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Formlabs introduces automation ecosystem to enable automated 3D printer fleets

Source:        DateTime:2023.01.18        Hits:

Formlabs has announced the Automation Ecosystem, which it says is set to enable new levels of 3D printing productivity with Form Auto for back-to-back throughput, Fleet Control for advanced fleet management, and the High Volume Resin System for high-capacity printing.

According to Formlabs, the Automation Ecosystem reduces the amount of operator labour and minimises idle printer time with 24/7 printing so users can efficiently produce end-use parts, prototypes, and customisable products at a lower cost per-part. The Automation Ecosystem is debuting at CES 2023, where attendees can see the abilities of the new system, such as printing back-to-back prints non-stop without an operator says the company.

The Automation Ecosystem is said to make the transition 'easy' when scaling 3D printing production from one printer to multiple printers. The system has the ability to manage multi-material printer fleets, and can enable continuous production so users can send multiple prints to run overnight and into the weekend.

Formlabs says the ecosystem provides a three-time increase in productivity while saving up to 80% on labour, lowering cost per part by 40%, and reducing packaging waste up to 90%.

The ecosystem includes Form Auto, which is said to enable automated 24/7 printing with automatic part removal so users can level up production and reduce labour. When parts are complete, Form Auto seamlessly removes finished parts from the Build Platform 2 using the patented Quick Release Technology, and starts the next print in the queue as soon as possible. This works with Form 3 or Form 3+ 3D printers.

Also part of the ecosystem is Fleet Control, which is a suite of new features within Formlabs’ Dashboard and PreForm software that includes centralised queue management and automatic printer assignment. Fleet Control works with Form 3+, Form 3B+, Form 3L, and Form 3BL printer fleets.

The High Volume Resin System is included in the Automation Ecosystem and increases the resin capacity to five litres - five times the standard cartridge size, which enables users to create more parts with fewer interruptions for cartridge replacements. According to Formlabs, the system streamlines workflows with consistent resin dispensing with a resin pump while reducing downtime and user intervention to change cartridges, as well as packaging waste.

The High Volume Resin System is also compatible with the Form 3+, Form 3B+, Form 3L and Form 3BL.

Formlabs Chief Product Officer Dávid Lakatos said: “The Formlabs Automation Ecosystem is a seamless solution for ramping up production with 3D printer fleets, staying true to the ease of all Formlabs products, so anyone can make anything. These solutions will enable companies such as dental labs, service bureaus, and internal job shops to ramp up production without increasing labour requirements, or expensive capital investment, making 3D printing for production more cost-effective.

“Formlabs users have recently achieved a major milestone, with more than 100 million parts printed on our 3D printers, and by adding this ecosystem, Formlabs is increasing the capacity so users can deliver further 3D printing innovation.”

Last year, TCT spoke to Formlabs' Luke Winston at Formnext about recent high-profile uses of the company’s technology, and the role of 3D printing in healthcare.