Delays on Form3 delivery


#21

… you would think- but only if you utterly ignore the evidence of reality.

Show me Just ONE thoroughly beta tested OS that didn’t need an update within the first few months?
Just one car company that never had a recall?
I mean, sure, I can design and produce something that everyone has lots of experience with, like a dining table chair, and chances are it will work just as planned.
But when products become increasingly complex, and especially when they break entirely new ground with systems no one has ever produced before, the likelihood that everything will work exactly as planned falls to zero.

Secondly, you can’t Beta test for everything. You can’t beta test scaling a production line. I know because i’ve done it. You find out the hard way. A group of technicians assembling a machine they understand is not even remotely the same as a bunch of factory workers assembling a machine of which they have no comprehension at all.
And No matter how thoroughly you beta test, you can not possibly guess the myriad different things a random group of users will throw at your design. You ALWAYS find bugs you didn’t know were there.

Third of all, Beta testing is when you release the thing to a select group of users, and let them try to work the thing.
Guess who those folks are in this scenario?

Its you folks who bought a machine that wasn’t even for sale yet.

Early Adopters are the beta testers for new devices. And you folks should have a more heroic attitude toward your position on the cutting edge. You are blazing the trail for those of us who will only follow when the route is well established and safe.


#22

So, business is valued at $1bn, Best selling printer (Form 2) production finished… New model released but not quite finished off gearing up production to meet demand before release, another printer vanishes into the smoke (Fuse)

How do the other printer manufacturers survive? (many with a lower valuation)

I have worked in high tech industry most of my life and I can assure you that the Formlabs business model is quite exceptional and pushing the extremes of customer retention. Which is a shame as they have some great products, its just that the other areas of the business (sales, support for existing customers and production) are perhaps not as strong as their technical design ability to create new concepts I can’t help but wonder if we will see one of the major players such as 3Dsystems, Stratasys or Envisiontech buy out Formlabs and start to apply their experience and capabilities for production and development to the Formlabs range of products.

Its interesting to read the article from Forbes in August 2018.

Some quotes below:

From https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyfeldman/2018/08/01/3-d-printing-startup-formlabs-venture-capital-unicorn-1-billion-valuation-financing-jeff-immelt-forbes-30-under-30-alumni-max-lobovsky/#5c43081c7471

“In 2016, Maxim Lobovsky, cofounder and CEO of Formlabs, made the cut for the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Today, his 3-D printing company passed the $1 billion valuation mark with a new round of venture capital funding from New Enterprise Associates.”

“Formlabs today has more than 500 employees, and a revenue run rate above $100 million, and it claims to be the world’s largest seller of stereolithography 3-D printers worldwide. Lobovsky would like Formlabs to become “the largest company in 3-D printing.” With that goal in mind, Formlabs is working on a new printer, called the Fuse 1, that aims to do for selective laser sintering—a high-end technology used to make aerospace parts and medical devices—what it did for stereolithography. Pricing for its Fuse 1 printer will start at $9,999, compared with $200,000 and up for traditional SLS machines. Formlabs has begun taking preorders for its new machines, and expects to begin shipping them early next year.”
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#23

I don’t know- 3D Systems and Stratasys have had 30 years to develop and field an affordable SLA printer-
and they haven’t.

Why do you suppose that is?

They seem determined to keep the cost of high quality rapid prototyping in the realm of high cost.
3D systems software is super high priced, too. ( i know because I run three seats of Freeform ) Despite the examples of Avid, and Final Cut pro that prove that affordable printers and software would sell in vast numbers.
3D Systems no longer repairs the Phantom Haptic arms that I have been running for over 17 years, and To replace the 3 Haptic arms I use with their newer models would run $15,000 EACH.

So, your theory that they would run Formlabs better at the same cost is not really supported by their other acquisitions.

I would hazard that part of their reticence to make a prosumer is because too many people in the maker community have this unrealistic idea about how a company should be run and the serviceability of their products.
I know a lot of folks running their high end equipment and it spends more time down than my Form 2.

Now- I can’t AFFORD a $160,000 dollar printer- but then again, I am sure a 160k printer has Really good customer support.

All I can say is that I Bought my Form 2 about 19 months ago. The one I got was a lemon in what turned out to be a whole RUN of lemons that Formlabs ended up selling due to some problem in their chinese manufacturing line.
It took them a while to realize it was not ME… and they replaced my bad machine with a machine that has run nearly perfect- until it suddenly stopped being able to detect cartridges.
This was more than a year after my purchase date- and i do not have the pro support- but they ascribed the warrantee to the date they replaced my bad machine and offered to repair my cartridge sensor for free. I shipped them the machine and they shipped it back within 3 weeks, fixed.

Other than that- when I was troubled with bad prints with the first machines, they replaced several liters of resin and a tank for free- and then recently, when I had a cartridge read as “too old” while still half full and another with a failed bite valve that leaked and yet another with a missing sensor chip- they rapidly shipped me replacement cartridges at no charge.

So- when I hear folks talk about how bad their customer support is… I am really at a loss to see what they are griping about.

Thus far, despite some pretty spectacular problems- they have always made good with me in a prompt manner.


#24

Why not? We have products that run at 100k pieces a month with 0 ppm defect and extremely tight deadlines. Before they go into production we do things as A, B, C samples, PPAP, run at rate, etc, These samples go to our customers for approval and yes, a lot if things do go wrong before the final parts. We haven’t seen any Form 3 in the wild, which to me is very surprising. No open beta-testing or teardown like we’ve seen for the Form 2 and that makes me feel like we are dealing with a startup.

Without all this, it feels like we are the beta-testers, so we will never know if the product will meet it’s promises. That’s not how this product was sold to us. I guess time will tell. I think they would have done better by not pushing for so many sales(we were almost stalked -and still are- to buy a Form 3) until the product was in the field and production ramp up was sorted out.

But we’re not in their shoes and many details are not shared so… “Bachelors’ wives and maidens’ children are well taught.” :slight_smile:


#25

you can’t beta test running at scale because a production line is actually producing real products that have real cost. ( unlike software that literally costs you nearly nothing to distribute )

You can do a small run… to produce testing samples- but a small run is Not going to reveal the problems inherent in mass manufacture. Those more carefully made small run items might perform well enough to make you think you have the product nailed down… only to find that one or more components either can’t withstand the more cavalier handling of a full production line… or that it will require some kind of automated assembly machine that does not even exist and you have to have custom engineered.

Among device manufacturers, Apple has about the best reputation for releasing pretty well nailed down products- but that is because they ramp up production and warehouse all that production for months ahead of product release. That’s the kind of thing you can do when your profit margins and share of a huge market afford you 100 billion in cash reserve.
But even then… Apple puts out products with flaws. About the only difference is that Apple knows about the flaws before it releases them and still releases them anyway- because of customer demand, and because they have a warehouse full of the product they manufactured while they discovered the problems in manufacture and design.

So- what you end up doing is Scaling production on the fly. A company being worth 1 billion does Not mean they have a billion dollars. If they are trying to sell a high end product for a low margin, they literally can not afford to do it any other way.

But you are dead on about this ‘feeling’ like a startup. That is the new model for businesses of any size.
Kickstarter Proved that consumers are willing to Buy In on products that are not even being made yet.

That is a HUGE benefit to a company trying to field new products that are costly to produce.
Everywhere I look, corporations are trying out the “Pre-Sale” model.

Hell- the iTunes store even let’s you “pre-order” MOVIE downloads?

Me? i would never order a new type of product in its first year of manufacture. I’ve just been too involved in new product design and production to want to be the guinea pig for some off road vehicle that has never actually been off road.

But I always assumed that the folks who were enthusiastically signing on to be the very first in line for something new and innovative at least understood they were going to be the real world testers of an unproven design.


#26

The Form 3 rollout problems for us as a business are four-fold:

  1. the now-discontinued Form 2 has proven unreliable. It is a fantastic machine that produces amazing models when it is actually working. But we’ve experienced 3 hot swaps in less than 12 months. A very expensive printer with an average in-service lifespan of 4 months before requiring a factory repair is not a sustainable business asset. We experienced another major failure last night (mid-print reset on a refurb machine we received just 2 weeks ago as part of the latest hot-swap) requiring a support request. We expect that last night’s failure will require yet another hot swap and a week of lost production. We will have had 5 very expensive machines in 12 months.

  2. the Form 2 is no longer in production

  3. refurb Form 2s are available but the warranty and service plan ends in a year - see point 1 above.

  4. the Form 3 we ordered is a ghost. Form 3 shipping delays don’t work for us if the Form 2 we have isn’t working reliably.

The Form 3 was sold to us as an improved design (more reliable) of a discontinued model (Form 2) with a reasonable wait period to receive it. That did not happen. So we canceled our Form 3 order and chose not to apply those funds toward a refurb Form 2.

So, while I hear and am sympathetic to the argument that we must make allowances for new technology and the reality that new product rollouts never go smoothly, I run my business to put food on the table for a family of 6. That is also reality. My patience and willingness to make allowances for expensive, paid-for, unreliable machines and paid-for ghost machines that cost in the thousands is limited because, frankly, we have orders to fill, we have to eat and we have bills to pay - now.

From a business perspective, we need an on-hand, 3D printer that will actually print reliably for a period long enough to pay for itself and then some to keep us in business. When a printer fails, we do not have the luxury of sitting back and waxing philosophical about new technology growing pains, Tesla rollout problems, or week-long FedEx delivery dates for hot swaps. When a printer fails, it is a significant, right-now problem that puts our livelihood at risk.

A malfunctioning printer and a ghost printer at the same time are a Big Deal.

Simply put, paid-for Formlabs’ printers are either a help to our business or they are not. And the answer today is that they, both Form 2 and Form 3, are not.

Paying customers voicing concerns about product reliability, reasonable shipping dates, and inadequate corporate responses to complaints is not “conspiracy peddling”. Characterizing valid customer complaints as such does not help solve the very real problems paying customers are experiencing.


#27

@larsenstephen can’t argue with any of what you said, but I do think you left something unsaid: what is the comparable printer you’re going to buy instead?

There are many things I love about Formlabs printers, but also many things I actively dislike, not least of which is the ever increasing F3 delay - so if there’s a relevant alternative I should be looking at I want to know…

In the beginning I think FL definitely stood alone for desktop SL around the $3K mark, (F1, F1+, F2?) but is that still the case? I haven’t been paying as much attention as I used to, but I haven’t seen anything relevant mentioned in the forums here yet.

For reference I don’t think the Sprintray Pro qualifies, or going back a bit, the DWS XFab. I am curious about the Peopoly Moai’s, anyone had any experience with those?


#28

@KevinHolmes that is the big question for us today, right now, and a huge concern. I actually love the Form 2 when it’s working and sincerely hope Formlabs can quickly resolve Form 3 problems. Unfortunately, because we have real needs now, we’re presently looking at other manufacturers’ machines, the B9 Core 550, and machines by Moai and Asiga. Most of those are extremely expensive and/or have ridiculously small build platforms, but we’ve been assured they are available for immediate shipment. Presently, availability and reliability are big considerations.

Even if a comparable machine can’t found, the Form 2 and Form 3 are presently not a viable solution simply because I can’t reliably print with the Form 2 and the Form 3 is a ghost. I hope that changes very soon. I would buy a refurb Form 2, if I had any confidence it would stay running.


#29

It really comes down to what it is you want to print. If you are printing larger models that require the build volume of the Form printer, if you need to use the specialty resins like flex castable, dental, etc. then your choices are either limited or expensive.

If, on the other hand you print smaller models, don’t use special resins, then there are quite a few working and inexpensive solurions, like the Anycubic Photon or the Wanhao D7.


#30

You make a well reasoned argument.

The only counter is to ask why you even thought to order the Form 3 when you have nothing but optimistic corporate promises about what it ‘will’ do?

I am in the exact same boat you are. I need to make a living… and I have been doing digital modelling and sending files to print for 25 years now.
I can’t afford a machine from which I can’t know what to expect.

Like you I have had both good and bad Form 2’s- My first machine sucked so hard
I was was considering demanding my money back and going back to service bureaus.
But the reconditioned machine they swapped it out for has run like a top, and if it can last another year or two with only minor maintenance, then it will have met my expectations in regards to service life.

I applaud and appreciate the folks who are willing to walk the cutting edge of unproven technologies… I’m just not one of them.
It sounds to me like you really aren’t, either.


#31

Interesting comments,
However unless things have drastically changed in industry / engineering principles. You BETA test a product to iron out all the technical issues and THEN you sort out how to put it into production.

Quality control systems should eliminate issues with third party made parts arriving that are wrong, the same should be true of parts made in house. The unit is assembled and then FINAL tested as the final stage of a quality controlled process.

Is Formlabs an ISO 9001 accredited company? Does it use a QMS (Quality management system)? Part of the QMS system should define development and production of new products…

Some one mentioned Apple earlier in this thread:

I mentioned Stratasys

image


#32

yeah- I need the volume, and more importantly, I don’t have the time to be babysitting a printer, teasing more resin into the tank as each build progresses…
I waited to buy my own machine for one that would dispense resin automatically, know the heat and exposure settings so I didn’t have to fiddle with them, was smart enough to detect an issue and pause a print- rather than produce a rat’s nest…
And that offered a wide range of materials for a wide range of different prototypes.

Oh- and cost less than 10,000- which left me with One viable option.

I am watering at the mouth over the IDEA of the Form 3L… but I won’t buy one until I have squeezed every bit of usability out of my Form 2 … and have a year or more of user reviews on the Form 3L on which to base a major spending decision.


#33

“Quality control systems should…”

Sorry- but those placards and qualifications are merely saying that your management is good enough that when they see a product in production that’s not working, they know enough to rework the design.

Look, I’ve been in product development for 35 years.
I’ve worked with bureaus running Stratsys printers for 25 years, and their $100K plus machines have as many problems if not more than any Form 2. And they have a long history of NOT supporting very expensive machines that are only 3 or 4 years old, too.

And, no, We don’t call it beta testing, because production runs are sold to the general public. But in today’s world of "pre-selling’, beta testing is exactly what it really is. When you pre-sell, you have forums threads like this full of folks who forked over money, trashing your company reputation for not delivering on time. That is a HUGE pressure to start shipping products that you know still have issues…

But in fact, NO complex product is fully finalized until AFTER it has been released to the public. And No complex product is fully designed until AFTER it has been put into mass production.
Products ARE routinely tweaked and altered while in production because of problems that only mass production conditions reveal.
It could be that human beings can not reliably assemble a part that there is no automated solution for. It could be that a part that TESTED fine, turns out to fail unpredictably earlier than the supplier warranted. It could be because a Part simply can not be made by anyone in the volumes the market requires… ( remember when Apple was promising Sapphire iPhone faces? )

And products being used in the real world reveal other issues that even the most conscientious team of quality control nerds never could have foreseen.
The old saying in product development is that you simply can not make anything foolproof, because fools are so very ingenious.


#34

Ordered our Form 3 in early May 2019, original ship date was August 2nd, never head from anyone when that date passed by. I reached out to sales but my expectations are now very low. We absolutely love our Form 2 and I do not understand why Formlabs would discontinue the Form 2 before the Form 3 is readily available. My experience with this Form 3 order combined with the eternally evolving Fuse 1 delay tells me that as customers we need to expect that Formlabs will seriously over promise and under deliver on any new products.


#35

If the Form3 had been shipping on schedule then it wouldn’t have been as much of an issue that they had discontinued the Form 2.

Also, the Form 2 wasn’t delayed like this so it’s more of a unique situation.
I think it would help though that instead of taking full cost at the time of preorder they should have taken a deposit


#36

My Form 3, ordered April 10th, finally shipped on Sept 3rd.


#37

Crazy about these shipping stories. I didn’t plan on it but a local guy sold me a form 3 for a crazy price after seeing my post to sell one of my form2’s. Such a great deal I couldn’t pass it up. I hope you all get your machines soon.


#38

F3 on the second hand market already! I hope you bought a lottery ticket as well!!:grinning:


#39

I ordered one … no clue when, canceled the order beginning of august and they still shipped me a machine that is here since 13 days instead of a refund). Nice machine, even if I cannot see it since it is in an unopen box.
So they are shipping … not necessarily to the right people


#40

Let us know if it works, I am on a Facebook Formlabs Dental group, and one users Form 3 printer says its a counterfeit and to contact Formlabs support! Crazy!