Easy but Extremely useful: Heatmap showing the "mileage" of the PDMS layer

I would assume the program would just need to keep a log of each resin tank. Each point on the PDMS would have a corresponding log point. Count of the number of layers that the printer laser goes over that log point. Then keep a running tally of each log point for that resin tank. Display it as a heat map with the lowest count and highest count as the baselines.

Something like this really helps you avoid overusing a particular spot. There’s no real good way otherwise, I can’t remember where I put something and it’s all geometry dependent. Also this resin tank thing is a huge running expense and it really burns if you screw up a spot Right in the middle and need to shell out cash for another one. Plus I feel sorry for the environment.

So yeah, please put this in next update!!! Oh my goodness I would love this sooooo much =)
Thank you!!!


I’d second this feature. What I’ve been doing my first several runs is saving a screenshot of PreForm of the top-down view of the build with grey resin selected. I can then load all of them in to Photoshop/GIMP and edit the transparencies to get a sort of poor man’s heat map of where I’ve placed all my objects. This isn’t an ongoing thing, I was just doing it to provide an example of what I think they should do, which you’ve basically just described.

I’d add that not only is it difficult to know where you’ve placed parts in the past, it’s impossible if more than one person is using the printer. Considering the cost and lifespan of the resin tank, this would be a very useful feature. A heat map that you toggle on/off during layout would be enough. An advanced version would have the software auto place all the parts in the best spot to extend tank life. It already auto orients and auto generates supports, why not auto place parts in the tank?

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I am going to piggyback here and also suggest a count for how much resin has been use or hours of printing. (think mileage)

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This would be really cool

Great suggestion. That’s something we’ve discussed informally, and it would certainly help manage print wear. There are some interesting questions about how to manage multiple resin tanks and colors — we’d need something like individual tank profiles, no? At any rate, I’ll make sure this gets passed on and we can start thinking hard about it.

Thanks! Great to see this idea is picking up steam!

Well multiple resin tanks would be handled by labeling each tank with like a sticker on the side, and making sure to attribute print jobs to the correct tank (probably some kind of print job history/log would be nice for editing mistakes).

As for managing multiple colors, that’s harder to say. I’ve seen how different resins can have a different effect on the PDMS, and I’m sure different colors have the same issue. Some testing would help though. Print the same object (maybe a cube) multiple times with four different resin tanks each with a different color, and then compare the level of opacity for the PDMS. Do this at multiple time points to see if the clouding follows a linear relationship or something else. Then apply this as a multiplier to the count number with 1 being the resin with the lowest effect.

That should work?

Thanks for passing it on! =)

Here is an idea…

Why not get rid of the PDMS altogether? A loose teflon sheet that is only attached to the tank at the edges should work much better. It looks like teflon lasts much longer than PDMS.

The sheet will be laying flat on the acrylic tank floor, so when the peeling happens, the sheet will flex slightly and the separation forces will be much smaller, therefore the part should peel off easier. When the tank goes back down the sheet will be pressed flat against the tank.

It’s just a theory but it should be much better than PDMS and could solve the early clouding issue and the peeling issue with large areas.

Getting rid of the PDMS would be ideal, but isn’t something that is as easy or quick (which is what I’m looking for) to add as a simple software feature.

These guys use a teflon based tank system, they say it’s patent-pending though.

I’d prefer something now for the time being.

Another idea would be to have a sacrificial layer made of some kind of optically clear sheet material that could be easily removed and replaced with a fresh sheet. If you know about some motorcycle goggles used in muddy environments, there is a sheet over the lens, when enough mud clouds visibility, it is peeled off to expose a clean layer. It’s a consumable but if it makes printing on the form1 reliable then it’s worth it.

Heat Maps please! Shoot, once you have the data logged the Preform can start recommending new locations.

To manage tanks, Formlabs could offer a sheet of colored dots to stick to your tanks and then in the software you pick the color you’ve assigned to that tank. Once the tank is chosen the settings for that resin and resolution will automatically populate. But nevertheless, heat maps.

Not as a replacement for heat maps, but does anyone know if it is possible to drop some kind of photo sensitive paper in a dry tank and print a set of markers (lots of rhem via an stl) to assess clarity? This could pick up both fogging in the tank and any mirror issues tho cleaning out the tank would be a pain.

I have collected a few resin tanks over the past couple months, and am currently inspecting each to see if there are any clear spaces I could make use of. Digital wear maps of each tank would be so helpful right now :slight_smile: (granted I would have needed the feature when I first used the tanks).

Nice I thought I was the only one taking screen shots of the top view. I did it as a reference and just numbered each print to keep track where I last printed.

I think contamination and that cause bad layers that peal and possibly micro fine scratches on the PDMS create the failed prints people are seeing.
So far the few failures I had were due to poor mixing of the resin. Easy enough to avoid that and I really make sure the PDMS is clear, no fogging, hazing or artifacts.

This would be really usefull. I was already thinking with an analog version. Use a sheet of paper, devide it in sections and use tally marks to keep track of the most used section(s)

I’ve got my own system of saving each printed Preform file in a directory to keep track of exactly how each print was arranged. For each new tray I create a new folder, numbering them. Then I number each print within each tray folder. This way I can carefully work my way across the resin tank surface, withouth overlapping previous prints, by opening the last print and placing my next part adjacent. When I’ve printed over the whole available tank surface, I will start over. However, I’ve noticed that some prints leave more wear than others, so this still won’t be as effective as a digital heatmap.

It should be really easy for the software to generate a height map as models are printed and store that image and be able to view it later on. Having that height map tagged to a specific tank would be really nice where many users have several resin tanks going on at once.

Yeah, we can only do so much on our end. Overlaying top views of prints provides only some basic information. This is because 1 layer vs 1000 layers would show up the same on a top view.

It definitely requires a software fix, which would be the easiest, cheapest, and fastest, while we wait for the hardware fix.

*The only slight issue would be canceled prints, because where it canceled in the print wouldn’t be sent back to the computer unless it’s connected, but I don’t do that too often.

Come on we have over 1600 views! And I just ran into resin tank issues on all my tanks when I need to print something for a client who had a demo on Sunday, now I’ll probably need to refund his money and he doesn’t have the parts he needs for his demo.

This is really important, because even one spot on the PDMS layer that’s destroyed can propagate the stuck layer of resin for the rest of the part like a cancer.

I think this is a pretty simple but extremely useful feature. What say you Formlabs?!?!?

This definitely would be a useful feature! There are some challenging considerations, though, having t do with the tracking of distinct resin tanks, a new user-interface element, and much else. I know our software team is aware of this request and we take all ideas & thoughts really seriously—I’ll make sure this is discussed.

Remember those little tabs on cassette tapes that you broke off to prevent recording? With only 3 tabs on a new tank, the user could break off different combinations like serial numbers. Then the printer would know the tank number and even resin type without complicating the user interface. With 0 as notMissing and 1 as missing, the combinations could be
000 = 0
001 = 1
010 = 2
011 = 3
100 = 4
101 = 5
110 = 6
111 = 7
You might recognize that as binary code. It would be pretty sweet. But sadly I don’t expect it would be practical until the Form2 re-design… with the new tank that seals the chasis :slight_smile: