Formlabs' Form Cell Strategy Working
Fabbaloo posted on October 12, 2018 |

Formlabs announced the installation of one of their new Form Cell systems at a health care provider, demonstrating the viability of their strategy. The company has long been producing standalone resin-based 3D printers, culminating with their most recent and popular model, the Form 2. These machines have proven to be extremely easy to use and provide excellent output.

3D print plates ready to roll inside a Formlabs Form Cell unit [Source: Fabbaloo]
3D print plates ready to roll inside a Formlabs Form Cell unit [Image courtesy of Fabbaloo]

But is Formlabs content to simply sell many of these excellent machines? It appears they want to do more with this technology, and for that they developed the Form Cell.

This is a kind of robotic “accessory” for the Form 2 desktop 3D printer in which many manual operations are automated. The Form Cell creates an assembly line-like mechanism, where 3D prints are produced, cleaned and cured automatically. This enables more rapid production of parts.

The Form Cell appears to be technologically complete system, aside from support removal and any desired finishing required, such as painting. Much manual labor is removed. But is this enough to justify the purchase of a Form Cell?

It seems to me that one could justify the purchase of a Form Cell only if there is a sufficient and continuous volume of 3D print work expected. If one were to have several Form 2s in operation continuously, an operator would be kept busy looking after each machine and its output. Depending on the specifics, there would be a break-even point where the acquisition of a Form Cell would make sense. This would vary by situation, but be assured that it would likely require a very healthy volume of prints.

Knowing that, we now see that Formlabs has announced the installation of one of their first Form Cell units, located at Northwell Health, “New York State’s largest health care provider with 23 hospitals”.

Further reporting on issues not included in this article can be found here on Fabbaloo.

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