Did I have a catastrophic resin overflow?

I printed something simple overnight on the Form 2 using Grey V4 and came back in the morning to the resin pooled up over the right side of the resin tank and having flowed all around the optical window (luckily none on the window itself). However, as users in other threads have also experienced, the resin flowed to a hole near the front left of the optical window and flowed down into the machine. Resin is leaking visible in the parting line at the bottom of the case right under the “Formlabs” logo! (it’s not dripping out though, which others have experienced. I haven’t opened the case yet.

I’m trying to keep my cool, but I’m printing on a deadline and the machine is pretty critical to our business in general. A few questions:

  • Why did this happen and how do I avoid this in the future?
  • Is the machine “totalled” or could I clean/repair it?
  • Does Formlabs have a procedure or precident for this? I saw some other threads that I believe resulted in replacement of the machine by formlabs, which I feel is warranted (if repair isn’t possible) since it was a machine failure (far as I can tell and read).
  • I’ve read about some people retrofitting their machine with a hole and other things to capture the spilled resin if it happens again. Has anyone had success with this?

I need to get this figured out so any and all input is very appreciated!

Well- it sounds like the spill was contained in the gray catchtray that is there for that very purpose. The tray drains down a slot near the front . I can only assume this tray drains someplace that Formlabs felt would be least likely to damage the Form2.

I would guess they will either send you instructions on how to clean the tray and inner casing. Or have you send it back if it needs repair.

But right now see if you can figure out the cause of the spill… you say right side… was it leaking out of the cartridge? Was the tank overfull?

Open a support request ticket today so they see it first thing on monday morning.

Hi Sculptingman, I appreciate the reply. I definitely submitted a support ticket right away. Have you had this issue first-hand? If so, how did you solve it?

I’m a little bit concerned that the “catchtray” may not be doing its job, at least looking at this other thread, which is pretty much what happened to me (Form2 resin over fill DISASTER!). Doesn’t appear to me that this issue was anticipated and accounted for in the design. OTOH the product dev team at Formlabs are definitely wizards of some kind, so I could be missing something.

You’re right, though, that I should try to pinpoint the cause of the overfill. The resin tank itself was not full to the brim, but it looked like the resin had been repeatedly sloshed over the right side of the tank, perhaps by the wiper. I didn’t see this happen, but the right side of the tank was covered in resin even though the tank was only about half way full. I don’t think it was due to a leaky bite valve, but I’ve removed the cartridge anyway.

The new LT tank goes a long way to preventing this type of problem. Many (including myself) have
them on order.

I’ve encountered a few spills like these (by no fault other than my own…), and it’s always important to get in touch with our support team so that we can help diagnose the cause and extent of the spill. A member of our team will be in touch with you over email to help out with this.

Preventing spills is a top priority, and as @StevePeters mentioned, the new LT tanks do help to prevent this. That said, a high risk of spills shouldn’t be your expectation with the standard tanks, and we’ll look into the root cause.

@StevePeters, thanks for the info. Will look into the LT tanks.

@Frew, Thanks. I’ve contacted support.

I’m curious what mistakes you’ve made that caused this kind of thing. I don’t know what I could have done differently, but if there’s something I’d definitely do it.

I saw something similar- I had GREY resin sloshed out of the tank by the wiper arm… though on the far side of the tank.

It may have been related to a series of motor problems to which printer slowly succumbed… the wiper ended up also routinely striking the print.

However- at the time of the spill, I was running a new tank and cartridge of Grey V4. And I had noticed that during the print, which had a LOT of supports, the Grey Resin in the tank was FOAMING… it had a literal HEAD on top of most of the resin- and the wiper arm would pile up the foam at either end of the tank well higher than the rim.
This was confirmed as the cause by the fact that the resin that I saw UNDER the rim of the Amber cover had literally been flung INTO the inside lip of the amber cover- and leaked down onto the aluminum from there. ( check your’s- i’m sure its got resin inside the cover rim.)

If it was caused by the foaming of the Grey- then it should not be that large a spill…

The grey catchtray on my form 2 contained nearly all the spilled resin and it had not been enough to flow to the down drain at front left.

Check the Tank to see if the Rubber layer at the bottom of the tank has peeled away or shows extensive air bubbles around its sealed edge… where it might have leaked underneath… but if its a slosh by the wiper arm…hopefully a thorough cleaning would be the only downside.

Were there any error messages during the printing process the spill occurred on?

For me- the clean up was relatively easy since none of the resin had gone down that drain slot… i could get at the tray area to clean it-

however- that was just the beginning of a host of issues we started having with the printer- we did not have another spill, but we had increasing numbers of Motor out of bounds errors- warnings of obstructions when there weren’t any… the Z motor started making a terrible grinding, groaning noise- like a chewbacca impression- and it kept getting worse until I could not get it to print anything.
I ended up taking movies of the thing showing that the platform would lift… but NOT high enough for the print to clear- and the wiper arm would comes across and strike the print- breaking off supports that ended up being debris and obstacles in the resin. Or the laser would start printing a layer without the platform even being down… and that the machine would pause to “sense resin” while the platform was entirely submerged- pushing the resin level way up past the top fill line.

So- I don’t know if any of these motor issues that ultimately saw Formlabs replace our printer entirely were related to the spill we had. Or if your spill portends future issues of a similar kind.

I tend to suspect that the wiper arm moves across rather vigorously and if the resin is all frothed up with lightweight bubbles… it has a high likelihood of sloshing resin over the rim of the tank.

I have already posted my 2 cents in a thread about getting an antifoaming agent added to the new Grey V4 resin… to try and keep the foaming from causing more spills.

I think they will send you instructions on how to get the bezel off so you can clean up the internal resin…
However- I would be intensely curious to see what you find when you do so.

Like- Modern refrigerators have a collection pan under the fridge to collect condensed water dripping off the coils-
Or flowing out of the freezer during the defrost cycle. Most folks never touch them as they are intended to hold enough water that the collected water just evaporates as fast as it accrues.

Ever since I first noted that grey plastic catchtray for minor spills and that it drained down a slot behind the bezel- I have wondered where Formlabs had that drain spill to. seems to me there ought to be some sort of large catchbasin under the drain outfall to try and further contain any massive spill- If it could hold one liter plus the average contents of one tray… then it could contain the entirety of the Form 2’s largest potential spill.

If it just comes out the seams at the bottom… that seems to me to be a big opportunity for a design revision that would make it easier to contain and clean up any large spill.
Imagine of the bottom of the Form2 included some low tray that could simply be pulled out like the crumb tray on a toaster or the water tray on a fridge.

So that spillway drain up top simply piped the spill directly into a the catchtray.

so if you open the thing up- post pictures of what you find inside- I want to know where that drain empties, myself.

@Sculptingman Thanks for the detailed response! This week is pretty hectic for me so sorry in advance for not reciprocating the level of detail right now. Here’s a basic update on my status though:

Thanks for all of the help. I took the metal shell off today and cleaned everything I could and took lots of pictures. The highest risk area is a small circuit board that’s on the back right of the machine that was covered with resin. I used lots of IPA and dabbing motions to clean what I could, but it’s not perfect. I timed it and it took 1:33 total.

I also noticed some smudges and dust on the optical window. I’ll just blame a co-worker… couldn’t have been my fault :wink: Anyway, I need to buy the proper supplies to clean that before I try printing again. I’ll report back once I try the test print.

All in all, I’m a lot more optimistic about it.

I’ll post the photos later when I have more time for it.

so does that drain from the catchtray on top drain someplace relatively safe?

And you say some got down the back right area? did it overflow the catch tray at that spot? or was that leakage that missed the catchtray entirely?

Would love to see a photo that shows how the catch tray drain is positioned relative to the resin that went down that hole.

@Sculptingman I’ll post pictures when I get back in town. I left them on my camera card. The “hole” on the front left of the catch tray doesn’t really go anywhere. It is just a small pocket that holds a few tablespoons of liquid. Once it’s full (which happens quickly) it spills over the edge and drips down the inside of the printer.

Can’t the side walls of the resin tanks be just higher? Not sure why it all has to be so marginal. Watching the resin Tsunami flood back and forth always freaks me out…

hello I have a question, how do I do if the valve on the resin cartridge is sealed?
my printer does not fill the resin tank, please help me, what should I do?

Really? Well THAT seems silly… it just makes it really hard to clean out that few tablespoons without stripping the bezel off.

I am wondering if it can reasonably be modified? Drilling a hole in the bottom of it and putting in a silicone rubber tube that would pipe any resin spill down thru the bottom of the Form2 case? If the printer is level and its top catchtray had enough fall- it should be possible to entirely contain even the worst possible spill- ( 1 full liter of resin plus one correctly filled tank’s worth of resin. )

Take the resin cartridge out- be sure to close the air valve at the top-
Turn the cartridge upside down and look at the rubber valve-

Its oval, and has a pre-existing razor slice in the middle that cuts 90% of the way thru the rubber valve.

A pinch tab on the machine SQUEEZES the rubber valve across its short dimension and the first time it does this its supposed to tear the pre-existing cut all the way thru the valve. But sometimes, it doesn’t.

Try pinching the valve with your fingers at either end of the slice really hard to see if you can split it. If this works, put the cartridge back in the machine, it should work fine… but check to make sure it doesn’t overfill the tank.

If pinching does not work, then get an Xacto knife with a new blade, and while pinching the valve to make the slice open up, use your other hand to carefully insert the very tip of the blade into the very bottom of the exact center of the pre-existing slice- with the blade in plane with the slice. You want to just barely touch the rubber with the knife point while stressing the valve rubber. This should cause the slit to open in the center and propagate on its own to either end of the slit.

If this works- then let go of the valve- turn the cartridge right side up- and Open the air bleed valve on top- and wait about 15 minutes to be sure the valve is closing properly to prevent resin from dribbling out the bottom when it is not being pinched.

If you see no leak- close the vent on top and re-insert the cartridge in the Form2- and THEN open it. ( the vent should always be closed when handling the cartridge to reduce the likelihood of any leakage from the opened valve.

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PS- if you pinch the valve and do NOT see the pre-existing cut split wide… then your valve does not have a pre-existing cut in it and Formlabs should replace the cartridge. Do not attempt to cut a slice in a valve that is not Pre-cut… as the slice has to have 90% of its cut face perfectly in plane in order to keep the cartridge from leaking in the machine.

When manually trying to start the tiny tear that first opens a normal valve, you have to take care not to cut, nick or alter the opposing faces of the pre-exisiting cut. The smallest cut in the rubber can propagate under stress and result in a valve that will not close entirely and a nasty resin spill.

By just touching the bottom of the cut with a sharp blade, as you squeeze it , what you are looking for is to SEE the cut propagate on its own along the very bottom of the pre-sliced gap… opening the valve. You are just helping start the tear the valve is designed do on its own.

If it looks like you would have to use the knife to cut the rest of the slice all the way thru… then stop and get the cartridge replaced.

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Alright folks, OP back with an update finally. Short version:

  • Resin spilled out of my resin tank on an overnight print and I woke up to it leaked all down into the Form 2
  • Formlabs support was responsive and did a good job walking me through a cleaning procedure.
  • I followed the instructions sent by Formlabs which involved disassembling a lot of the machine, breaking warranty seals, and took 1.6 hours to complete, but the machine seems to be printing well again.
  • I still have no idea what caused the spill in the first place, which creeps me out.

Here’s a bunch of photos of the spill and me cleaning it up. Hopefully, it helps someone else who is freaking out about this. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/10uPR_M3sc7RRKyJFrcxCSzA_E-GTMCRI?usp=sharing

picture 0848 seems to show a pretty large empty space in the area just below the “hole” the catchtray pours down… Did you remove something from this spot or is it actually this wide a space?

If so- then I truly don’t understand why the catchtray drain would drop resin into this area when it would not be that hard nor that costly to have a super cheap blowmolded resevoir in this spot that could catch resin and contain it.

i hope Formlabs is reading this and realizes that they put the catchtray in there- why stop short of having it port the resin someplace safer for the machine?

it certainly looks like a wiper arm flinging foamed resin hither and yon. all the way into the interior of the lid.

I know the LT tanks have been redesigned to try and reduce the slosh acceleration of resin being slammed against the side of the tray by the wiper.
Would still like to see the grey foam less than it does.

and Hey formlabs… how about a slightly deeper catchtray that has a more positive downhill slope to a drain hole that funnels spills into a CONTAINMENT? why drain it into the internal area at all? it could even funnel it our over the outer edge and be a lot easier to clean up than this.

@Sculptingman I think it looks like there’s more space there than there is since the front panel is pulled away from the device in that image, but if my memory serves me, It does seem like there would be room somewhere in that case for a blow-molded reservoir of some kind. There were definitely other areas with bad leakage and it’s unclear to me whether they occurred once the tiny catch tray was full or if they both were covered in resin at once. Meaning, i’m not 100% sure a better catch system would have prevented all of the spill but it would have certainly helped.

I still have not fully identified the cause of the spill, which is what makes me most uneasy about this whole thing. I did find that my optical window was quite dirty with dust and maybe even finger prints (not from the spill) so I cleaned that per Formlab’s instruction with recommended supplies. That could have been the issue.

i can’t see how a dirty window would cause resin to end up on the inside of the lid.

if you had a failed print and it dropped into the resin and splattered, maybe… or if some portion of the print or supports came loose and was being swept back and forth by the wiper…that might cause an issue…

resin over the rim of the tank can only be caused by overfilling the tank, or the action of the wiper arm- or the combo of both.
As I mentioned I had a similar, tho not as voluminous, spill… I also found resin inside the lip of the amber cover.

The most salient thing about that event was the thick froth of foamed grey resin sitting on top of the resin that was exactly between the fill lines. in some place the foam was almost as high as the rim of the tank.

I think its pretty evident that this pile of foam, when swept by the wiper, can easily be flung over the rim.
And I think that the redesign of the LT tank walls on left and right make clear that Formlabs is aware that this was an issue.
Why change it if it wasn’t a problem?