain:
We now command the largest dental 3D printer user base, have sold thousands of printers to dental professionals, and are growing at a pace of over 600 percent year on year.
That is quite interesting, because the dental 3D printing market was actually well established before Formlabs showed up. Several other companies were the “go to” manufacturers for dental 3D printers and materials, but I believe Formlabs is shaking up that market significantly.
How so? I think it’s because of Formlabs’ price structure. Their original desktop 3D printer was targeting a low-cost market and was made to meet that market. But with their switch to the dental market, their original low pricing paradigm followed. And it drastically contrasts with the heavy pricing from existing dental providers. I think they could be winning on price, but with announcements like this, they may also be winning on function.