Form 2 Cartridge worn out must replace! NO not this!


its like some of you folks never bought a paper printer…
You remember inkjets, right?
They don’t make money on the printer… they make money on the ink.

If everyone refills their own ink cartridges with the cheapest stuff they can find, then the companies that MAKE the printers go out of business. If the business model of profitable consumables is undermined… then the only way for manufacturers to survive is to charge three times as much for the printer.

OR they move to a subscription model like the Carbon printer where you just pay $30k per year to RENT the machine.

Get it?

Additionally, If they let you refill cartridges for as long as you please, sooner or later you will have a valve failure and a huge mess… and perhaps even have to send the printer back for repairs… and guess what kind of threads full of acerbic complaints you would be reading, then? aggravated users griping about how the valve failed and their printer was ruined. And for every “adult” who would stoicly accept responsibility for their own overuse of a rubber valve, there would be two folks demanding a warranteed repair.

Formlabs resin costs are high because those costs subsidize the lower price of the hardware and the costs of the warrantee that they all too often have to make good on because its a complicated machine.

Kvetch all you want about their RESIN being overpriced, maybe they can get by with slightly less margin on resin. Or ask them to SELL empty cartridges you can use in open mode. (and hey- notice that they even OFFER an Open mode?)
But the expiration date is to keep your machine working, and you can just get a new cartridge and POUR the unused resin from the expired cartridge into the new one as you use that resin up.

Or, heck, half of you are designers… try designing a valve that can be relied on for longer and that is almost as cheap to produce as the pinch gasket. And sell the design to Formlabs.

But to be honest- if the reason you want the cartridges to be longer lived is so you can use them to run cheaper resins from companies that don’t even make a printer… Think it through.

I researched before buying the form2- and that their resin costs were high I saw as a selling point.
Because I don’t want to invest in a costly technology where the company that made it is not gonna be around a year or two down the line, because they can’t turn a profit.

it does me no good to undercut the profitability of the Vendors on whom my business relies.

This industry is an ECOSYSTEM. How many printer makers have evaporated already because they tried to cut their margins too thin? How many folks saddled with printers that are no longer supported- with parts you can’t get?

A good tool is worth its cost. And the people who make a good tool deserve to make money on that tool.

I charge a profit for what I do with the Form 2, too.



I totally get what your saying, . FormLabs will do everything it can to protect it’s margins and try to make money, I am happy for them. I on the other hand feel no obligation to pad FormLabs packets and want to minimize my expenses to print parts and will do whatever I can to try to achieve that. I think that’s fair?

Mike A


I think that is a common way of thinking. But I think it is short sighted and part of the whole Conservative mindset of every man for himself.
That mentality is the reason Gateway computer went under- the reason Windows computers in general have such poor build and design quality. The race to the bottom that ensues when the only metric people respond to is price.

Its the same mentality that has resulted in a working class that is paid so low they need government assistance to survive- despite working 1 or more full time jobs. This idea that employers should seek to minimize their costs regardless of the impact on others. And why? so that only the few on top can rake in the cash.

But if Formlabs goes under because of third party resin sales- then where are you? Sitting on a machine that you can not get tanks for… can’t get repairs or replacement parts for… And then you have to invest in a new machine from a different company, that will ALSO go under because you won’t support their profit model, either.
Enough of that and no company will invest in the printer space because its a surefire way to lose your shirt.

and that depresses innovation in other manufacturers as they try to figure out how to make ever cheaper machines using ever cheaper components to try and make a buck. So they can still have jobs tomorrow.

John Donne wrote: No man is an island, entire of himself. Each man is a part of the main…

The thing about economy is that it only works well when EVERYONE can live. when everyone can have a job that affords them the dignity of feeling self sufficient- that they can support themselves and their family thru their hard work.
And we are seeing that destroyed by the avarice of inequality economics.

One of my former apprentices once called me to tell me he had found a company that would mill large urethane foam parts for 15% less than the vendor I had been using for 10 years. I had to explain to him that I don’t care that the other vendor is cheaper- that I was going to continue to support the vendor I had been using.
He gave me a business lecture about how to profit as a business. So I patiently had to explain to him that I had profited as a business for 30 years. And that price is meaningless within any industry- that what was far more critical to long term success was RELATIONSHIPS. I explained to him that perhaps that vendor’s ordinary price was 15% higher- but that because of our long relationship- my vendor often gave me a discount, because he knew that I referred other potential clients to him. Moreover- I explained- that that vendor routinely referred business to me… and that four of my top paying clients of the prior ten years were clients I got because that vendor had referred people to me- or were referred by clients that he had referred.
All in all- 40% of my gross income was a direct outgrowth of that relationship with that vendor. And the reputation both he and I cultivated is a qualification you simply can not buy. It is earned by showing the other people with whom you work the respect of helping them to make good.

If I need steel- I will try to find the lowest cost, because it is a commodity and the price fluctuates every day. There will always be folks selling steel. Because commodities always make a profit.

But when I need SUPPORT- when I need a company that will still be in business when I need that support or service, then the smart move is to support That business’ profitability.

If I don’t then I am constantly in need of new equipment, new software, new suppliers. I am always trouble shooting a new relationship, and I develop the reputation of someone who can not be relied upon as a customer. Those vendors will never give me a break- or make a referral, because they never even get to know me.

The great error in western thinking is the notion that business exits to make profit. But that is a lie. That mentality gives us employers who rape their workforce for every nickle they can.

A better, more humane attitude is to realize that we, as a community, only suffer business to exist to the extent that it provides us with necessary or desired services, and to the extent that businesses provide a meaningful livelihood to the people.

Your business is providing YOU with livelihood… and anyone you employ. And the network of businesses on which your business relies is really a network of people.

Some of the best paying work I have ever gotten, I got because some guy who interacted with me when he worked at Disney- left the company- went thru two other positions over the next 15 years, and then was at a company where he recommended they contract with me, because he remembered our relationship, and that I was as concerned with his making money on me as I was with my making money on him.

Perhaps I make a few dollars less than I might if I was more cutthroat.
But in an industry that is very difficult to make a living in, I have never lacked for work over 40 years and 3 major recessions.
And the relationships I have built have enriched my life beyond any measure of mere money.

In that sense, I seek the best made equipment or software I can find from the best run companies. And I support their means of making a living.
Because they employ people.

And everyone has to eat.



Again, I do understand the points your making and respect your point of view. I just do not agree with it. I do though want to jump back to the topic of this thread and state that I am a big fan of FormLabs and there products. I own there printers and buy resin from them frequently. Where I start to get off the tracks with FormLabs is the way they are marketing there product. I believe that they could become more than they are today if they would open there machine to allow 3rd party resins (with the use of all of the machine features). I understand that there are risks. I would be glad to give up my product warranty to have the freedom to explore printing with all of the different resins out there. There is a lot of growth potential with resins. The development of new resins might happen faster if the owners of FormLabs printers became the mad scientist in there print rooms and experimented them themselves. Waiting for big brother FormLabs to do all the development makes no sense to me. Why doesn’t FormLabs sell a empty cartridge that I can program myself. Seems to me that would be a winner. I hope that FormLabs does not go down the road of Makerbot and completely close off there machines to this type of DIY development. The industry is not mature enough yet. Makerbot found that out the hard way and never recovered.
Mike Auer


Yeah I get that, but in this case I’m not talking about filling with 3rd party resin. I’m talking about bonafide Formlabs resin that I can no longer use properly because of this DRM stupidity.

(I know you understand what I meant, but clarifying here since my comment seems to have triggered a lot of discussion about less straightforward scenarios).


i had a cartridge of durable say it was expired.

I just poured the remaining resin into a fresh cartridge of Durable- once the level in the new cartridge dropped down a little. It worked fine.


the trouble is the autofill feature requires two things- the pinch valve cartridge that expires after a certain amount of time… and the resin sensor- which has to be tuned the the specific resin… and they have no way of knowing what resin you might use or its properties- therefore they can not trust that the machine will correctly measure and dispense 3rd party resins. Or that the cartridge you might use is leaky. And IF they allowed you to use those features with thrid party materials- THEN they would be potentially liable in the same was that if an amusement park lets and under-height kid ride their roller coaster - THEY would be liable no matter what waiver the kids parents signed.

You KNOW that if they allowed it- some folks would screw up their machine and claim they were never told the features were unreliable with 3rd party resins.

That is- by crippling all those features, they not only induce you to participate in their profit model by buying their resins… but the head off numerous liablity claims that would absolutely be made if the damage had anything to do with the pinch valve or resin sensor not working as advertised.
Think about it- the firsat argument a lawyer would make was that :if Formlabs knew the features might not work correctly with 3rd party resins, then why did they enable those features in the first place? "

I think it is perfectly valid to argue that they might want to sell EMPTY cartridges- that are chipped for Open mode and that will expire after a certain period of time- just like the filled cartridges… and that might require a manual touchpad button to dispense resin. So you would insert the cartridge, and press a fill button… and the cartridge would open and start filling- you would press the button again to STOP the fill when the resin got up to the lower line on the tray… and the printer could use that timing to determine both the viscosity of the resin ( so how long to open the valve for when filling) and to see the reading on the resin sensor so it could benchmark what reading meant “filled” for that kind of resin. and that this info could be saved in memory- keyed to the chipper cartridge that would then automatically be sensed each time you put it in.

If Formlabs charged enough for the empty cartridges- they might be able mitigate the losses from losing resin sales. Or - they might have this feature enabled for a price- that is a user such as you would have to be willing to pay a fee to enable the features you want to be usable with 3rd party resin. Again to mitigate the fact that they will lose revenue to anyone they enable 3rd party resin features.

But its not a conspiracy- its a common profit model that lowers the barrier to entry for a sophisticated piece of hardware.

You might be willing to walk away from your warrantee in exchange for these feature… but they can’t make their business model for You exclusively- they have to consider what MOST people would do and the aggregate effect…

so try to think of a way Formlabs could Profit by letting you use 3rd party resins and argue for that strategy.

But as it stands- even Adobe and other software vendors have had to move to a subscription model just to stay in business. And why? because people stopped updating their software and hardware every 2 years. So now you pay for software by the month or year and if you don’t pay- it stops working.

Would you be willing to switch to paying every month for your use of a Form2?

Or how about paying a fee Per Print?

Figure out a way for them to survive, and maybe they will run with it.


That sort of thing is probably how I got into trouble in the first place ;-). Unfortunately that wasn’t an option in my case as the resins were incompatible (old version + unmixable new version) and the older cartridges are no longer available. All I needed was an empty but not odometer-tripped old cartridge to give my printer the safety blanket it needed to have the courage to print. Oh well.


well- when my cartridge of Durable- that I had had less than a month and not even run half the resin in stopped working. Formlabs sent me a replacement cartridge full of resin, free.

that’s the one I cycled the remaining resin thru.

When the resin is old- and can’t be mixed with new resin… i think that may be as much to ensure you don’t ruin a lot of prints or the tank as much as trying to sell more resin.


If formlabs would do exactly this, I would be very happy.

However, I now have 8 resin tanks that failed within 1 liter of usage. They don’t fail by wear(clouding), but simply the PDMS releasing from the acrylic. Some leaking the full 200ml of resin on the ground and table.

If formlabs would have said like “hey, this is a structural problem and we’re going to replace them free of charge”, I’d be happy to pay extra, knowing that I would receive a quality product.

But no, they happily accept my 540 euro which I can throw in the bin almost directly and wasting hours cleaning up the mess.

Same goes for the optics. When so many people have this issue, it’s not a coincident anymore, they should solve it for free for all the printers facing this problem. Luckily warranty is very generous due to european law, but people outside of the EU would have to pay 20% of the machine price to fix it.

So yeah, as long as this is happening, I have to resort to cheaper resins to make up for the loss and will do everything to continue working on getting these cartridges hacked and printing cheap resins.


And yet- I have not had a single tank fail.

Which begs the question whether something YOU are doing is the cause of your high failure rate- or if you have just been unlucky.

And I am not suggesting its NOT bad luck…
Sadly- this kind of experience is getting more common since most companies selling products do NOT actually manufacture them. They have them made overseas, and shipped by the container full- rather than as they come off their own in house production line.

As a result- it is not unusual for a company to discover they have stocked and sold a whole container’s worth of faulty products. But because the nature of an issue might be complex or subtle, it can take a company quite a long time to even identify that the issues customers complain about are indicative of a widespread quality issue or fault in the design.

And, sure - you’re gonna do what you’re gonna do- but don’t be surprised or whine when you don’t get the level of product support you would like because a company isn’t making enough money to afford to offer that support.

Really- try and think it thru. You wish they would just GIVE you free tanks to replace your faulty tanks… and where do they get the money for that? Every tank they sell makes a small profit. Maybe 30%- that profit won’t pay for a whole new tank they won’t get paid for, will it?
If I double my costs in selling a product, that’s gonna make me money— but if I get a million dollars worth of product orders that means I need to pony up HALF a million dollars just to MAKE the products I sold.

And hey- you gotta do what you gotta do to survive… but the Ethics of your actions are EASY to determine… for ANY action you contemplate taking, just imagine what the end result would be if EVERYONE did the same thing.

If everyone used third party resins in their Form2, then Formlabs would either go under- or charge dramatically more for their printers and tanks to make up for the loss.

If everyone hacked their cartridges and tanks- then formlabs would likely go under and you wouldn’t be able to even get parts- your web based services would evaporate.

However- if Everyone running a Form2 exclusively bought resin and tanks from Formlabs, what would happen? They would be able to LOWER the prices of resin and perhaps tanks, because they would not be charging an amount to make up for those buying third party resins.

I am sorry you have the bad experience of failing tanks… if you can hack a more reliable solution- SELL that solution to Formlabs.
They fully understand that if they can make their products more cost efficient, they could sell a whopping lot more of them.

But I’ll maintain that undercutting the profitability of the technology you rely on is not a long term business solution.’


Then the questions is, are you printing as lot as we do on our two machines, were the tanks manufactured at the same time and what kind of parts are you printing. There is not much the user can do wrong here. Tanks go into the machine and you press print. This is a peeling issue due to bad adhesion of the PDMS. Not some user error due to piercing of the layer. The formlabs engineers are in the USA, I guess you are too. So maybe our tanks were made in a different location.

If they would even care just a little bit then I would be OK with it. I sent pictures, wanted to ship the tanks back to investigate. Yet they didn’t even care. They know there is a problem. There are more reports on the forum here, it’s not just me. If it was a user error, I’d expect some help and an explanation why… They couldn’t give me any!

It’s not about giving. It’s about replacing something that’s not OK. I guess you would accept it if the electric motor of a Tesla model 3 would fail within the first 100km and you’d have to pay for it? Cause it’s an innovative company, state of the art product, blabla. No, you would not(well… I would not)…

Ohh my ethics are just fine. If they don’t want to be open and fair about these issues, only take money and not listen to user input, then I feel the need to find a solution.

Nah, not really. That happens in a utopia only. They’re a business, and business need to keep shareholders happy. So as long as long as a customer complains and keeps buying, they know they ask the right amount of money, they’d never lower it. That’s business. But if they offer something extra that the competition can’t and stand behind their product, I’m happy to pay the extra.

If everyone hacks away the cartridges and buys their consumables from competitors, it means formlabs is doing something wrong and doesn’t do the things that justify buying consumables from them. The competition is there for tens of years already, they know how to sustain a business and what price to ask. It’s no secret how much resin really costs and that even competition that’s asking 100~150 euro a liter is still making a very healthy profit. Same goes for the machine. Sure, formlabs does a lot of R&D, but they can ask these prices cause people are willing to pay for it. UV resin exists for ages, these chemicals aren’t too expensive.

They are not interested in a more reliable solution. There were companies here offering their services to improve the resin and they were simply ignored.

Did you know that the wiper and heater used to be available in open mode? From one day to the other, it was taken out of the firmware. They never explained why.

Exactly! Finally we can agree to something. If I can engineer a washing machine that lasts exactly 5 years instead of 10 years, I’d do that, so I can sell twice the amount and sustain my business! :slight_smile: I would still ask the money for the 10 years though… cause people are prepared to pay.


So yeah, as long as this is happening, I have to resort to cheaper resins to make up for the loss and will do everything to continue working on getting these cartridges hacked and printing cheap resins.

The only time I’ve had a tank fail is when I used a third party resin. So I suggest that using cheap resins is likely to be a false economy.

As the optics. I’ve just followed this youtube video, cleaned all of the optical surfaces and restored the output to something very close to what I was getting with a new machine. So the cause of the optical problems id not exactly mysterious.


Nah not really, all these failures were with original formlabs resins. :wink:
I’m only switching now to cheaper resins as I am annoyed by how this was solved.

You think I wouldn’t know that after two years of usage. :slight_smile:
No, it’s not the solution. Read the topics on this forum. There is a problem with the galvo/laser itself. The beam changes shape after a year of usage. Formlabs charges 20%(800 something usd) to replace the galvo and laser. If it was just dirty optics, they wouldn’t replace it, right? Luckily my machine was within the EU warranty period but there are people who were less lucky.


I have had three tanks fail. Two had third party resin in them at some point the other did not. It was only ran with Formlabs clear. I was taken care of and had that money put towards a LT Tank (it took forever to get it) I almost forgot about it but I do applaud them for working with me on that one. So now I’ve got 3 LT tanks.

But I do keep a close eye on all my standard tanks because they cannot be trusted.


Nope. The cost effective way of dealing with these repairs is to replace the galvo block with one of a known quality on all machines and troubleshoot, refurbish and recalibrate the blocks as separate operation.


Formlabs charges that amount for all back-to-base repairs. It represents a contract price that was fixed before any units were shipped.


Lots of wild assumptions, entirely unsupported.
JUST because YOU would rather build a machine that only lasts 5 years rather than 10 because you imagine you would get more sales and make more money is not evidence that Other folks in business think like you, or similarly lack comprehension of HOW business actually works.

Once more- THINK it thru- Every Product made is a balancing act. Cost versus profit in a market with competitors. Sure, you COULD make a more robust washing machine… that would last longer… at considerably greater cost because more durable materials and construction would cost more. That you would sell replacement machines half as often only drives the price for the durable machine up.
But then you are faced with competitors who will sell a less robust, but initially equally functional machine for less- and guys like you would JUMP on getting what you want, cheaper.
Would YOU pay twice as much for a longer lasting Form2? Or would a machine that printed just as well but half as long be more attractive? Clearly your attitude says you would buy the cheaper machine.

Partly because you want to lower your costs without regard to the viability of the company you buy from… and partly because you know that in 5 years- there might be an even better machine or technology you would want to shift to, anyway.

So- given that reality of the market- that competitors will jump on- what is a manufacturer to do?

One path- the path you advocate, is to simply make the cheaper machine. Which drives your competitors make even cheaper machines- and what you end up with is a marketplace full of poorly made crap. Barely fucntional enough to sell at discount prices.

Another path is to make the more expensive machine- but to try and sell it at a lower cost than you can afford by making up the difference in repeated materials purchases for that machine.

So- Really - your argument falls apart. If formlabs profit model is dependent on consumables sales to support a LESS profitable price on the machine Then they are more interested in making high profit on consumables- than they would be on making a low profit on selling you a replacement machine. Ergo its in their best interest to make the best machine they can for a reasonably competitive cost- because they want you to, first of all- Buy In- and secondly want you happy with the machine and buying more resin.
One sale every 5 years compared to twenty sales every year.

Seriously- they do not sit around trying to think up how they can SCREW their userbase- they look at their books are try to think up the means to STAY in business and remain competitive.

As to the wiper and heater once working in open mode- well, because i develop products and trouble shoot production issues I don’t NEED them to explain why they disabled those features. Its obvious.
1- They spend a lot of money tweaking resin formulations and tank construction so that they can get their software to prep models and run the machine in ways that get reliable results with a wide variety of resins… and they can’t begin to guess the properties of whatever 3rd party resin you might dump in the machines.

This exposes them to a liability issue wherein the user might lodge a claim that their machine ruined a third party resin print. If the resin you used required a certain temperature- but the Form2 heated it to the WRONG temperature, then you might have a valid claim- because the argument would be that in ALLOWING you to use the Formlabs heater with 3rd party materials they had partial responsibility for the failure.

But if they Turn the feature off- presto- they told you it wouldn’t heat your resin and that YOU were responsible for the temp of the material. Similar considerations apply to why cartridges and tanks have expiration dates. If they DIDN’T expire- then they would be liable if they knew that they had a limited reliable lifespan.

2- In addition to this simple consideration of not having to field numerous spurious claims, I am SURE a big part of that decision was that when they allowed the wiper and heater to function in open mode- that their sales of resin dropped precipitously.
Because folks like you don’t believe in supporting the companies that INVENT the technology you rely on.

So they were forced into trying to add yet another disincentive to going open mode. Just one more impetus to support THEIR business making a profit.

But Consider that they could just as easily have eliminated open mode entirely.

That they allow you guys to run 3rd party resins AT ALL is evidence that they are trying as best they can to work with YOUR needs, Yet you act like YOUR working with their needs is too much to ask.

Well- good luck with that. Every small company and designer I ever met with that mentality went bankrupt.

Oh- and no- I haven’t run thru many tanks as of yet and I am absolutely concerned with folks reporting tank failures… but unlike you , if it turns out to be a problem I am NOT gonna ascribe it to some irrational belief system casting the folks who run Formlabs as either profit mongers who care not about their customers, nor as morons who don’t understand their own business.

I’m gonna assume that they are having a production issue… or that they are just discovering something about the lifespan of their tank materials and assembly… or that a change in resin formulation might have had an unanticipated result… because those kind of thing HAPPEN to manufacturers all the time.
(You think car makers WANTED to replace all those Takata airbags?)
OR- when the failure keep happening to some folks, and not so much with others- I might just assume that those folks are doing something DIFFERENT in either working with or storing their tanks.

And I call bullshit on the idea that they would be uninterested in a viable design for a better tank- Just because someone SAYS they have a better design, doesn’t mean it is. A large part of my career has been fixing what was wrong with other folks designs.
The better tank they are looking for would have to be retro-compatible with the Form 2s already in use.
And chances are every idea for improvement that HAS been suggested is one they already thought of, and tested, and found did not work.


Alright. I’m pretty much done with the way you’re ‘teaching’ us using capital and bold letters, so I guess you won. Best of luck with your printer and your work. I hope you have success.

Interesting, wasn’t aware of that. I read about people getting parts replaced for cheaper, but I guess they were sold only parts and assembled it themselves.

Yes, that sounds logical. In our case, we work with high power production lasers and maintenance on a regular basis and do know how to properly clean lenses and mirrors. I guess we were just unlucky(all steps you shared in the video were followed, however, we used acetone as this does not leave streaks/clouds like IPA can. It’s perfectly safe to mirrors and AR coated glass but be careful with plastics). However, I wonder how these mirrors get dirty over time in the first place. The printer has been dust tested and the optics are sealed(due to lessons learned from the F1 I suppose).

Anyway, if formlabs is reading here:
It would help if they would not only respond to beginner questions. I think a lot of frustration comes from the lack of response or a response that keeps people in the dark. It used to be very good… Many of us here are engineers and are naturally interested in the ‘how’ and ‘why’. :slight_smile:


Wow!, Sculptingman, really, you need to take a step back, not EVERYONE in the world thinks that every company should be a clone of the Apple company. There is no room for growth without customers and all there crazy ideas to make there product work for them. It’s a give a take I know. You might consider that you haven’t found anyone jumping to your beliefs on this thread.
I’m done as well, good luck.
Mike A