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Formlabs, maker of desktop 3D printers, collects $19 million in fresh funding

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 24, 2013 07:30 AM

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Big funding round being announced this morning by Formlabs, the Somerville startup company that ran a wildly-successful Kickstarter campaign last fall for a new 3D printeró†and was promptly sued for patent infringement by 3D Systems, the industry's biggest player. After collecting almost $3 million in pre-orders for its Form1 printer on Kickstarter, Formlabs is banking $19 million in new funding from investors including DFJ Growth and Pitango Venture Capital.

formlabsteam.jpgNot bad for a company that, when I visited in September 2012, had just begun building its first handful of production printers. Formlabs says it has since shipped 900 of the machines, which now sell for $3300. They use a Blu-ray laser to transform a light-sensitive liquid resin into solid three-dimensional objects. My favorite video showing the Form1 at work is below.

The company has now raised $20.8 million in equity investment (that doesn't include the $3 million of Kickstarter pre-orders.) It says it'll use the new funding for hiring in Somerville, and also expanding the company's international marketing and customer support capabilities.

As for the patent infringement suit, which hasn't yet been resolved, co-founder Natan Linder writes via e-mail, "There are conversations going on that we canít comment on. But itís not stopping us from doing what we need to do to bring the product to market, and to make Formlabs the best 3D printer out there."

Formlabs was founded in 2011 by a trio of engineers and researchers from MIT's Media Lab. (One of the three founders, David Cranor, pictured at left in the photo, left the company at the end of last year. In the middle is Linder, and on the right is Maxim Lobovsky.) There's a fun story about how they got their initial funding which involves Mitch Kapor, a meal at Legal Seafoods, and a tweet. You can read it here.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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