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3D-printing company Formlabs grabs $150 million from SoftBank, plans to hire in Massachusetts

Formlabs chief executive Max Lobovsky in the company's print farm room.
Formlabs chief executive Max Lobovsky in the company's print farm room.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

3D-printing company Formlabs has raised $150 million from Japanese giant SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, doubling its valuation to $2 billion, the company announced Wednesday.

Founded by MIT graduates in 2011, Formlabs sells 3D printers for making products it says can be found in operating rooms, dentist offices, and shoe stores, and it works with companies including Ashley Furniture, Google, Northwell Health, and New Balance. The company’s goal is to expand the use of 3D-printing technology by making it more accessible and affordable — the company’s low-end printer model costs $3,500.

“Today, most 3D printing technology is still too expensive and difficult to use for widespread adoption,” said Formlabs chief executive Max Lobovsky in a press release. “Our laser focus on improving the user experience and quality of these machines while bringing down the cost is central to our success and the growth of the industry.”

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Lobovsky told the Globe that Formlabs is on a path to becoming a public company. Formlabs generates $100 million in annual revenue, and Lobovsky said the company is “already much larger in revenue than many public 3D-printing companies.”

“This round of fundraising gives us the flexibility to go public when we are ready to be a growing, successful, sustainable, predictable public company,” he said in an e-mail, adding that is “something that others in this field have not achieved.”

How it would go public remains the question. Other local 3D-printing companies have said they would go public through a SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, and Lobovsky previously told the Globe that he had been fielding calls from SPAC executives about a potential acquisition. Watertown-based Markforged said in February that it would go public through a $2.1 billion SPAC merger, and competitor Desktop Metal, which is based in Burlington, is already publicly traded after completing a $2.5 million merger last year.

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Bloomberg reported earlier this week that SoftBank is considering launching a SPAC in Europe, planning to potentially raise $300 million. During the latest financial year, various arms of the Japanese conglomerate have raised a combined $3.3 billion for nine US-listed SPACs, according to Bloomberg.

Formlabs, citing an industry forecast in its press release, estimates the 3D-printing annual market will top $51 billion by 2026. It plans to use money from SoftBank to grow its technology portfolio and expand its mass production and customization capabilities.

“We believe the 3D-printing industry is currently standing at the precipice of unprecedented growth and is transforming the way products are made,” said Deep Nishar, a senior managing partner at SoftBank who will join the company’s board of directors. “We are excited to partner with Max and the Formlabs team to support their ambition to enable anyone to make anything.”

Formlabs has 350 employees based in Somerville, and it plans to hire about 100 more workers in Massachusetts by the end of the year. Formlabs also employs about 300 people across its offices in Germany, Japan, China, Singapore, Hungary, and North Carolina.


Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8.