Max Lobovsky

Co-founder of Formlabs

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 25, 2015

Discussion

Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
Hey, I’m Max Lobovsky, co-founder of Formlabs. We design and manufacture powerful and accessible 3D printing systems for engineers, designers, and artists. Earlier this week, we launched Form 2, our second-generation high-resolution, desktop stereolithography 3D printer. Founded in 2012, Formlabs had launched our very first printer back then via a record-breaking $2.8 million Kickstarter campaign (it was the highest backed tech campaign at the time). Today, Formlabs has grown into an industry leader in desktop 3D printing with international operations. I’m a graduate of the Center for Bits and Atoms at the MIT Media Lab where I graduated with a Master of Science. I hold a Bachelor of Science in applied engineering and physics from Cornell, where I led Fab@Home, one of the earliest open-source 3D printing projects.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
What are your thoughts on Kanye's recent objections to 3D printing in fashion? Do you think it has a place in the garment/fashion world?
Shaun Modi@shaunmodi · Designing for Product Hunt and TM
What’s the most far-reaching idea that’s come through the offices at Formlabs for something to print?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@shaunmodi This guy printed an entire stop motion animation out of 2500 separate parts! http://www.chasemefilm.com/
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Furthermore, what is the biggest misconception people have about 3d printing?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@eriktorenberg That 3D printing is a way to make anything. 3D printing is one (or actually a group) out of many dozens of different ways to make things. 3D printing isn't always (or even usually) the right choice. It's the right choice when you want to make many lots of different models, not many of one.
Alastair Goldfisher@agoldfisher · polygold13
Do you see the price of 3D technology ever coming down or will printers remain in the few-thousand dollar range?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@agoldfisher The price will definitely come down, but there is usually a sweet spot for a given product. There are smartphones that only cost $100, but most people find it doesn't make sense and prefer phones in the $500 range. I think that a few thousand dollars will continue to be the sweet spot for desktop printers. At least until they stop improving by leaps and bounds, but I can promise that won't change any time soon :)
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
@maxlobovsky Hi! Thanks for joining us today. What do you see as the future of 3D printing? What have we not seen yet, and what other industries will this technology be the most useful for in the future?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@ems_hodge Hi Emily! I think 3D printing is in the middle of an amazing renaissance. We will see great progress in materials (especially metals), multi material printing, faster, bigger, higher resolution etc. But, I think the bigger change will come from making 3D printing more accessible. If you look at the number of things that can benefit from 3D printing vs the number of things that actually use it, there is huge potential if you can work on cost, ease of use, etc
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
@maxlobovsky What is the most popular item you print at Formlabs?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@andrewmettinger Well we print thousands of our free sample part (a chess rook). But everyone is printing different things for themselves. Jewelry, figurines, parts for DIY/electronics products
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What advice do you have to yourself 5 yrs ago ?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@eriktorenberg Take extra time before shipping to get it right (even if you are already late). Build a dedicated manufacturing team earlier.
Kate@katesegrin · Community @Tierion
What are some of your personal goals for this coming year, @maxlobovsky?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@katesegrin First, get some rest :) I just moved into a new house, got married, and launched the Form 2 in 60 days. But after that, it will be great to get back to exploring new product ideas. We've built up a long backlog of things to look at
Kate@katesegrin · Community @Tierion
@maxlobovsky congrats! Do you and your team put a high value on work / life balance?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@katesegrin Few of us are working a 9-5 job here, but I don't think you can be leading in your industry without people working really hard. We've got a very tight-knit group that spends a lot of time together outside of work as well. I don't think we'd be as good at what we do if we didn't have that.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
Do you imagine parents will ever have a digital printer in their homes to print toys, rather than go out and buy them? How far off is something like that?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@jacqvon Jacq, I think it's definitely possible, but a thing that prints toys is just a toy and I don't think that will be the most exciting part of 3D printing's future.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
@maxlobovsky @jacqvon Oooo! What do you think will be? The jewelry is definitely amazing.
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
I'm more interested in the idea that 3D printing could be printing functional things at home (replacing some of what Amazon, etc can deliver).
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@jacqvon Jewelry is a pretty awesome use case for 3D printing. I've bought my wife several pieces from Nervous System @nervous_system. They have some pretty awesome online customization tools.
Nadia Cheng@nadcheng · Director of R&D, Empire Robotics
What were some functionalities that Formlabs wanted to implement in the new machine but decided not to/weren't able to?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@nadcheng Well you will see many of those things in our future products. It's easier to dream up more than you can possibly implement. But we have a lot of ideas to address speed, resolution, material properties, and of course, ease of use
Nadia Cheng@nadcheng · Director of R&D, Empire Robotics
@maxlobovsky I was hoping for more specifics but I'll just have to wait for future products then :) If Formlabs didn't exist, what desktop 3D printer would you recommend to a company like ours that wants to make functional parts with high-resolution features (like threads for putting a screw into)?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@nadcheng For FDM machines, I really like @Ultimaker and @PP3DP products. It's not the same resolution as a stereolithography machine, but they are good for some applications. In the desktop SL world, I wouldn't recommend anything other than a Formlabs machine :)
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What is the biggest misconception people have around a successful kickstarter campaign? Or your biggest advice?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@eriktorenberg My biggest advice is to realize that building a company is about more than just shipping a product. If you want to do it well, you need to worry about marketing, manufacturing, distribution, customer support, etc. It's pretty hard to do that well without raising some money before going to Kickstarter
Nadia Cheng@nadcheng · Director of R&D, Empire Robotics
@maxlobovsky how do you think your original Kickstarter campaign would fare now if your first product was only just being introduced today? Seeing that there are still not many desktop SL competitors, yet so many other 3D printers have come up on Kickstarter since your campaign (is there a 3D-printer overload on Kickstarter?), how would the level of success compare?
Kate@katesegrin · Community @Tierion
@maxlobovsky what drove you to start a Kickstarter campaign for your first product?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@katesegrin We knew that we wanted to use preorders to fund moving the product into production. And Kickstarter just had a few successful hardware campaigns. We were afraid that it didn't fit will with a higher priced, more prosumer product like this. But we decided it was more important to get the word out there then anything.
Kate@katesegrin · Community @Tierion
@maxlobovsky other than having some funds from the success of Form, why did you elect not to put Form 2 on Kickstarter?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@katesegrin The price is even higher now, and the proportion of our customers that are professionals has also increased, so we didn't think it represented our brand as well.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What will be the tipping point for 3d printing as an industry? What will that look like and when will that happen?
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@eriktorenberg I think when the average person can tell you about something 3D printing did for them like a piece of jewelry, a medical or dental procedure, a customized product, etc we will be entering a new phase.
Temujin Kuechle@tkuechlekuechle · Designer
I think we are in the early stages of this phase. I see printed parts around town, although these are quite crude, they are 3D printed parts out in the wild.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
Thank you for being here and answering all of our questions today @maxlobovsky ! It was a real pleasure 👏
Temujin Kuechle@tkuechlekuechle · Designer
Hi Maxim, first off thank you for creating the Form series of SLA printers, I look forward to receiving the Form2. My question is about materials, specifically creating food safe, or inert materials that don't interact with the human body. What are your thoughts, relative to a timeline, on a Form series printer being able to make parts from such a material? Thank you!
Maxim Lobovsky@maxlobovsky
@tkuechlekuechle Unfortunately, there isn't a clear way to determine "food safety" of a product. We have some materials safety testing that we've passed with the highest possible ratings. Whether we brand something as food safe is sort of a business decision about whether we want to take on the liability, insurance, etc to market it that way. What is the application you are interested in?
Temujin Kuechle@tkuechlekuechle · Designer
The application would be a material that is in constant contact with both the exterior and interior of the body. So this could range from prosthetics to medical devices and even specialized utensils for disabled people.