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.


Exactly. We paid $4000 to put out a product that people with a $400 printer and $70 liters of resin can put out with ease. I feel pretty dumb.

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I’ve run 1.5 liters through the printer and have a warning that the tank needs to be replaced.

I regret purchasing a Form 3. I should have bought 6 of a competitors printer.


If you have only used 1.5 litres of resin in 250 days, surely you would only need one cheaper printer?

I bought it to print masters for making molds. There are other issues as well. Things warping after printing and curing.

I would print a lot more for sale but I can’t compete with the resin costs. I have to charge 2-3 times more just for materials.

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This lid was about 1.25" x 4" and was flat when it was printed. Over time it warped. The box had shift lines in two tries. The bottom has 8 holes, so no cupping. Not what I expected with $4000 printer (and not what anyone should expect, imo). Two prints was a lot of wasted resin.


Exactly how I feel, I’m looking into selling my 2 month old form 3 and getting an Elegoo Mars with $40 resin and amazing prints.

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It is quite depending on your business model to choose a machine to fit in. There is no machine perfect for everything. It quite depends on the return of the investment.

I have an industrial SLA machine which can print size up to 2ft in one piece. It gives a smooth surface quality along with a very good precision. However, the cost to have this machine first you need to pay 150k to buy the machine. And there is another 50k value resin you have to put it inside the machine so it can print. After a few prints, you refill the tank with the same volume of resin you used for printing. Do you think the 50k value resin is kinda of waste? To me, it is the business cost rather than a waste. The job finished from this machine will generate big enough return to me and that convince me it worths the front cost to have the machine running here.

We are talking about a form 3 here, not a massive industrial machine. The print bed is something like 175x175. It is designed for small prints. I am saying that, compared to printers that cost 90% less and have 70% cheaper resin costs, what we are forced to pay for formlabs resin makes it impossible to compete on a business front. I do think the printer itself is worth the cost, I just wish they would charge $70 a liter for resin like the rest of the world, or allow us to use the cheaper resin if we want to. It’s not a good business practice to force people to have to use your overpriced product.

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The problem is Formlabs has its own ideal target customer group and that’s why they set up the price tag.

Compared to industrial clients, the price for the machine and resin cost is pretty Cheap. Not to mention the print turn-around time you can literally get your print in a few hours.

However, to a normal person like you, it is expensive especially you can find a cheaper alternative machine and material. If your business model can’t afford the cost, it totally makes sense to step down and use lower tier machine and material.

Based on the new Form 3, I think Formlabs are starting moving up rather than moving down. The new Form 3 has track on tank using time which means you can’t recoat expired tank anymore. Also, without the open mode, it becomes a must you have to buy the material from them. The more expensive Form 3B can only print biocompatible resin which the early batch Form 3 can print too. These all indicate Formlabs are moving to harvest the clients pool it has been building. I am not sure this is pushed by the investors or its own manage board. However, i don’t think Formlabs will step down to compete with those cheap LED machines. They wourd rather just give up that market.

I work in toy invention and also use my Form2 for hobby reasons. I only use the weird specialty resins, and my average print is in mililiters so, even if I was only using it for hobby purposes, it’s still worth it to me.

However, I also use the printer and resins for work, and my employer offsets my costs because, even if they only use a few centiliters of resin out of a cartridge, the cost of the whole liter and tank is 1) less than we would pay for the specialty prints outside of the office and 2) a negligible cost compared to both the rest of the product dev process and the profits from clients.

We’re used DLP printers in the offices, the pixel grid and limited materials have posed an issue for us. The Form2 is expensive but for what we use it for the print tolerances and weird specialty resins make it worth while. However if you’re printing nonfunctional parts in a standard resin that you’re selling as a finished product then it may not be worth it to you.

It’s not just the cost of materials, but the hit or miss quality of prints. The cost of resin is one thing. Getting bad prints out of it is a whole other issue that needs to be addressed.

No one from Formlabs commenting in the thread is another issue.


Another thing that annoyed me, the material sample box that was sent out. Four different print samples in a nice box and presentation. How much did that cost?

It would cost me $1500 to try those four resins and tanks.

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