On my side, I have been a Form1, 1+ and now Form2 user and obviously, soon a Form3 user. I’m on the artistic side of the 3D printing for my 3D models, for figurine, cosplay stuff and more. I’m looking for fine details and -visual- accuracy for the details. I’m not doing functional parts and using almost only the Grey resin. Then my comments below are limited to these fields.
I have been looking at these low-cost printers since a while and I have been able to work with the Creality LD-001, the Wanhao D7, and the Anycubic Photon. The last one is the best so far and is the only one I kept and still using times to times. I also have the Slash PLUS from Uniz which is targeting the Form2 when you look at specs and price. This Slash has a build volume of 192x122x200mm which is bigger than the Form2. All these printers are MSLA/LCD SLA.
Of course, price is a key factor for these printers as the Photon is less than USD 300 and all of them can work with 3rd party resin and some of them are… cheap. I paid recently EUR 38 for 1L of Anycubic resin.
But now, if you put aside the price and look at performance, print quality, accuracy, etc. then it’s a different world compared to the Form2: For MSLA, you need to overexpose your model when you need to have supports which are reliable. Most of the time, if you don’t overexpose and/or use larger point size, they will just break. So many time I had failed prints because of that. But if you overexpose your resin, then you will have not the quality you are looking for. As an example, for these printers, I’m using 1mm support tip. Sometimes I even need more… Then imagine how bad are my surfaces and how much post work it requires. Also, because of the screen aspect, you see on curved surfaces the aliasing of the screen. We start to see some antialiasing technics, but it’s not perfect yet… The very cheap ones are using 1 LED which results in bad quality of prints when it’s not located in the center.
Then when it comes to the build volume, some of them can print tall models… but the depth axis is so short, preventing large models.
On top of that, look at the whole ecosystem: Preform is lightyear ahead of the other software. Only Mango/(WanhaoDWorkshop) is close. With most software, you can even add/edit supports which are inside your model. And when it comes to cleaning, you need to buy some containers, etc. I don’t even mention having support (through Formlabs, community or resellers)
The real benefit of MSLA is its cost but also its speed. I printed 19cm at 50 microns in less than 10h with the Slash+. Some printers are very popular and have a good community to help, but not all of them, by far…
Globally, my success rate with the Form 2 is 99% (just two prints failed since I have it and one was my own mistake…). With these printers, it’s so much lower. The preparation time is also a lot longer…
Then in a few words, if you want to try SLA and are on a budget, a printer like the Photon is a good choice. But if you want to be a minimum serious, the Form2 is a no brainer and I think the Form3, if it delivers what is announced with surface details (OMG 0.3mm supports tips!) and finishing, is the way to go. Yes, MSLA can print faster, but I prefer a working and good ecosystem, a slower printer which provides me surface quality and more important, is reliable and that I can trust to deliver my prints.
Sorry, it’s a long wall of text