Formlabs announced a partnership to enable additional specialty resins for their 3D printing equipment.
Formlabs’ new partner is BEGO, a German firm that develops a variety of solutions for the dental industry, including scanning, DLP 3D printing, prosthetics, software and much more, including materials.
The arrangement is to allow use of BEGO’s specialty dental resins in Formlabs’ dental-capable 3D printers, namely the Form 3B and Form 2 3D printers. With this material, these 3D printer operators will be able to produce permanent single crowns, inlays, onlays and veneers, and temporary crowns and bridges.
An arrangement of this type is not an infrequent occurrence; many 3D printers vendors partner with materials providers every week. So what is the difference here?
I believe this is a very subtle move by Formlabs to gain a significant chunk of business. If you consider how the dental industry operates, you have basically two parties in play: the dental offices and the dental labs. Traditionally work was sent from dental offices to the labs for production. That’s because in past days the cost of equipment, including trained technicians, was something unaffordable by individual dental offices.
But now this move enables something interesting to happen: the dental offices can 3D print many of their own appliances on site, rather than outsourcing it to a lab. This would certainly speed things up considerably, and likely lower costs as well.
Could they have done this on their own previously by procuring some appropriate resins and 3D printing the objects? Possibly, but remember that their business is dentistry, not fiddling around with machines with which they have no expertise.
In fact, that’s likely why they acquired Formlabs equipment in the first place: because Formlabs specifically engineers its hardware, software and materials to be incredibly easy to use. The dental offices don’t have to know much to successfully use the Formlabs equipment.
By adding a new option to the materials queue for these machines, the dental offices can simply buy cartridges of the new resins and use them directly without worrying at all about print parameters, experimental modes or other scary scenarios they would definitely want to avoid.
Thus the sales proposition for Formlabs is that a dental office can acquire a Formlabs device and very easily produce their own appliances without the need for a dental lab. This could be quite attractive to many operations.
I’m expecting to see a boost in sales at Formlabs: there are a staggering number of dental offices, all of which would like to spend less on dental lab services.