Cost vs Production With Formlabs Resin


Hello guys,
Let me start by saying that the Form3 is a remarkable printer, and extremely easy to use, and I have had no technical issues since purchase.
However, I do have a different issue. Cost of resin. I, like everyone else, paid nearly $4000 with taxes and shipping for this printer, and about $170 for every liter of resin that I need. But what I have found quickly is that we aren’t getting use out of the full liter. Preform notified me that I had only used 400ml, and I know the tank holds around 400 as well. Yet when I went to print today, my cartridge was bone dry and my tank only about half full. I know that preform does not account for lost resin that we post process off, but there’s no way my math is off by several hundred ml.
Long story short, I only made in sales about half of what I expected from a full liter, since the machine will not print with an empty cartridge even though there is plenty enough in the tank, and now I have to spend another $170, and I’m VERY worried that I will not be getting anywhere near 1 liter of resin use out of this next cartridge as well.
If I don’t, then I just invested nearly $6000 (I also bought the Form Cure) and will not be able to competitively price my product against people using much more affordable printers and resin. I really feel stuck and like this investment is not going to pan out.
Someone please give me some good news about my worries.


I don’t see any reason why you should not be able to use the full 1 liter of the next cartridge. Please keep in mind you start with an already filled tank and not with an empty one like for the first cartridge. Also, when your tank comes to the end of its lifetime, you don’t loose that resin still in it as you can pour it into the new tank (at least something like >95% of it; n.b. that’s a good point to filter the resin maybe).
Of course you “loose” resin to supports and rafts. But that’s a question of many parameters, maybe also including to a certain extent the orientation of the print (within the boundaries given by a “good” orientation).


Correct me if I’m wrong here, but once the next cartridge runs out, the printer will not print, regardless of how much resin is in the tank. So no I will not be getting the full use out of it. Also, if I “pour the resin back into the cartridge” ( which I think is ridiculous to have to do with what we are paying for it) it is just going to pour that exact same amount of resin back into the tank, the cartridge would be empty again and it would not print. It just stays on an endless “filling tank” loop.


you are completely right.i get about 75% then is time to buy more. I learned quickly that whatver you estimate or formlabs tell you about printing costs…double it

IPA and consumables uses very quick and are extremely expensive

formlabs is not a good solution for small production prints…too expensive…


@Antone80 You should never pour the resin from a tank back into a cartridge. What I was refering to is pouring the resin in a tank that reached 100% of its lifetime (after 35 or 10 weeks, depends on the resin) into a new tank.
Like this, you may fill the new tank with maybe 95% of the resin needed to reach the minimum level for the printer to run. Then you need additional 5% of the total minimum volume from the new cartridge to reach the minimum level and the volume between minimum level and maximum level where the printer continues. That second part is then used for new prints, you don’t loose it - only those maybe 5% you lost because you did not get the last drop out of the old tank.
If you continue with the same tank, then the printer stops when the minimum level is reached and you need resin from the new cartridge to fill it again to maximum level and with that amount you can again produce nice prints until it needs to refill again.
To summarize, you only loose the amount of resin necessary to fill the first tank to minimum level and a little bit when you change the tank (not the cartridge!).
Does this make sense to you?


No it doesn’t. My tank has plenty of resin in it. Also it’s a brand new tank so I’m not really sure why you are talking about pouring it into another tank (which is like another $200 btw). What I’m talking about is the resin in the tank after the cartridge is empty. It is useless unless you have another cartridge with resin ($170) inserted. And also what I’m saying is that preform estimated that I only used 400ml of resin from this cartridge, if the tank is only half full right now, (around 200ml) why is my cartridge empty already? I’ve only used about 600ml total. Where’s the rest of the resin? Either Preform is horribly inacurate or I’m missing about 400ml of resin.


I haven’t done the math recently, but in the past, I have found Preform to be pretty questionable on its estimates. More than that though, the printer itself seems to be horrible at keeping track of how much resin is in the bottle. Multiple times it has told me there are 400ml in the bottle, when it is clearly empty, and sometimes it’ll tell me the bottle is empty when it clearly has like a third of the bottle still full. As far as “missing” resin, it has been my experience that between the questionable estimates in Preform, the resin lost when cleaning a failed print, and the sometimes rather substantial amount of resin clinging to the part after printing, I get about a 15% loss factor.


Coincidentally, I received an email survey relating to this. I answered in saying that the resin and consumables cost for this printer is way too high to compete with users of printers like Photon and others.

I’ve had some questionable results in printing with soft details and for anything like engineering prototypes, the tolerances are all over the place often requiring reprints and model tweaks to get things to fit.

It’s keeping me from doing much of what I planned when buying the printer. I have to factor in excessive resin cost, wearing out a tank and eventually wearing out the light unit and that is after getting good prints that don’t have shift lines going through them.

I’m looking at other people’s results with sub $500 printers and $40 resin and kind of feeling less warm and fuzzy.