I have the Form 2 for over a month now. I had a lot of prints to do for a client and it literally did not stop running from December 1st to January 16th. I must say this printer is incredible and extremely reliable. However one thing I hate after going through about 10L of resins is the waste, all those cartridges and tanks…ugh. I saw it is the concerns of a lot of people, so I hope FL will go the right direction and offer replacement silicones and being able to refill those cartridges.
So I went the ApplyLabWorks route and here is what I have to say and show.
The prints I did were all the same and I used the grey resin from FL (FormLab) and the grey resin from ALW (ApplyLabWorks) with the same settings. So all things are equal in this comparaison.
I am gonna start slow and go to the big con at the end.
First of, the smell is not as bad as some tell, it has a kind a chemical cedar wood smell haha, but really did not bother me. However if you have the printer in your bedroom, then yes, to hell that smell.
I noticed that the quality of ALW was better. The finish is glossier (it did not matter for me as I had to sand and paint the parts) than FL’s. I had extremely thin walls (on parts unneeded and they were more a design mistake than part of the design itself) and when they failed with FL’s they were perfect with ALW, as shown bellow.
Left is ALW’s and right is FL’s:
As ALW’s resin is glossier, the layers are more visible (left is ALW’s and right is FL’s):
A side note on FL’s resin, is that I found that there is sometimes some cartridge’s plastic that fall in the resin, some kinds of burrs. It ruined some of my prints as I had to pull them out and it left holes:
One of the only cons I had until the big next cons I will describe was the fact that we have to fill the tank manually. Since I had prints lasting for 26h and using 420ml, when it had to be refilled through the night, it would add time to the print (since I am not gonna wake up to fill it in the middle of the night obviously lol), bumping those prints to over 35h sometimes.
I I can’t prove it as I have no pictures, but I saw much less clouding using their resin than FL’s. So it means I could use more resin on one tank (I’d say about 3-4L).
This came as a surprise and made a real mess. ALW’s resin is having a weird reaction with FL’s PDMS and it makes it lift from the tank, slowly lifting until they get big enough so that the resin goes under and SPILLS FROM UNDER!!! When it happened I thought it was the tanks problem, so I switch to a new tank and it happened again. This time I was not around to check it and it had made a mess on my printer. It took me 4h to clean the printer and I do have a small drop that went in the laser area (however just on the side, so it does obstruct any components, but still, scary).
Here are some pictures of the tank and printer:
So yeah it was a mess…
So I reached out to ALW. And a nice guy explained a lot to me.
He said that first of all, FL’s tanks’ quality started to go down the last 12 months, as those PDMS issues started only recently and they even had tanks crack.
But as I really loved their resin, I tried to go more in-depth on how to get that resin to work and he explained to me how to do so.
It all start with recoating. Recoating the PDMS is actually not that complicated and they explain it well here
A quick fix is to buy some silicon glue and actually glue the bubbles down.
He also said that we have to put grossly the resin back into the bottle, so the resin does not sit in the tank too long.
So here is my conclusion:
I loved ALW’s resin and I love that I was able to reduce my production waste. I just wish FL did not go the Blade and Razors business model and forcing us into some very wasteful habits.
So this is what I am going to do:
I am gonna buy myself some Dow Corning Sylgard 184 silicon.
I am gonna buy myself Z-VAT’s glas tanks and I am gonna be as free as a bird.
I am gonna be able to experiment with resins, mixes and stuff.
Is it a bit more work? yes
Is it cheaper? Hell yes
Is it really that much time consuming? I’d say it depend on what you do. If you print 50ml every 2 weeks, then it is maybe not worth the hassle. If you go through a lot of bottles and print non stop then it is not so much time added and worth the money and waste savings.
Hope it helped some of you who did not know if they should give it a try or not.