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Formlabs Hackathon : Employees Shape The Future

In 2023, Formlabs was recognised by Fast Company as one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators alongside visionary organizations such as Autodesk, Cisco, Adobe, Spotify and more. The list aims to recognize and celebrate companies “that demonstrate a commitment to capturing great ideas, wherever they originate.” 

Fast Company highlights the annual Formlabs Hackathon as a great source of new ideas and innovation. The Formlabs Hackathon has taken place every year since 2016 (with the exception of 2020 due to the pandemic) and is highly anticipated by Formlabs employees. The three-day event has developed into more than just a tech showcase; it has become a catalyst for innovation and a source of engagement and fulfillment within the Formlabs community. The Hackathon embodies the creative, collaborative, curious, and determined spirit of the company and its people, also known as Formlings. Formlabs takes great pride in fostering this culture of innovation and creating a space to encourage creative thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.

The Hackathon Hustle

During the hackathon, various departments, backgrounds, and skill sets come together to work on projects including those reflecting people’s personal interests, the creation of gadgets, projects relating to office space improvements, hardware optimizations, or those relating to potential future company products. This cross-departmental collaboration can lead to unexpected success—one Hackathon project even developed into a new product now known as Form Auto.

“I like that it lets me work with people I don’t normally work with.”

Jon Evans, Electrical Engineer Manager at Formlabs.

Formlings coming together to work on a project.

Employees across all departments come together to work on a common project during Hackathon.

Formlabs encourages all Formlings, across all offices, to participate, and provides resources and budget to enable a wide range of projects each year. In 2023, a total of 300 Formlings across six different offices participated in Hackathon (Berlin, Budapest, Milwaukee, North Carolina, Somerville)! Through Hackathon, the company strives to invest in both personal and professional interests and the development of its people.

“What I really like about Hackathon is that it gives us a great opportunity to get a lot of hands-on experience in things we don’t normally do.”

Josh Kubiak, PhD, Materials Scientist at Formlabs.

In addition to getting hands-on experience, Hackathon provides employees with opportunities to step out of their comfort zone and develop new and existing skills. Projects like these foster teamwork and allow Formlings to network with their colleagues from other departments or even other offices. This enables stronger cross-functional understanding, as it helps people appreciate what other teams and departments do and how their work contributes to the overall success of the company. And of course, Formlabs Hackathon is a lot of fun.

“Hackathon is really exciting because we have the resources and the support from our teams ti be able to really dedicate our time to this and get excited about it!”

Katie Bradford, Electrical Engineer at Formlabs.

Hackathon Wizards: The Wonders of Formlabs Hackathon

Over the years, the Formlabs Hackathon has produced a remarkable array of projects that have not only wowed our colleagues but also made a lasting impact on our business. Past projects are a testament to the incredible talent and ingenuity that thrive at Formlabs, and they set the stage for the extraordinary ideas we can expect to see in the next editions of Hackathon.

Take a closer look at some of the projects our Formlings have worked on in recent years:

A Formling designed a Formlabs-themed jewelry collection in 2022.

A Formling designed a Formlabs-themed jewelry collection in 2022.

A Formling designed a Formlabs-themed jewelry collection in 2022.

In 2022, Formlings came up with a multitude of exciting projects, ranging from playing Spotify on an old Form 3+ SLA 3D printer, to the creation of a Formlabs-themed accessories line.

A small team of three Formlings turned the Form 3L into a CNC lathe.

A small team of three Formlings turned the Form 3L into a CNC lathe.

Other 2022 projects included converting a Form 3L into a CNC lathe machine, building an outside lounge patio for the Ohio office, and even building an entirely 3D-printed six-foot Mecha-Godzilla.

Six feet Mecha-Godzilla statue.

The Mecha-Godzilla of 2022 is exhibited in our Somerville office.

In 2023, the team that built the Mecha-Godzilla the previous year set out to give their statue a brother and made another six-foot statue. This time, the team built a six-foot 3D printed Mecha-King Kong. We look forward to seeing which character they will build next year !

Six feet Mecha-King Kong statue.

In 2023, Mecha-King Kong joined the family and is now standing next to Mecha-Godzilla.

Another recurring project is the WHCK radio channel. This online, and thus, global project is a radio station where all Formlings can book a slot and become a radio host for an hour. The project started in 2021 and has become a key component of the Formlabs Hackathon. 

In 2023, the WHCK radio went on for 26 hours straight, across time zones, and 20 Formlings became radio hosts for the day. It was a great success and we can’t wait to see next year’s shows!

The WHCK radio setup

The WHCK Radio is a global project where Formlings across all offices come together.

Last, but certainly not least, in 2021, a team of Formlings set out to create an automation system for Formlabs SLA 3D printers. The goal for the contraption was to be able to take the prints off of the Build Platform without any human interaction in order to increase the run-time of our products while minimizing labor required by our customers. Sound familiar? You guessed it, that’s what Form Auto does.

Form Auto prototype during Hackathon 2021.

Form Auto is a groundbreaking product that started as a Hackathon project.

Form Auto prototype during Hackathon 2021.

These events are more than just creative bursts of inspiration; they're powerful engines of growth for our employees and for the company. Formlabs aims at fostering innovation, teamwork, and a culture of continuous learning as we strive to be a place where ideas are not only heard but encouraged. Interested in joining us ? Check out our careers page for all current job openings across all offices.