It seems as though capitalism, like nature, abhors a vacuum. MakerBot isn’t the maker darling of old. Though it doesn’t have quite the same business model, Formlabs has been rising for some time to take the crown of community leader, a position it further enhanced with its acquisition of Pinshape.
Just like anything else, however, making moves to pull ahead of the pack requires money. Formlabs has, so far, remained a private company, meaning it can’t rely on investor goodwill to raise cash. A recent round of Series B funding has raised $35 million to support new company initiatives, and to further extend its global reach.
“With the new investment, we’re excited to develop more powerful tools to enable anyone working with 3D content to create remarkable things,” said Max Lobovsky, co-founder and CEO of Formlabs. “Formlabs will continue to grow the stereolithography business and bring new tools to the world to advance our goal of making digital fabrication more powerful and accessible.”
The largest investors in this round of funding include Foundry Group and Autodesk. The most immediate impact of the funding is an addition to Formlabs’ board, which will now include Brad Feld, co-founder of Foundry Group.
Along with the investment, Autodesk and Formlabs have agreed to work together to develop new tools for additive manufacturing (AM) software integration, including joint marketing initiatives.
“Formlabs has brought a lot of innovation and great execution to the desktop 3D printing market, and Autodesk is excited to invest in the company’s future,” said Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk. “But even more importantly, we’re eager to work together to improve digital design and manufacturing for product designers everywhere.”
Viewed as a whole, the recent moves by Formlabs point to the idea the company is attempting to carve out its own AM ecosystem. Better software, developed in part by Autodesk, could well lead to increased interest from the design community. That community is given a voice and a place to do business thanks to Pinshape.
Below you’ll find a video from Formlabs about stereolithography, the process used by all Formlabs AM systems.