Formlabs' new 3D printers are faster and cheaper to use

The Form 4 and 4B run up to five times faster than the 3.


The dawn of the 3D-printing age was full of sky-high promises that had no chance of matching the reality of what was possible. Companies like Formlabs have taken the subsequent decade to look for places that the manufacturing process can work, and refining its technology to suit. Today, the company is announcing its Form 4 and Form 4B printers that, it says, offer a substantial improvement on what has gone before. And with maturity comes a shift in focus from just being able to create custom doodads on the fly toward a real manufacturing platform. The headline promise is simple: The Form 4 series will crank out prints up to five times faster than its predecessors. Rather than waiting a full day for a prototype to print out, the company is now suggesting you’ll be able to get something usable in just two hours.

(For the uninitiated: The B suffix stands for “biocompatible,” meaning the unit can 3D-print materials for medical applications. Formlabs has made inroads into the dental and medical industries, making cheap, custom-designed dentures as well as training models, prostheses and custom-fit medical equipment.)

The faster print time is enabled by better hardware, including a new print engine and a new light processing unit, as well as better resins. Formlabs is today announcing a set of new resins, including ones that help you crank out quick-and-dirty initial prototypes, as well as ones with more rigidity and color retention. Plenty of effort has also been jammed into ensuring that the resins (and the printers themselves) last longer, making prints cheaper and more efficient. The company is suggesting that prints made with the new gear will be around 40 percent lower thanks to the efficiency savings made elsewhere. This emphasis on speed, efficiency and lower cost should help bolster the sales pitch that these units are ready for bigger and better manufacturing jobs.

The Form 4 and Form 4B are available today, priced at $4,499 and $6,299, respectively.