MIT & FormLabs sponsored a “Digital Factory” event at MIT that was well attended. I would guess there were 1,500 people and about 10 companies providing very intriguing digital industrial solutions. For now I will discuss only what’s new from FormLabs as the others were not really related to dental. However, one company could be great help for automating our warehouses. I’m not up on the current state of automation we currently have but the staff representing the company know our CEO, Stanley Bergman, very well.
FormLabs showed a new, more fully automated printing assembly for high production. This consisted of a large glass enclosure that was 4′ x 10′ x 6.5′ tall. The glass was UV protected so the need for the orange plexiglass on the printers was not needed. Inside the glass enclosure there were 5 printers lined up. Next to the 5th printer was a post-build cleaning unit. Next to the cleaning unit was a robotic arm and a rack setup for build plates with a capacity of holding about 40 cleaned or unused build plates and competed projects. The idea is to automate production and manage much larger capacity with minimal labor. It was very impressive to say the least. I believe there is also no reason why this could not be enlarged to manage 10 or more printers simultaneously.
The solution is now ready for beta testing with probable large scale launch in a year. Estimated cost will be $50-75K all in with 5 printers, cleaning unit, curing unit, robotic arm and build plate rack.
Full print booth assembly. The yellow are on the top right is the robot. The rack is accessible form the back.
Rack for build plates.
Formlabs has developed an ultrasonic cleaning unit for cleaning to build plates after they come out of the printer. They also have a post processing light cure unit. Both will be available for shipment October 2. The two units will have a MSRP of about $1,300 for the pair. They are taking in pre-orders now and I think it would be prudent to get in an order asap. Below is a photo of both units.