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Do not buy Form3L! Terrible reliability!

I have been a customer of FormLabs for 5 years, using multiple Form 2, Form 3, and now the Form 3L printers… and I’m done with FormLabs.

After only 1 year and 3 months of light use on the Form 3L it has had repeated print failures (printer reset during printing, bad prints, generally underperforming). Now FormLabs wants us to pay $2999 to RMA the printer for what is clearly a manufacturer defect.

We purchased the FormLabs printers due to their reasonable cost. In retrospect this was a mistake. After including the lost time to repair, RMA costs, and resin lost to failed prints, we should have purchased a printer from a more reputable company that stands behind their products.

We are now looking to replace our almost-new printer and will not be purchasing any future FormLabs products.

Is my experience unique or have other people had multiple broken printers?

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Ours is still running perfectly vir over an year with hundreds of prints perfectly. No replacement parts ever needed, not even the axis have been lubricated.

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I have been using my 3L for about 7 months now and since then I have had to open around 8 support cases since I first started using the machine.

Out of the box I had issues with the leveling feet so that wasn’t a great way to start with a new printer. But I will say that the Formlabs team has done very well with replacing resin with failed prints due to bugs in their software.

At this point I am happy with customer support but I feel very on edge with my printer because there has been issues at least once a month since owning the machine. (Whether is was firmware or hardware)

I think formlabs products are great but a part of me feels that it can be hit or miss with printers having defects / issues. But, I also think that manufacturing everything overseas does not help either… :grinning:

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Unfortunately, the simple facts are that no manufacturer has a 100% defect-free production line. There are always marginal escapes. If you buy a lot of whatever they make, you experience this as a percentage of your purchases failing each year (called “Annualized Failure Rate”). If you only buy one or two, whether or not your purchases are reliable or flakey is down to the luck of the draw. If you get one of the bad ones, your experience is much different that most everyone else.

What separates good manufacturers from bad is the percentage of manufacturing process escapes that lead to premature failure in the field. Unfortunately for us consumers, most companies don’t publish these statistics so you have no way to quantitatively judge.

But you have to imagine FL is selling 1000s of machines. The number of complaints in the user forum are limited. It suggests FL produces a quality product with a low failure rate or there would be a lot more people bitching about poor quality.

My experience with FL has been excellent, going back to 2015, but I’m a “light duty” user, and also highly technical. So from my point of view the products seem fine. Doesn’t mean the owners who are unlucky enough to draw the short straw don’t have something to complain about, though. :frowning:

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Yeah I’ve had some issues with that as well. It seemed(?) to get better after some updates but came back up again the last few times I printed. The last time it wanted me to make the exact opposite adjustment of the one it asked for the print immediately before, and the printer hadn’t moved or anything since then. It’s on a solid, level concrete floor.

I had some fit & finish issues (a loose panel and associated screwhole that came with stripped threading from the factory) and just figured my leveling problem might be related to that. Long-term I’m considering making some kind of dedicated, custom-leveled base that affixes directly to the chassis of the printer and forgoes the feet altogether.

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The leveling thing has come up recently as well but some minor adjustments and it’s fine again.

At the start had reliability issues as well but as time has gone on the machine has been great. Now I agree with the original poster though with Formlabs pricing on it’s warranty. When you basically pay for a form 3 up front it’s easier for them to provide support of the 3L. With all it’s issues and it’s initial price tag I would think they would give you a better pricing option for continued warranty support. Mine is up in less than 3 weeks and am struggling if I should renew it. With the price tag of this thing I guess I see the writing on the wall.

That being said I would still recommend it.

The leveling foot issue I had was fixed by formlabs with a firmware update. The thing that strikes me odd was that the foot that was causing the issues was visibly “broke” in my opinion. So a part of me feels that they siked out the printer to stop the errors from coming through.

When I say broke I mean I can push the foot up and down where it is supposed to be fixed in place… But, they fixed the physical issue with a software fix, that doesnt really give me good feelings!

Also, I feel that the money I have spent on the pro support program has been worth my dollars. I’ve called with my issues and they help me fix them right away so I’m not losing any valuable time. They also have replaced many rigid 10k cartridges due to varying issues. So that keeps me happy because rigid 10k is not cheap!

I have the Form 3L since a year now.
I had multiples issues that was relied to the V1 Resin Tanks and the Build Platform.
Formlabs customer support was fast, comprehensive, great and useful with me. They also sent me a lot of replacement resins and tanks. This is not too bad in order to compensate the lost of time I had.
I would prefer having a 6 months free extended warranty because of all beta problems occured.
My warranty is now finish and, me too, I am struggling if I should renew it. 2000$ US per year, for a normal warranty. I am afraid not taking it.
They have updated the firmware a lot during the last year.
But yes, this is still a lot of money for the printer itself, the resins and the resin tanks.
I would still recommend them.

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If it were just this one printer, I’d agree. We ended up RMAing our two Form2 printers 6 times over 4 years. Each time it was a different issue, but always a product defect (never wear and tear since they never lasted that long). We also aren’t a heavy user, typically running 3-4 prints/week.

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Form2s definitely required a lot more babysitting and RMA’ing. We’ve found the Form3s a lot better. Still some issues and failed prints once in a while, but so far they’ve proven a lot more reliable than the Form2s. Not impressed with how many tanks we burn through with the tough resins though. We’ve had a 3L for about a year now. So far it hasn’t been too bad, some failed prints once in a while, and the occasional new tank that’s really tight to slide onto the rails. I think our biggest issue with the 3L so far is the sludge that builds up at the bottom of the tank and on the mixer arm. It doesn’t prevent the print, but the buildup on the mixer is unusual and we’re not sure what’s causing it… We’re thinking maybe we should filter it out once in a while, but that takes time .

Does your resin sit in the tanks for a while? I’ve found with some resins (e.g. Black, Tough, Rigid) if left sitting for a long time they separate like this and you end up with a layered sludge. The mixer isn’t always quite adequate to re-homogenize them again on its own. I manually mix it around with a soft plastic scraper for a few minutes until it’s smooth again.

Filtering from time to time is good, although I haven’t figured out how to do that without making a mess. I think I need to design a 3L tank holder mount that slightly tilts it into the filter sieve.

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I also do what @rkagerer does for certain resins.

My 3L has been incredibly reliable and a work horse for me. Definitely shared some quality pains when it was first released but those have all been fixed now and I’m still pushing tank lifetimes with some old V1 tanks.

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Hrmm that could be it too. We haven’t really seen this sludging effect on our Form3 tanks and some of those can sit for a pretty long time too. But we’ll try manually mixing the 3Ls tank resins to see if that improves them. I suppose at worst, the sludge will just act as a filler.

I totally disagree with the initial post. Our 3L has been totally reliable and produce great prints in Grey, Clear and Tough1500. Had a few glitches like everybody else and its also too bad to see some people have bigger issues but my guess is the majority is running fine and won’t be on this forum.

FL have been very supportive. As a small business owner I’m still happy I got rid of all fdm printers and that terrible 3D-systems :poop: we had. Our 3 and 3L now running almost permanently. >96% print succes. Much lower costs. Still recommended.

Also happy to have both the 3 and 3L as some downtime has occurred while talking to support. You can always continue on the other. The fact that repairs now consists of FL sending over a part and us changing it in 10-20min is also amazing compared to others brands.

FL set out to bridge the gap between industrial and desktop. I think they do that very well. The part quality is very similar and in some respect better to our 3D-systems machine at the fraction of the costs. Material changes are possible and quick. Print speed is higher. Post processing is faster. Support is cheaper.

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I agree! We just bought two Form3 machines and they have been operational for almost two months. While I have run into some issues, like some defects with resin tanks, I still think that FormLabs offers a superior product and excellent customer service. Any issues I have experienced thus far have been minimal per se, but resolved promptly and appropriately.