Custom resin tray with replaceable FEP film

Hey guys,
i just bought a used Form 1+ and i got a bunch of old resin trays with him, and i’m a bit skeptical about the PDMS layer and its condition. I was thinking of milling out a custom tray from aluminum and replicating the Wanhao D7 FEP film system, i was thinking of finishing a prototype in a few weeks, but thought it would be a good idea to get a few opinions first.

So what do you think, is it worth the effort?

I’m very interested. I’m trying special resins for research and the PDMS bottom doesn’t work at all. Solidified resin (sorry, can’t say what it is) sticks very hard to the PDMS, which stresses the printer and decreases printing quality.

If you want to try a FEP vat:

We’ll that sounds cool, i’m even more interested now that i know that it could be more than just an alternative, but rather fix some issues with specific resins.

I mean, its really a nicely build machine. I am very pleased with it so far, but i don’t like consumable parts. The resin trays aren’t cheap and in 3d printing, failure is always a possibility and its really frustrating to me to keep loosing expencive resin due to failed prints in consumable resin trays. And dealing with loads of chemicals which could easily ruin the acrylic tray when your cleaning it ( happened to me last night.
So all in all i am going ahead with the aluminum tray build, should i post progress here or in another thread?
Any suggestions, or usefull requests would be more than welcome :slight_smile: ( like a functioning pouring lip )

Thanks for the link, but for something thats 3d printed - i think its a bit overpriced. I like customizing, so i’ll go for a milled aluminum tray simmilar to the Wanhao D7, cut a few FEP films on a laser cutter and start experimenting.

I was a bit worried when i found flaking and ragging on the side of the models that i was printing, especially the supports. I think its a bit of a stretch ( even though i am aware that is certanly does work very well, but… ) asking a laser beam to go through 4-5mm of plastic and pdms and not have any scattering along the way. I would imagine FEP film would eliminate most of the flaking issues and give better results in the long run. Just thinking out loud, every suggestion and discussion is very very welcome :))

Also, can anyone tell me if the Galvo system has the same XY resolution as the Form 2 version? And has anyone tried upgrading the laser system on the Form 1+?

@Therion_339 Any updates on this?

If you are looking for some sheets of FEP film. Please check out our new website: fep film and sheets
We sell thicknesses between 25 and 1000 micron cut to size or machined cut FEP film

How about one for the Form 2? You could machine an aluminum prototype from which plastic versions could be cast. The recess for the glass (borosilicate?) would sandwich the FEP and have a flange retained by several screws. You would also need a recess to hold the RFID. I suspect that the RFID would have to be obtained from a used tray. Seems like a good project. I wish I owned a CNC mill. I believe that you could also mill them directly in polycarbonate.

Alternatively; Why not just replace the acrylic bottom of a tray, that has exceeded its useful life, with good flat borosilicate glass? Rather than try and cut FEP film and figure out how to get it to stay in-place and flat, you could use castable silicone to create a thin non-stick film. There are several available online. I intend to obtain a flat sheet of boro glass and some Sylgard 184 and give it a try. There is way too much rigid printing in my future to go through what I did this morning. I had a rigid print fail and it took the resin tank with it. In my opinion the failure was due to a support deficiency that was not entirely my fault. NOTE: Rigid resin is HEAVY and requires more supports than you may think. Most of my failed prints have been with rigid. We have a love/hate relationship, but when you are printing threads 5" in diameter it seems to be the resin of choice.

Sidebar: Achieving the proper thread mesh on 5"+ threads is NOT trivial pursuit! And I haven’t even tried the interrupted thread version yet although it seems to work on the 1" version. If you have any good ‘tricks’, please share. Acme threads are my current choice.

Unfortunately since the bottom of the standard trays are acrylic rather than glass, I don’t believe that you can replace the FEP with the castable silicone without replacing the acrylic with glass.

Hopefully (untested), when the PDMS layer is damaged or becomes cloudy, it can be removed and re-coated. I’ll follow up with test results somewhere.

I believe that only a portion of users may be interested in this solution to control costs. A corporation, doing research, or a service bureau getting paid per print may not take serious notice of tray and resin cost, but the hobbyists or small startups most likely do.

For those not inclined to DIY, I found this site: (no affiliation)

The standard tanks are exactly what you describe, minus the borosilicate glass. Acrylic windows+PDMS. With some skill, they can be re-coated, but the Z-Vat 2 is probably the better option for this.

The idea with the FEP layer is that it lasts much, much longer than the standard PDMS, which is the reason why the LT tanks are really great.