Broken Laser?

Our printer at the office has started to act more and more crazy as the prints has started to malfunction and look deformed.

I work as an industrial designer and the company that hires me offered me to use their printer, a Formlabs Form 2, they bought back in 2015 december 22. They had only used it 5-6 times when it was newly bought and then they realized that 3D-printing wasn’t as easy as they thought and the printer became un-used. Until a year ago they offered me and my colleague to use the printer and we were amazed by the result. But his spring the prints started to vary in success. The printer started to fail and the outcome was prints that had big holes and the finish was kinda blurry or smudgy.

We contacted the company that sold the printer to us and we started fail searching. We have done everything to it. Pulled it apart, cleaned it, sent the company logs and files, updated, resetted and so on but everything seems to be right. So he suspects that it is the laser that is failuring. Then the guy at the company checks receipt of the printer and basicly returns. “The printer is to old so there is no warranty left. You have to send the printer in it’s original box back to Germany for a service. If you want me to do anything more in this arrend you have to pay 10 000 Swedish kronor (Something like $1000) and I will start an service case for you”.

Is this resonable? We have printed 88 prints and used 5.5 litres (1.45 gallons) of resin and it has to do a $1000 dollar service! And if I understand everything right we can’t even send it to service since we don’t have the original packaging box left. I have seen more other with this problem and as I see it it is an production flaw of the printer and warranty shouldn’t be a factor here.

can someone please help me. The company here in Sweden won’t even help me if they don’t get their $1000.

Best regards


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If indeed you went through all the steps, including cleaning the galvos and thorougly checking the resin and resin tray, it is possible that it is the laser, just as your reseller told you. Then you’re kinda out of luck. IMO, this is indeed something that shouldn’t happen (seems that Formlabs went cheap on the laser diodes they use), but you’ll have a hard time trying to get them to replace the laser for free on a printer from 2015…

pretty much all laser diodes are cheap.

They are subject to quantum effects that cause the conductors on either side of the semiconductors to tunnel thru and eventually stop functioning.
About the only thing you can blame Formlabs for is not making the laser a user replaceable component. ( tho they appear to have addressed this in the Form 3 by ,making the entire optical assembly user replaceable. )

So- yeah sorry its 4 years old. that is about as long as you can expect a smart phone to run without troubles, too.
A $1,000 repair is still cheaper than a new one…

And for even less you can probably buy a much less capable SLA machine that might serve your needs just fine.

But even if you buy a new Form 2 or 3- don’t expect it to run 5 years without some costly maintenance.

@lillakontoret Do you have any photos you can share of the failures? e.g. Are there adhesion issues? Do some areas of the build platform work better than others? Have you tried a brand new tank and brand new resin? I assume you’ve thoroughly cleaned and inspected all mirrors, galvos and the optical window (shining light on each at a low incidence-angle to catch any specks).

If a weakening laser is indeed the culprit, one trick you can try is duplicating the model once or twice in Preform, and carefully aligning its position to perfectly match the original (you can zoom in really close in Preform until you see your mouse start to move the model by several pixels at a time).

That will cause the laser to make an extra pass or two over each layer, increasing the amount of exposure. It might be just enough to compensate for degrading power, at least for a while. Note it might also make it more difficult to precisely print very small features (particularly negative ones like holes/slots), since you’re also amplifying the unwanted fringe / flare effect.

If the trick improves your results, then it’s further evidence that your laser may be at fault.

quiere hablar privado?

If you do decide to return the printer to Fromlabs, they will offer to supply a shipping box.

I agree and understand that things need service and maintenance. And if we consistently had been using it for 4-5 years and made a lot of prints with it there wouldn’t be a problem.

But the thing is it hasn’t been running for 5 years. It printed 4-5 prints when it was brand new. Then we have used for about 3 months before it degraded and another 3 months til it started to fail in april/may this year. And we have made 88 prints, including the aborted ones.

Maybe you are supposed to change laser every 6 months, but i think it seems rather expensive to pay $2000 every year just for maintenance.

Ok, thanks. Our retailer did not adress this. He told us this was on us to fix.

Yes, I can post a picture soon.

We have tried brand new tanks with transparent/white/gray/black resin. We have even tried the more exclusive tank for the softer rubbery resins.

We haven’t tried to stack a duplicate though. Good idea!

Always worth getting in touch with our support team, even if you’re working with a reseller. We might be able to help directly, or we can occasionally speak to the resellers themselves to lend a hand. :slight_smile:

Why are you jumping to extremes?

No one is positing the expected maintenance schedule for the Form2 involves a laser replacement biannually.
If yours has indeed failed, it is an unexpected failure, not an anticipated one. I should clarify, not anticipated at your level of use.

Perhaps you can buy the part and replace it yourself? I’ve no idea if Formlabs sells it or if you posses the requisite tools and skill, just making the suggestion if it is a viable option and will save money.

And therein lies the real problem. FormLabs refuses to sell those parts to end users. They will only replace it themselves and charge you $800. They claim that replacement requires tools and knowledge that us, mere mortals, do not have.

Perhaps now that the Form2 is EOL, they will loosen the reigns a bit.
As time goes on, it will become less and less justifiable to spend $800 on a printer worth $1,500 and Formlabs will want to reallocate resources from repairing Form2 printers to areas of higher profitability. Hopefully that transition doesn’t come at the expense of all Form2 printers becoming obsolete if only because it can’t be repaired. That scenario remind sme of a scene from an AI movie where the AIs started fixing themselves and cannibalizing parts from other AIs that were beyond repair.

Sorry to break it to you, but they have already proven they don’t think on these lines as most other people do. To them them, if you don’t think it’s worth fixing for $800, then you are probably ready to spring for a new one.

They’ve done this with the Form 1/1+, and will do this with the Form 2, and Form 3, 4. etc. All the assurances they’ve given Form 2 users about continued support, blah, blah, blah, they done the same thing with the Form 1 users, and eventually left us in the dust. They frankly don’t give a damn; “the printer is obsolete, buy a new one” that’s their moto, This time next year, Form 2 users will be in the same boat as Form 1 users. No spare parts, no repairs, buy a new one or go play elsewhere.

They really don’t care, if you don’t want to buy a new printer to replace your old one, they get a new customer.

Did you try cleaning the main mirror as well as the galvo mirrors?

Hello Fabian,

maybe we can help you.
We offer a Form2 service for all machines which are no longer under Formlabs warranty.
The service fee is 500.- € & Vat & shipping.

We disassemble the printer totally including the laser unit.
We clean everything professionally.
Calibrating the printer
Adjusting and fine tuning of the galvos and the laser

You will get a written protocol with pictures and of course test prints from your own printer.

You can send me an e-mail if you are interested.

With best regards
Peter Figge


Hi Peter (@Frida),

Could you tell us a little more about your refurbishment protocol how you developed it - particularly how you perform printer calibration and galvo/laser adjustment and tuning? In my own experience Formlabs has always maintained this requires special tooling and sending the printer to them for service. If you’re a reseller I’d love to know what they shared with you; if you engineered your own approach I’d love to hear more about that.

(e.g. I have a Form 1+ that needs a new laser and one reason I’ve held off is I’m worried about how to ensure I don’t muck up alignment, focus, etc.)