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Posted by Clare Scott | 3D Printing, 3D Printing Materials, Exclusive Interviews, Sponsored | on Oct 4th 2017
It’s not easy to start a company, and to survive as a startup you need to be able to offer something that people want. ApplyLabWork definitely hit upon something that people want: quality 3D printing resins that are more affordable than most of the leading brands on the market. The California-based company offers resin materials that are comparable to those leading brands, at a fraction of the cost. While ApplyLabWork is a young startup, it’s seen a great deal of success so far, building an already-loyal customer base. For more information on the company’s success, we were able to speak to ApplyLabWork’s Kevin Chen about the startup’s beginnings, as well as its present and future.
Tell us about ApplyLabWork’s history. When and why was it founded?
“ApplyLabWork was founded in 2015 by me and another founding partner as well as close friend and, due to our chemistry, material science and manufacturing background, we have developed passion in the 3D printing industry. Back in 2013, we started to notice the emergence of desktop 3D printers that were user friendly and cost competitive, thanks to the introduction of Form1 and many others to follow. We knew that this trend will continue and will bring about the proliferation of 3D printing and the start towards decentralization of traditional manufacturing. In the following two years, the prices of 3D printers continued to decline whereas the performance were quickly approaching industrial printers. However, we noticed that the material prices stayed high, which we believed is an impediment for 3D printing to gain wider acceptance. My partner and I saw the void in the market and that people were looking for quality resins at affordable prices and that was when the seed for ApplyLabWork was planted. With our background and network, we brought together a group of talented scientists and chemists from material science, printing, composite, coating, textile and built up our R&D lab.
To ensure resin quality as well as bringing the best value for our customers, we built our own manufacturing facility and website and sell directly to end users so that our customers can enjoy quality resins at the most affordable prices possible.”
What kinds of 3D printing technology does the company work with?
“ApplyLabWork is currently focused on developing photo-based (SLA/DLP) printing materials, categorized into 4 groups:
ApplyLabWork has introduced materials from the first 2 groups:
Design Concept Series:
Prototype Engineering Series:
Prototype Flex-metallic: With its unique elongation capabilities, it aims to assist engineering developments that require bending and flexibility”
How has business been recently?
“With a little over a month in the market, ApplyLabWork has received very positive feedbacks from our customers who are hobbyists, engineers, dental labs and print service bureaus. Customers are sending us pictures of their prints and commented how easy it is to use our resins and are very happy with the savings they receive. One of our major customers, a dental lab, commented that our resins have the same precision and accuracy as the leading brands and enable them to cut their material costs by 2/3. In fact, our customers are so pleased with our resins that 80% of them have already made repeat purchases. Many of our customers are also providing valuable suggestions for our future product development which we have incorporated in our R&D efforts to further improve our materials and to better serve our users and supporters.”
What sets ApplyLabWork apart from other similar companies?
“ApplyLabWork is different from most other 3rd party resin providers due to the fact that we are vertically integrated. From R&D to testing, manufacturing to packaging, marketing and distribution, we handle everything in house to ensure the quality of our resins and to pass down the savings to our customers. In our R&D lab, we formulate and synthesize our own materials. Moreover, we can customize our materials under special requests or partnerships.
Another thing that sets ApplyLabWork apart is that we have developed truly compatible resins for FormLabs printers. Our resins were tested extensively on Formlabs’ printers so our resins are ‘plug and play’ with easy setting in Formlabs’ PreForm and our prints’ quality and details are great that customers told us that we are the best 3 rd party resins they have used.
Other than Formlabs printers, our resins were tested successfully on WanHao D7 Replicator, Peopoly, Morpheus, Titan, Pegasus,….etc.”
What has been the company’s biggest accomplishment so far?
“We went from a business idea to market with favorable reviews was very rewarding in itself.
Our biggest accomplishment is that we have delivered truly quality SLA/DLP resins at the most affordable prices in the market, which was our company mission when we started ApplyLabWork. From the very beginning, we knew that we need to provide quality, turnkey resins and we refused to cut corners or to compromise on our resin quality so all our resins have been tested extensively before they went out. This is and has always been our attitude toward our products. Our customers are very impressed with our resin’s mechanical properties and print details and are very happy with the cost savings. I think ‘Very Impressed’ is the most common feedback since we introduced our resins in August and our team feels very encouraged. These positive feedbacks and high customer retention rate are testaments of our ability to deliver quality resins and for the hardwork we’ve put in.”
What are some of your plans for the future?
“Currently, we are working on clear and gray resins to be added under Design Concept Modeling Series as well as Castable resin under Specialty Series, which is at the final stage of development and field testings to finalize the material.
The most challenging is Functional Engineering Series material group that aims to have printed parts equal to or better than conventional manufactured parts.”
Is there anything else you would like to add?
“Being a small startup with big dreams, we ApplyLabWork strive to provide maker-community more values through low-cost and high-quality materials, so innovators alike can focus on each’s talent and, together, we can do more and waste less. At ApplyLabWork, we see 3D printing as a ‘TOOL’, like a hammer, a chisel, a saw, a paint brush…and makers, as artists, are free to create on any material of their choice.”
With ApplyLabWork’s low-cost alternative resins, makers have more choices than before about the materials they can use. To learn more about the company and its resins, visit its website here.
3D printing, as a whole, is becoming more affordable. Several low-cost 3D printer options are now on the market, and even many high-end 3D printers have become relatively less expensive, allowing more people to have access to the technology than ever before. 3D printing is still an investment, however, because of the ongoing cost of [...]