Formlabs Website Store Support

Want to Create Flexible Outdoor Web-like ProtoType

From the beginning, I am not going to be able to understand acronyms as I am a total Nube to 3D printing, so if you don’t mind, please spell out the terms

Starting from ground zero, I have no design and do not at this point wish to learn the software for this prototype. I will need this designed in the way it is determined to be the best.

Second, I do not know which printer I will need, nor the resin, nor if I will need any other devices.

The prototype: a smaller product that has to be flexible but not too soft, nor rigid. It will also need to be adjustable via a slider mechanism. Size might be 5" vertical x 0.75" depth x 7" horizontal. It would be helpful if I could provide a drawing, but that will have to happen after I get further along.

The form factor will be a web-like design, and fan-like as to slide open and shut, to achieve almost complete non-transparency, while in open position. I realize this sounds complicated, so educate me please

I’m positive I have left many questions unanswered but let’s start here, so I can pick out a design company or person, a printer and any other equipment needed

Lesson 1: It is not possible to determine what you’re hoping to do based on this description.

Lesson 2: Yes. It would be.

Randy, could you make your response clear so I know how to proceed?

Randy has been so very helpful on this forum, but I feel he’s being too polite.

What you’re asking for is a design and build project more suitable for a company that offers these services. This project is well and far beyond what this forum can and should offer.

It needs some materials science and a CAD file that’s printable and which can be assembled, since it looks like it’ll need multiple parts that have to press fit. You have some very specific requirements that don’t take into account the limits of FL technology.


I also don’t think what you’re after is within the realm of possibility with any Form product, with the possible exception of the Fuse. Nylon might work for you, but it’s opaque.


I wish you luck.

Rob thanks very much for the clarity

As I stated this is a first for me and I have almost no understanding of the needs for my project. Would you suggest a means to move toward how I should proceed from here? Are there companies that I won’t have to do as much research on because they are reputable and trustworthy on this site or another to choose from?

As well picking someone with the reputable CAD background?

“I also don’t think what you’re after is within the realm of possibility with any Form product, with the possible exception of the Fuse. Nylon might work for you, but it’s opaque.”

Is this a good machine to consider?

Rather spendy but if you would consider this a good value for the job it can do then I would consider this
I am watching this video:

Randy, Rob has given me a leg up on movement forward with my project, but I wanted to thank you for your expertise and advice thus far. It is always a pleasure to find good straight forward answers in such a responsive and well thought out set of responses. So thank you very much that

I can’t help you with resources. I just don’t have the knowledge.

I wll say that buying a machine for production is the last step to take, after you have the design, and after you have a few trial runs executed by firms that have different production tools. That way you can be sure you’re buying the right technology.

The realm of 3D priniting is changing so fast that a good decision today, could be inferior next week. So do the groundwork, run your prototypes through a variety of companies. Then if all looks good, make the calculation of whether to outsource or buy the means of production.

Give your limited expertise, don’t forget how expensive your education will be. Between the idea and reality is a very wide gap. Most ideas fail because they don’t account for this.

I understand, waiting to purchase the machine, was only following your lead on the Fuse1 in an earlier message. My next step I might use is to open a new discussion on where to find a person who writes software for my project.

Can’t thank you enough for the straightforward responses

Hi , for the CAD part of the conversation, sounds like you are looking for a software which will let you design “lattice” structures to archive various structural goals. There are many tools out there that can do this but you will need to look closely before jumping in to make sure they can do exactly what you are after. Here at Autodesk, we have 2 solutions that can help you generate different types of lattices.
A) Fusion 360:
Video example 1:
Video Example 2:
Video Example 3:
B) Netfabb:
Video example 1: Sualp Ozel P.E on LinkedIn: #formnext #fusion360 #additivemanufacturing | 21 comments

sozul, thank you I will take a look at my first opportunity

I have reviewed all 3 of your links, and another I found on youtube and find that the challenge may be as difficult as Photoshop, but adding new tools I am unfamiliar with. I think I’ll look at a trial or free CAD type tool with tutorials just to see if I can manage this type of design/editor software. I’m not hopeful at present, but can I ask how one gets an estimate for my project when I haven’t even as much as done more than a rough, 3-dimensional set of measurements?

Is it as difficult as getting an answer from a CAD designer ass it is an attorney, beyond the initial consult? Or are there designers who are open to holding a conversation or two before any work begins?

These opening questions I have are making it pretty clear I’m a newbie

Between your idea and reality is a a huge gap.

You need an enormous amount of help in several different disciplines. And working with newbies, ( with what I assume is at best a limitied budget) is a challenge for a professional trying to make a living.

Is there a community college near you? With a department that deals with CAD and additive manufacturing? Since many CC’s are focused on vocational education, it’s likely they have such.

I’d look for help there. They’d be aware of local resources, and appropriate tools. And perhaps have courses you could take to give you the education and experience you’ll need to bring the project to fruition.

That’s a really smart idea. I’ll check with our community college and my Alma Mater University. I am thinking of purchasing the Fuse1, but not yet. I know my market for the product, but I want all my ducks lined up first. Thanks so much for what I could have, but didn’t have thought of from the get go

Please don’t buy your production equipment at this stage!

You have no idea whether it’s the best choice. Besides that, it’ll be some time before you’re ready to get even a prototype made.

It’s such a fast changing industry, you’d be wedded to an out of date technology, that may not even be appropriate. It’s a huge sunk cost for a product that doesn’t exist yet. There very well may be a Fuse 2 when you’re ready.

One step at a time.

This advice from someone who, back in the day, bought 2 copies of $30,000 software before he had the SGI machines to run it on. Way before. But I paid $10,000 each, since I got a last day of the fiscal year, last hour deal from a desparate sales guy.

I’d suggest, when you have files ready to print, you invest in having a few samples made with equipment that you’re interested in, and then choose the one that best suits, at that time.

there is essentially 2 ways to do this:

  • you pitch to a professional design company and try to convince them to develop your idea into a real product. Formlabs have featured a couple companies like this on their blog that use their printers, including Glassboard. (lets be honest, you dont sound like you could make this project into a successful pitch to me but maybe you have more substantial info on your project that you have not shared yet)
  • you develop the idea yourself with potentially some outsourcing of engineering (as far as i know, self employed engineers really hate working with single individuals that only have “one idea” that may or may not be possible and probably isnt well defined, so good luck finding any)

In case you want to pursue the 2nd one, it might be a good idea to look for makerspaces or similar in your area and work on a prototype there.

you definitely dont want to invest in hardware until you have handled at least a prototype

PS: old designer wisdom: ideas are plentiful, the implementation is the hard part.

1 Like

No certainly not, I have no intention of buying any equipment until I am much further along in my project and understanding of the entire process and actual finished prototype and then I would still have marketing to do. Funding is not my problem, process and learning are my starting points.

I merely wanted to clearly expose my need of a type of printing technique, for you and other’s understanding of my project and prototype materials and end-product. But thank you

Good advice and I am in-line with your take


You are understanding my inequities as it comes to being ready to pitch my project, and at the same time, I am not one who fully trusts an NDA. Someones 5th cousin, or friend, who has no connection to my project, but might to a great design company could easily jump in with surprisingly the same idea, and with even better financing than I might have, if you get my meaning. It has happened to me once before so I am leery of the limited power of NDA’s.

And you’re right, until you understand the real use and potential need for this product, I wouldn’t be able to convince you. At this point I’m not sure I can make the deal, but I will have 2 entities to make the pitch to and both of them are big entities

As for purchasing equipment, I would likely purchase a small form 3d printer just for prototype use until the prototype is software tweaked to perfection, or as you say, look for makerspaces nearby. Lots of research to do before much of anything else happens.

Thanks for you advice

That’s why you should also file a provisional patent or at least, legally document your idea. Get it date stamped and Notarized. So if someone violates your NDA you’ve got documentation to prove you came up with the idea first. If you’re willing to consider buying a Fuse1, then you would seem to have the $ to pay an Intellectual Property Rights lawyer for a consult on ways to protect your idea other than keeping it secret so you have to do all the work yourself.

And also, re: buying production material - I think I mentioned in another of your threads that there are 3rd party printers like Shapeways who can fabricate your print for you out of pretty much every material you can think of (they do plastics, ceramics and metals) using the same printing technology as a Fuse1 (Powder). This would be a substantially less expensive way to both prototype your design (hardly anything ever goes together and works the way you expect on the first try, at least, for me anyway) and evaluate the Fuse1 printing method as a possible production process.

Randy has a good idea regarding a provisional patent. It’s air cover, but only lasts for a year. If you don’t move to a full patent application, your rights expire. It does conote serious intent, but it’s not worth that much, since years fly by.

I also agree about NDA’s; they’re for honest people.

If funding is not your problem, hire some folks as contractors to do the design work and build the CAD’s, and have them sign work for hire contracts to protect your IP. Work for hire contracts are solid, and customary.

Your local schools and alma mater should be able to help. Try their alumnii services; they often have people who’s job it is to place graduates, since that helps their rankings!

Thanks, I haven’t as yet had my drawing and description notarized, but it is dated. I will follow up with getting it notarized. Appreciate that advcie