Formlabs Announces Faster Biocompatible Materials for Long-Term Use

SOMERVILLE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Formlabs, the designer and manufacturer of powerful and accessible 3D printing systems, today announced the release of Dental LT Clear, the first long-term biocompatible resin in desktop 3D printing for orthodontic applications for orthodontic devices. Formlabs also released improvements to its Dental SG Resin, reducing print speeds for surgical guides by up to 50 percent.

“Since entering the dental market in 2016, Formlabs has quickly established itself as the premier player in dental 3D printing,” said Dávid Lakatos, Chief Product Officer at Formlabs. “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. All of this has catalyzed an industry-wide shift to 3D printing and digital dentistry.”

The fastest Formlabs material to date, Dental LT Clear can be used to print splints and retainers in less than 50 minutes for a single unit. Full-build platforms, with up to seven splints, can be completed in under two hours.

With the latest PreForm software update, Form 2 3D printer users can also benefit from speed improvements in Formlabs’ Dental SG Resin. Single surgical guide prints will now be 50 percent faster, while full builds benefit from a 20 percent speed boost.

“We couldn’t be more excited by how quickly 3D printing is becoming part of the standard of care in dentistry,” said Gideon Balloch, Dental Product Lead at Formlabs. “Over 50,000 surgeries have been performed with a Formlabs printed surgical guide — and that’s just 10 percent of what dental users are doing with our printers. Dental LT Clear adds yet another digital workflow to a library that offers professionals more efficient, accurate and affordable production methods, enabling faster treatments for patients with better clinical outcomes. It’s only going to continue to grow.”

In addition to new product releases, Formlabs continues to build on its unabated growth via deepening partnership and distribution deals with 3Shape and Henry Schein, some of the largest players in the dental market.

Interested customers can request a free sample of Formlabs’ Dental LT Clear or Dental SG material here.

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Photos/press kit
Ordering Dental LT Clear

About Formlabs

Formlabs designs and manufactures powerful and accessible 3D printing systems. Headquartered in Boston with offices in Germany, Japan, and China, the company was founded in 2011 by a team of engineers and designers from the MIT Media Lab and Center for Bits and Atoms. Formlabs is establishing the industry benchmark for professional 3D printing for engineers, designers, and manufacturers around the globe, and accelerating innovation in a variety of industries, including education, dentistry, healthcare, jewelry, and research. Formlabs products include the Form 2 SLA 3D printer, Fuse 1 SLS 3D printer, Form Cell manufacturing solution, and Pinshape marketplace of 3D designs. Formlabs also develops its own suite of high-performance materials for 3D printing, as well as best-in-class 3D printing software.

3D printed foam outperforms traditional cellular materials in long-term stress

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) material scientists have found that 3D printed foam works better than standard cellular materials in terms of durability and long-term mechanical performance.

Foams, also known as cellular solids, are an important class of materials with applications ranging from thermal insulation and shock absorbing support cushions to lightweight structural and floatation components. Such material is an essential component in a large number of industries, including automotive, aerospace, electronics, marine, biomedical, packaging and defense. Traditionally, foams are created by processes that lead to a highly non-uniform structure with significant dispersion in size, shape, thickness connectedness, and topology of its constituent cells.

As an improved alternative, scientists at the additive manufacturing lab at LLNL recently demonstrated the feasibility of 3D printing of uniform foam structures through a process called direct-ink-write. However, since 3D printing requires the use of polymers of certain properties, it is important to understand the long-term mechanical stability of such printed materials before they can be commercialized. This is especially vital in applications such as support cushions where the foam material is subjected to long-term mechanical stresses.

To address the stability question, the LLNL team performed accelerated aging experiments in which samples of both traditional stochastic foam and 3D printed materials were subjected to a set of elevated temperatures under constant compressive strain. The stress condition, mechanical response and permanent structural deformation of each sample were monitored for a period of one year and, in some cases, even longer. A method called time-temperature-superposition was then used to quantitatively model the evolution of such properties over a period of decades under ambient conditions.

This study convincingly demonstrated that 3D printed materials age slowly, i.e., better retain their mechanical and structural characteristics, as compared to their traditional counterparts. Interestingly, native rubber (i.e. elastomer) comprising each foam showed exactly the opposite effect, i.e., the rubber in the printed material aged faster than the corresponding rubber used in the traditional foam.

To gain further insight into why the printed cellular material displayed superior long-term stability, the team imaged the 3D micro-structure of each foam sample with X-ray computed tomography, and performed finite-element analysis of the stress distribution within each micro-structure. They found that there is a much wider variation in local stresses within the stochastic foam, with points of extreme stress significantly higher than the maximum stress points within the more uniform 3D printed foam.

The research appears in the April 27 edition of the journal Scientific Reports.

“3D printing of foams offers tremendous flexibility in creating programmable architectures, customizable shapes and tunable mechanical response,” said lead author Amitesh Maiti. “Now that our work strongly indicates superior long-term stability and performance of the printed material, there is no reason not to consider replacing traditional foam with appropriately designed 3D printed foam in specific future applications.”

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

3D Systems Corporation (DDD) news: 3D Systems: 4-D Printing A Threat To Long-Term Margins?

The 3-D printing technology is evolving so fast that 4-D printing, i.e. the combination of high resolution 3D printers with smart materials that change their shape in response to outside stimuli, is already there. The rising importance and complexity of materials suggests in our view that 3D Systems’ (DDD) input costs will rise in the future, putting some pressure on the margins of its key consumables business.

We reiterate our view that consensus margin expectations are way too high on 3D Systems and that the stock is a Sell. For those willing to invest in the 3-D printing sector in these uncertain times, an interesting and lower risk strategy would be to go Long Stratasys (SSYS) and Short 3D Systems.

What is 4-D printing?

While 3-D printing is still in its infancy, a new technology is already making the buzz: 4-D printing. Actually, 4-D printing is an evolution of 3-D printing: instead of building static 3D items, the technology allows dynamic materials to self-assemble into different shapes after they have been printed or to evolve over time in response to their environment. The “fourth dimension” represents change and time.

Source: MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab

4-D printing is likely to have a major impact on construction and manufacturing industries as it will make it easier to build in extreme environments thanks to dynamic and tunable structures. But 4-D printing is also likely to have an impact on everyday life: just think of self-assembling furniture, clothing changing in response to your body temperature, better tire grip as you go through turns …

Smart materials to play a key role in the printing industry

As 4-D printing is the combination of high resolution 3-D printers with smart materials, that change their shape in response to outside stimuli (water, air, heat or light), it is quite obvious that materials will play a growing role in this business in coming years.

Smart materials already exist, as explained by Skylar Tibbits, head of the MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab which, in collaboration with Stratasys’ Education and R&D departments, is at the forefront of 4-D printing. Notably shape-memory alloys (such as nickel titanium), used in stents and other biomedical technologies, and shape-memory polymers or smart plastics.

But for cost reasons, Skylar Tibbits has for the moment a preference for everyday materials like plastics, metals and woods. He then combines and prints these materials in different thicknesses and orientations. The MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab notably developed a printing material that expands 150% when it meets water and a few prototypes, among which a tube that folds itself into a cube when submerged in water.

We believe that the MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab approach is a just a first step and that smart plastics and alloys will be part of the game in a few years as their cost declines. Later, materials might change in a way most of us are unable to imagine today. Just think of an object that is composed of atoms (an atom is the smallest particle of an element that remains identical to all other particles) and compounds (atoms of different particles combined) which are “intelligent” and can take the desired shape … You think this is science fiction? Have a look at this article … Actually, we just need more computing power.

Due to their rising importance and complexity, materials are likely to climb the value chain of the industry over the years (4-D printing commercial use is not expected before three to five years). This suggests in our view that the 4-D technology could change the economics of the 3-D printing industry, with rising input costs and hence lower margins for 3D Systems and peers.

Potential margin pressure ahead for 3D Systems?

In our view, odds are good that material providers such as Victrex (OTC:VTXPY) will ask for a higher share of the profits on consumables through higher prices in the future. This could put some pressure on the profitability of the consumables business at 3D Systems (and peers), suggesting that the long-term earnings growth driver of the company is at risk. Indeed, consumables are expected to generate most of the industry profits in the long-term.

In all, the advent of 4-D printing and smart materials strengthens our view (see our previous articles) that consensus margin expectations are way too high on 3D Systems and peers.

Conclusion

We reiterate our negative stance on the 3-D printing sector and specifically our Sell recommendation on 3D Systems. The stock is currently trading at 96x 2014 EPS, a level which is not justified in our view by the company’s earnings power (+20-30% a year in a best-case scenario). It’s also worth noting that 3D Systems does not seem to be at the forefront of 4-D printing as this is Stratasys which works with the MIT on the technology.

For those willing to invest in the 3-D printing sector in these uncertain times, an interesting and lower risk strategy would be to go Long Stratasys and Short 3D Systems. At 58x 2014 EPS, Stratasys’ valuation appears much more decent. And importantly, the company is highly innovative (Stratasys is likely to be seen as a pioneer of 4-D printing) and is set to become a dominant force in the consumer business, that will drive the 3-D printing industry in coming years. As you all know, the reviews for its MakerBot product on Amazon have been much better than those for 3D Systems’ Cubify.

Source: 3D Systems: 4-D Printing A Threat To Long-Term Margins?

Disclosure: I am short DDD. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. (More…)

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