Buried discussions


#1

Has anyone else noticed how discussion threads started by FormLabs that seem to either reflect negatively or critically on the company or end up not having the desired effect, get buried?

The “Form 3B Announcement” is such a thread. You may have noticed that it’s gone. Yes, you can still get to it if you have the direct link (like if you posted in it), but if you don’t have the link, or are new to the forum, it’s gone.

All this because there were negative responses to the announcement, which they did not expect.

The same thing happened with their “Grow Your 3D Printing Capabilities: Form 3 Discount for FDM Owners!”, in which tey tried to get FDM users interested in switching to SLA, but did it in a pretty lame manner. When that started to blow up in their face, it too disappeared.

I know this is their forum group, and I know they can do whatever they want, but it doesn’t say much for a company of their stature that can’t take criticism.

How do you guys feel about this, especially those of you that participated in the original threads?


#2

Hmm, didn’t notice but I get it, it’s their forum. This is not the only forum where they get criticised about certain decisions and I have seen this happen before here.

What annoys me the most is that they don’t seem to have time to respond to bug reports. There are a few annoying bugs reported on the forum but no one(including a dedicated community manager) seems to be able to at least reply…


#3

They do it every time a thread turns negative, which is sadly becoming more common.

I can only conclude from Formlabs most recent marketing that they are under serious pressure from their latest investors to monetize their investment. Almost inevitably this means bumping prices, dropping quality and ignoring customers problems and servicing, all of which we have seen. All those things lead to negative forum responses.
Many companies on this slope reach the point of policing the forum so agressivly that the users leave for an alternate forum where they can express themselves freely. Please don’t be like this Formlabs.

Really sad to see a customer focused company become shareholder and profit driven in this way.


#4

I really like the forums and have found them a tremendously helpful resource over the years. I consider them one of the most important “features” driving me to stick with the Formlabs brand.

I was very disappointed when they started the policy of “locking” threads N days after the last reply (which I believe came about during the critical uber-threads about “laser flare” in the Form 1). I would be further disappointed if what you’ve reported about negative feedback getting suppressed is true. I haven’t observed it myself, although subjectively I’ve sometimes found it difficult to locate threads I know exist. I always assumed it was just me, due to how the forums surface content. But I expect you’re onto something, as just now I did a search on “Form 3B”, and the announcement thread didn’t come up.

I would much rather see Formlabs fix or explain any issues, own their mistakes, and move on. Nobody expects any company to hit a perfect batting average every time, and the way you handle unexpected curveballs from your customer base speaks a lot to the reputation of a brand.

GitLab, for example, does a phenomenal job of transparency (even for controversial issues) and other organizations could learn a lot by modeling their approach.

@DKirch, tagging you here in hopes some of the thoughts reflected here can find their way to decision-makers.


#5

Ouch, I’m just now starting to realize what exceptional bullshit Formlabs is trying to pull off with the whole Form 3B thing… software-restricting the Form 3 to sell an identical machine for a higher price. And then they make the ****** move to just let their own announcement thread disappear.

If FormLabs continue on that road, I expect them to be in trouble quite soon…

Additionally, if one were cyncical, one could guess that FormLabs currently has too many people in the marketing department (they seem to be bored/under pressure to do “something”) and not enough engineers (see Form3 resin incompatibilities, inaccurate printing profiles etc.)


#6

The FDM thread was just a bad idea. I read their post and Dudemeister’s response pretty much summed up my own thoughts about this “comparison”. So i can understand why they want to burry this thread, as it is just bad PR. Btw. i can still find the infamous picture in the german blog section :smiley:

What happened in the Form 3B Announcement thread is kina unfortunate i think. It mixes two things, that is Formlabs’ expansion in the dental market and the problems they currently are facing with the Form3. Formlabs wanted to inform the users about its investment into the dental market and got (rightfully) flamed because of the current state of the Form3.

The forum is a great way to exchange information with other users and sometimes even Formlabs staff, who does the real engineering, posts something really interesting. Because of that i have an easy time ignoring the PR stunts.


#7

The machine is the same, but the dental resins and settings are a different product. Formlabs claims to have “50 materials scientists and print process engineers behind Formlabs Dental products”. Why should they give away that for free?

Americans like their marketing. If you yell lould and fast enough at your potential costumers, they will buy anything :wink:


#8

Seems Formlabs got a free marketing guy with you… Dental resins already sell for premium prices. The Form 3 used to be able to print all resins, and the Form 3B is no different hardware-wise - it’s actually a Form 3 that isn’t artificially castrated by software.


#9

They are not giving it away, they are asking a premium for dental resins already. People just try to understand the decision. Why do you need a separate Form 3B when the early 2019 Form 3 at a lower price can do the same job? All they offer extra is a service package. This can be completely separate from the machine.

There is hardly flaming in the thread. People are concerned and like to understand the decision making. It can make these customers upset if they don’t get a decent answer(but just an empty answer which doesn’t tell anything new) from a company they regard highly.

We are not going to buy a Form 3B for the 5 or 10 prints a year that need to be biocompatible. But we would have bought the biocompatible resins if they could be printed on the Form 3 we already have. So we would go to a local company which doesn’t have Formlabs printers and order them there, so FL misses out on money there, but I guess we’re way too small to bother.

We would never buy the service package to get a hot swap, but instead we make sure we have a bit of over capacity. This would be a very bad strategy when you have expensive equipment like a CNC mill of 100k to 1M USD. The FL machines are cheap enough that you just place an extra machine in the lab. But buying a separate one for just a few biocompatible prints makes no sense.

We would also never buy the service package or pro plan for printing tips. If you have the machines for several months and print daily, you know what the limitations are and how to position the prints. There are so many complaints about the pro-plan being slow to respond(and when they respond you get A4 size responses with 5 lines of useful text…), that it doesn’t add any benefit.

What I think(correct me if I’m wrong) is that they want to be taken more serious in the dental market which requires a dedicated machine instead of an ‘allrounder’ and this is their strategy.

But geez, seeing how much they have spammed our email and phone so we would buy the Form 3 and how much marketing is still going on, it looks like there are some shareholders/investors that need to be pleased.


#10

They can charge even more because the dental market is very profitable. They want to sell the Form 3B with an expensive service contract and they restrict the Form3 so that dental labs have to buy the 3B.
Formlabs failed to communcate that to the Form3 owners which lead to the current forum PR desaster.

My definition of flaming is: Expressing valid or invalid criticism driven by negative emotions. I dont see it as a purely negative thing, i learned alot from getting flamed.
Formlabs currently does a bad job at communicating their decision making.

Yes, i see it the same way.


#11

I expect if the 3B had been introduced at the same time as the 3, the distinction would have been more palatable (i.e. “Meet our latest line of printers, we’ve branched off our dental from our mainstream” instead of the optics of “We’re neutering the product we just released to milk more from the dental market”).


#12

AIUI if you already have a Form3 it will print biocompatible resins as if it was a 3B. The 3s that can do this are marked ‘Early 2019’ in the Printer Details dialog in Preform.*


#13

I have no idea why you feel obliged to justify anti-customer decisions by FormLabs… that is a general thing I notice with other people and other manufacturers too - there’s always at least one guy that defends every decision taken by the company, no matter how badly they screw their customers. I honestly don’t get this.


#14

I can’t see anything about “early 2019” in my printer details dialog in preform. Seeing as I ordered the machine before the release of it, I would expect it to have this function.


#15

@Gary_Cairns You should see the “Early 2019” label on this dialog when you select the printer, using the latest version of Preform:


#16

Cheers! Looks like I was using a slightly older version of preform. Turns out I do have an early 2019 form 3. In some ways I suspect these machines will have a higher resale value than the versions that come later as it’s essentially a dental machine


#17

I don’t why you should think that anyone has been screwed. People now have a chance to buy a standard Form 3 or a Form3B which is guaranteed to be certified for any new biocompatible resins that Formlabs are likely to produce. If you don’t use biocompatible resins, you haven’t lost out and if you do, then the guarantee of certification is probably worth the extra premium on the price.


#18

yes yes closing thread after 7 days without real answer is getting me mad!