A response to Sam_Jacoby


#1

Continuing the discussion from Form1+ laser flare issues illustrated - pics and video:

@Sam_Jacoby

My intent with this thread is not to revive the thread @Sam_Jacoby, perhaps rightly, killed for becoming unmanageable and to spread across too many topics. It is just to reply to his closing statements in that thread.

Glad to hear you have enjoyed the thread, and found it informative. I’m sure all the customers who worked hard to discover for themselves and understand exactly what was wrong with their printers appreciate that you found their journey informative.

I think you missed the point here. I’m fairly certain the real concern was that you were not taking action on the array of material demonstrating a vary real defect that at least some of the new Form1+ “upgrades” have, resulting in them printing worse than their predecessors. I think the reason you heard concerns that you at Formlabs were not listening is we all held hope that that was the reason you guys were not in any visible way actively working to do something about this problem, or interacting meaningfully to help us. Having the reassurance you have all been reading all along and this is all the response we get is almost worse.

On this point I agree. However I’d like to add my notes. Definitely contact support, despite my outspoken dissatisfaction with much of my personal experience with the support team, they are still here to help, and for a very large range of problems will do an excellent job. However do not take @Sam_Jacoby’s comment that the printing problems you may be seeing can be solved elsewhere as encouragement not to read through this thread, be as informed about your printer as you can. There may well be times when the support team can not or will not be of much help, the more knowledge you have the more you can help yourself. However also be careful not to jump to assumptions that you have a flare problem or any other specific diagnosis of your printer. It is a complicated machine. Be open to other suggestions about what may be wrong with it, and try to understand it well enough so when it doesn’t do something correctly you know not only how to work around the problem but also how and why the problem occurred.

This is a sticky point for me. I completely understand where you are coming from, and in many ways agree. However I think there is something you are missing here. You have customers who feel disenfranchised by your support staff and their methodology. I know for a fact I am far from the only one. This may be due to your company policy, or a culture thing, but it is quite true none the less. For these customers there only hope to get problems with their printers fixed is going through your support staff. I know that I and a fair numbers of others, have been left variously feeling, ignored, dismissed, insulted, belittled, ridiculed, and threatened by members or your support staff. I agree that singleing out individuals on public forums is a harsh and far less than ideal way to deal with the problem, however the only routes of direct communication I have with the company are through the support team or the forums, and I am not inclined to think filing a ticket to say I am unhappy with the treatment I have received from the support team is going to help. All this said, I will try to minimize my public declarations of discontent with individuals on the support team, as I don’t like it either, and I hope your company will in turn publicly and actively address the very real problem of users feeling failed, hurt, and offended by your support team, and also of having no further options when they are.

Multiple users have at various times been told quite clearly and quite directly on multiple occasions that laser flare DOES NOT effect prints, that the flare is less than 1% of the power of the beam and, that is not how your resin works. ALL of these statements are direct dismissal. The fact that one person from Formlabs suggested that it is possible you guys MIGHT have been wrong about that in one post does not change the fact that the majority of what we have heard from Formlabs on the topic has been either direct dismissal or extreme skepticism, and downplaying.

Even in your own wording here you act as if the artifacts being seen here are a normal and acceptable case considering the challenges that Formlabs faces. However I know all three Form1 printers I went through did a fine job of printing the rook, not perfect but quite good, except my first one after the laser failed. When my laser started to fail and I noticed a rook print come out much like they do on my current printer, you guys recognised there was a problem with my printer. Now all of a sudden the engineering challenges that Formlabs faces are so great that it is acceptable for my new Form1+ upgrade to fail to be able to print the same model the same way that has worked for me on all of my previous ones. I also know most of the others in this thread have seen artifacts severe enough that they would have been unacceptable from the Form1.

I’m glad your proud and confident in what you do, but yet again I think you missed what was actually happening here in this thread. I do not think anyone in this thread believed all prints SHOULD or WILL come out uniformly spectacular at all resolutions, nor do I think they believe any resolution SHOULD or WILL necessarily work well for any model. I don’t believe they were complaining that either of those cases were not true. As you have noted yourself the people participating in this thread have a very deep understanding of how these printers behave and they are not fools. Your very suggestion that our complaints were that we didn’t have these clearly unrealistic and ridiculous standards met, is really quite offensive and another example of you being dismissive of your users.

One of the major complaints the people in this thread did have is that methods for successful printing they had reasonably come to expect to work, through their long history working with Form1 machines no longer worked on their new “upgraded” machines. Orientations and resolutions that had always worked before no longer did. The things they had learned to avoid doing where no longer enough to result in good prints. They then reasonably assumed there was something wrong. When Formlabs proved no help in understanding and generally dismissed the problem, they did a thorough exploration of the problem to try and understand why their “upgraded” printers were no longer doing as good a job as there old ones did.

On the topic of your team being focused on successful prints it’s nice that you have this focus however I didn’t purchase successful prints. I purchased a printer which I expect to work correctly. If I bought a new car, and realized from day one the car would not hold a charge and would only start if I jumped it, and then I talked to the dealers mechanics, I would expect them to fix it. However your focus on successful prints is more like the mechanic saying “Oh, well have you tried jumping it? It’s what you are supposed to do when the battery doesn’t have a charge. If that works you might need to jump it every time, but we are done helping you.” The problem here is that just because it is perfectly reasonable to expect a car owner to, on occasion, when appropriate, need to jump their car, it does not follow that it is acceptable if a car owner can get successful starts by looking at all of the tools at ones disposal including the jumper cables that is all the dealers mechanic should worry about. If a car dealer did that they would likely not last long, as customers would not take that kind of abuse.

On the topic of your comment about those of us looking for the perfect machine for all situations, you once again are insulting and essentially mocking the participants of this thread. As you yourself noted the people in this thread have a deep knowledge of this printer. All of them chose this printer for what it could do, have learned and accepted the reasonable limitations of it, then gotten a machine that does not perform as well as the Form1 did in many cases, they have come to the reasonable conclusion that it should and what they expect is not “the perfect machine for all situations” but merely a machine that performs as well as a Form1 but faster, as in exactly what you told them they where buying, and without worrying about the laser eventually dying. Clearly some printers you are currently shipping are living up to this lofty standard. However clearly some are not, we just want to be in the group of people in possession of ones that are.

A common problem I think we have in our communications here seems to be that Formlabs considers any printer that through some method can be coaxed into making somewhat decent parts as equal to any other that can as well. This results in you distributing printers of a very broad range in quality. Some of these most people would call clearly defective but still get past your lenient quality standards because someone could make it work. While others are quite good and require far, far less effort to get to do what you want, and produce significantly better results. The problem is that once a user starts to see what a good machine can do they quite reasonably conclude that is what it is supposed to do, and if their machine doesn’t do relatively close to that they feel quite rightfully they have a defective printer. In my case I have printed the rook on all four Formlabs printers I have owned the first three set my standard expectation. For print quality the second was actually the best, but I was still perfectly happy with the third. Then I printed it on my fourth, my current Form1+ and relative to the others the print quality was absolutely awful. Formlabs seems to be suggesting here that if I can find some way to work around the flare problems it has and none of the others did, to get a successful print this new one is adequate and I am being unreasonable for being upset about the flare. Meanwhile the way I see it I paid good money to go from my old printer with good print quality to one that has a defect resulting in artifacts that seriously decrease my print quality on some prints that I now have to find a workaround for to get a decent print. I know a large portion of the other participants in this thread are in a similar position to me.

Not that I expect you at Formlabs to accept this, but I do have a suggestion to fix the problem I just discussed. Set tight well thought out tolerances, for your parts, assembly, and calibration. Create a very extensive suite of test prints that actually stress areas where you may get variability in prints, or were you have seen variability in the prints of your user base. If you notice much variability when printing this suite on different printers, find the source and tighten the tolerances. Do this until you can confidently print the same .form file on multiple machines and get virtually the same result. I know in the past I have discovered that you have no tolerances, or tolerances which are to loose for at least the following list, levelness of the PDMS of the tray, lifespan of the laser, difference in angle between the tank and the platform, 0 position of the platform relative to the position of the tray, and now acceptable level of laser flare, and lifespan of the plastic on the tray. I know a couple of these you have done something about. However any variation great enough so a given .form file may print correctly on one and not on another, is likely to quite reasonably be seen as a defect by a user, and you guys still have lots of variation great enough for that to happen. I know all of that costs money, but if you can’t afford to build Form1+'s consistently enough to print virtually any .form file that prints successfully on a different Form1+ and get virtually the same results with just the touch of a button, why are you selling it as a simple printer to be used with just the touch of a button.

Thanks for the complement, I think the participants in this thread appreciate it, even if they might prefer you treated them as such instead of just saying it. And for those who are somehow managing to get usable prints but are also quite confident their printers are not functioning as well as the should? Don’t you suggest they get the problems with their printers fixed before their warranties run out?

While I think it’s true we are doing R&D in this thread, and also think an R&D section would be good, I think that this thread was exactly where it belonged. It was a discussion about a problem which multiple users printers are having. Despite the fact that Formlabs was woefully absent in providing support, since that left the users to do extensive R&D in their attempts to troubleshoot the problem and hopefully persuade Formlabs to provide the needed support, this really seems quite appropriate right here in Support & Troubleshooting.

So in closing, I know this response has been rather harsh at times, but my goal is really to see the community and Formlabs come together. I feel it has expressed a huge number of real concerns the community has, admittedly biased from my viewpoint. I would really love to have an actual open discussion on any of the points I have brought up, though history suggests you will not respond to me. So if the conversation ends here I hope at least you do find value in some of what I have said. Thanks for listening.

For all other users that have followed along and have anything further to say, or who agree or disagree with any of my points, I encourage you to reply and let your thoughts be known, or at least click the like button on this post. To @KevinHolmes, @EvanFoss, @Ante_Vukorepa, @JoshK, @Steve_Johnstone, @SachaGloor, @Monger_Designs, @KenCitron, @Christopher_Eyhorn and everyone else who contributed to this it thread. It was good fun, we should do it again sometime :smile:, and if you are one of the one’s afflicted with excessive flare good luck getting your machines fixed.


Retro Form 1+ Guide
Bad print and platform motor problem
#2

Hey — I hear you, @RocusHalbasch. It sounds like in some respects I was conflating two concerns, and I apologize for that.

First — your machine’s problems do sound serious. I know that support is looking into ways to move on them quickly. Our engineering and manufacturing teams are also looking into the issues you guys have outlined. I know it’s been frustrating. You move a lot faster than we do. We’re working on reliably replicating the print problems (thanks for all of the detail) and undoubtedly, a more comprehensive and rigorous QA process could well be the result. Thanks for your specific thoughts, there, as well. We may well have to do something like that, given the degree of variation that has been described.

Second — the work and attention that you and many others having been putting into understanding the machine and how it functions is awesome. I’d love to see that continue (absent, perhaps, some of the more focused language about our support team and intention — thanks for hearing me on that).

I want apologize if I ever sounded condescending to any of you — that was certainly not my intention. To your points about our support team minimizing the issue at hand — our own knowledge of some of these problems have been changing over time, so our messages may have shifted.

I appreciate the thought you’ve put into this, and honestly, having all of you invested in what we do is so, so important. I do know that particularly inside our company, your words are heard loud and clear. You’d be surprised how many of us know ya’ll on “firstname” basis.

So hey, thanks for the tough love and for sticking with us. And if you can come up w/ a better forum topic title, well…, you’ve already got my attention :wink:.


#3

Blimey @RocusHalbasch - quite the tl;dr essay - but actually, once I started I couldn’t stop - a great summary.

Not 100% with you on “feeling, ignored, dismissed, insulted, belittled, ridiculed, and threatened” - but then I’m not against you on that point either. I mean that one guy did bring up voiding my warranty, but then @Sam_Jacoby jumped in quite promptly so that instance was ok. But even when arranging my upgrade I was warned not to open up my machine or I could “void my warranty”.

Certainly I’ve had my frustrations with FL support - and I remain frustrated at the lack of any meaningful response from FL about the flare. Which as you note, is especially galling when considering that we now know that some F1+ lasers (eg @SachaGloor’s results on both mine and your test files) have very little noticeable (if any) impact from flare.

So, pretty strongly worded - but I have to agree. The original F1 laser performed much better than many F1+ lasers including mine (but not all it seems!) for as long as it worked, and my upgrade has actually turned into a very significant downgrade.


#4

That list is more of a collection from multiple people’s experiences than something any one person I’ve talked to has experienced. I for example have not felt threatened but have talked to people who did.


#5

@RocusHalbasch Thanks for starting this thread. There has been a lot of debate in my office about this with in my engineering department. We were actually talking about sending some subset of our department over to formlabs to see if it would be easier to explain in person.

I have to agree with @KevinHolmes don’t feel ridiculed, insulted or threatened. I do feel dismissed. We put in a lot of posts and @CraigBroady did say “We’re always looking to see if we can make it better, and welcome suggestions, but lasers are a tricky beast.” back in post 41. I wanted to see an engineer at formlabs breakdown why a spatial filter and collimator are not going to work. Yes it sounds fancy but look at the darn photo I posted one lens and a hole.

I know we all loved that other thread but @Sam_Jacoby had a point around 300 posts it got hard to read. I remember how scared I was about suggesting we get a Formlab printer because of the laser failures. I can only imagine what that thread must have looked like to the uninitiated.

[quote=“RocusHalbasch, post:1, topic:3398”]

A common problem I think we have in our communications here seems to be that Formlabs considers any printer that through some method can be coaxed into making somewhat decent parts as equal to any other that can as well.
[/quote] This resonates with me. The labs senior engineer had taken particular interest in the issues I was having and was actually down taking measurements. I was about to post them when the thread was abruptly locked.

I do not have an opinion of customer support outside of the forum because I have yet to open a ticket for my issue. I will but I wanted to understand things better and see what solution they would post. Sending the printer back with out that information felt like a gamble because of how many times you, @KevinHolmes and others seem to have to send printers back to get a working one.

@Sam_Jacoby I will write a response specifically to you but not now. It is almost 3AM and this is technically a work issue for me. No reason to burn weekend time on it.


#6

@RocusHalbasch I can see you’ve put a great deal of thought into this post. As a SLA newbie I’m very grateful for all the time and effort you and others put into helping community. I was particularly interested in your early experiences with the original Form1 and your thought on print quality between the two.

IMO the two main issues been discussed here are FormLabs support policies and the laser flare issues.

I feel more qualified to discuss FormLab’s support policy as I’ve had first had experience of horrendous support by another “market leader” in consumer 3D printing, MakerBot. It was bad when I purchased my MakerBot R2X two and a half years ago, but has got progressively worse. I’m appalled at what this company has become and how it now treats it customers.

Please bear in mind that this is just my experience, but FormLabs support has been the complete opposite. Make no mistake, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, but I honestly believe they are trying to do the right thing. One distinguishing feature between the two companies is FormLab’s willingness to discuss and to contribute to the conversations on the Forum. Makerbot interaction to their forum was purely as moderators. At time deleting posts that were negative to their products or company and 6 months ago they closed the google groups forum altogether.

With regards to the laser flare issue I feel less qualified to comment. I was honestly relieved when @kevin started the post as for the first time I felt that the issues I was experiencing weren’t all operator error. My conversations with FormLab’s support took on a whole new direction and I expect much of that was due to FormLabs paying attention to what was been said on the forum.

I’ve since been allocated a dedicated support engineer to work with on my issues. It was he who suggested using the printer in an environment with a warmer ambient temperature. Doing so resolved the major issues and I can now print usable parts.

Do I believe by printer is operating as advertised?

Certainly not, but I honestly believe we are working together to find a solution. As a few have pointed out, exchanging printers could leave you with a printer that’s worse. It’s not ideal, but I would much rather work with FormLab’s to pin down the fault before sending it in again.

Some thoughts

  • Anyone who believes they are experiencing laser flare issues really
    should raise a support ticket.

  • It may be advantages for FormLab’s to allocate us the same support
    engineer for this particular issue. This way there will be less
    opportunity for miss understandings or contradictory advice etc.

  • Could someone from FormLabs PLEASE publish an optimum laser spot test
    image.


#7

@Sam_Jacoby, I’ve just noticed that there is a timer on this post and it will automatically be closed in 13 days.

Is there any particular reason for this?


#8

@Steve_Johnstone To be fair if you leave this thread open indefinitely it will get bumped every time anyone has a beef with there @Sam_Jacoby or formlabs. That would make the content of it spread to all kind of random and probably petty grievances. This thread only has meaning in this context. I hope for everyones sake we never revisit this kind of thing.


#9

@RocusHalbasch, thank you and everyone else for all the time you have put into diagnosing the laser issue. I just took delivery of my Form 1+ and the laser thread was frightening, enlightening, and extremely informative. Having never used a 3D printer before, my viewpoint is a little skewed since I am still consumed by the WOW factor.

I am currently printing prototypes for a customer, and so far the prints have been amazing. I don’t have a complaint yet, but after reading the referenced thread curiosity got the best of me. I conducted the laser spot test, and to the naked eye it looks like a perfect circle. I attempted a picture but it may be a little overexposed. There are very slight points coming off the center dot, the top one is pretty darn small and the bottom a bit more noticable. What’s your take on it? Is this considered major or minor flare?

My printer is a “new old stock” Form 1+ upgrade, or how sales put it - “Factory Reconditioned Form 1+”.

I have started the helical walls test print and will see how it looks in about 4 hours.

So far this forum has been an excellent help and has brought me up to speed fairly quickly so I thank everyone for the useful information!


#10

A laser spot test is not enough to tell anything on it’s own I don’t think. I think you probably don’t need to worry though. If the helical walls test comes out pretty clean I’d say you are probably fine. The details are still being worked out. But my guess and hope is most printers are not seriously effected enough to be very noticeable. I intend to post a thread specifically on better analysis of the laser spot test using a DSLR camera sometime soon though so if you do run into problems or just want to know more about why the laser spot test is not enough on it’s own then check it out once I have it up.


#11

@Steve_Johnstone — a week or two ago, I believe we set it so that all threads will autoclose. The idea was to prevent “zombie” threads from resurrecting, and encourage people to post in new threads w/ specific topics! I think it’s only after two weeks of inactivity, but I’m actually not certain.


#12

From what i’ve seen, yes, this thread isn’t special, they’re all set to expire in 13 days.
It’s a recent change, but totally unconnected to this particular subject or thread.

Just one thing to add Rocus’ very eloquent and well thought out answer:
QA should seek out negatives, not positives.

By that, i mean that quality assurance procedures should strive to find an excuse to not let a machine through, not to let a machine through. Yes, i know proving a negative is always harder, and yes, i know most of today’s industry is, sadly, geared only towards getting as many units out as possible in a given time (quantity), not towards getting out as good units as possible (quality), but hey - you’re not building a mass product here anyways :slight_smile:

Finally, a small disclaimer for anyone reading my posts. Anything and everything i say about Form1(+) is based on second hand experiences. On the contrary, anything and everything i say that’s not explicitly directed at Form1(+) is based on my experiences as a DIY 3D printer builder/tweaker/poker. Until my own Form1+ shows up at my doorstep (which should be in a few weeks, i hope) i’m reserving any/all judgements and trying hard not to be anxious about what will greet me when i do that first test print :wink:

And don’t think that that is because of what has been written on this forum either. I know forums always expose the worst aspects and bugs of a product, as well as the worst samples of a product. It’s not that. It’s just that i somehow always have the worst luck with products and never get a good sample on the first attempt. Never. It’s become something of a running gag with everyone who knows me - i’ve become something of a lightning rod for products.


#13

@Sam_Jacoby so how about that R&D section?


#14

My last 2 cents on this.
I see exactly where Sam is coming from on this. For the most part it seems from what I gathered that these tiny lasers in general have problems, some much worse than others. But posting the issue can cause panic and may lead some to believe that there is a problem with their printer when it could be and usually is something else ie: dirty mirror, poor handling of resin etc.
Having users go through tech support channels first would be ideal to eliminate the other possibilities and reduce the panic and hysteria and not make Formlabs as a company look shotty when they in fact aren’t.

Josh pointed out a choke system, I think a simple lens cap type device with a pinhole that could be just clipped on the end of the lasers on the machines that do in fact have flares so bad they affect the prints. This is something that could be possibly even printed on the Form1.

Though my flare doesn’t seem to be any issue though some suggest it is, I haven’t really experienced any problems with prints so long as I orient them the right way. If it does as the machine ages I will certainly make a cap and test. Right not I am not taking my machine apart to fiddle since I need it for work and do not want to compromise it or void any warranty.


#15

@KenCitron See my post here Form1+ laser flare issues illustrated - pics and video for why it seems that Josh just got lucky - and that a simple aperture is probably not an answer.

The main reason is that the laser beam is not collimated, it’s just fairly crudely focused with single fixed lens glued in front of the laser diode, (there are no focus adjustable lenses in the laser barrel thread as there were with the original form1) with the lens focusing the beam to a point approximately 30cm in front. At the laser outlet, the beam is large and square and pretty much uniform with no flare visible, it’s only at about 10cm from the laser that the flare profile clearly becomes apparent.


#16

I’m on my fifth printer now and I did get much better quality prints with the Form 1s when they worked than I am with my F1+ so far. Higher resolution prints have flaws galore now. @KevinHolmes Is the change of laser type the likely cause of that then? Earlier printers only did well at .05 which I was fine with, but now I’m only getting good results at .1 while I’m glad to be printing again I have seen prints with this level of detail from some FDM printers and with materials a fraction of the price.


#17

@VinceErb not 100% what you mean by “laser-type” - but yes the change in the laser causes flaking and quality issues. Whether it’s responsible for your issues I couldn’t say without examples - I mean even with the new laser and it’s issues, I really think you’d be hard pressed to find an FDM printer that can produce better quality - although of course it depends on the prints - large vertical(or near) prints at 50/25 micron will be problematic on a lot of F1+ printers (though not all!)

As I say depending on what you’re printing and if you’re not attempting to use the entire build platform (eg on my machine it seems the area near the hinge is pretty much off limits) - If you’re getting results worse than FDM then perhaps you have another issue potentially on top of laser flare.

My feeling is that the flare from the new laser in the F1+ is down to using a single cheap “good-enough” fixed lens (glued in place, it could equally be the process for placing the lens as much as the lens itself - my laser beam is off center and at a slight angle to the laser barrel axis) but which is actually quite variable in the quality of the laser profile it generates- vs what I believe was a collimating lens pair in the original F1 that seemed to produce consistent results.


#18

@VinceErb “fifth printer”: so I take it that’s 3 replacements and one upgrade? - was one of your replacements an F1+ as well - or were all the replacements orginal F1s?


#19

I had 3 originals and I’m on my second plus. The first plus would only make globs


#20

@VinceErb Sorry to hear your first plus was a dud, did you figure out what the issue was, or did they tell you?