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


Right. But I think the question is “Is that acceptable behavior?” There was nothing about locking the printer down to only use their resins (unless you also keep buying their resins) in any fine print I’ve read.

The obvious conclusion is that the behavior of the sensor is surprising in it’s enforcement of a specific and hitherto unknown usage pattern derived from an unbespoke revenue enhancement paradigm to those who had believed ‘OpenMode’ actually meant it.

(spoken indignantly with sharp puncuation in the voice of Cornell West :wink: : )


Well, the subject of Open Mode and the cartridge lifetime has been discussed plenty. To recap - Open Mode lets you use any resin you want. It doesn’t let you use the cartridge, heater or wiper because those are calibrated for FormLabs resins. Other resins might result in overfill or wiper splash over, creating customer support problems (I also have to wonder about how safe resins are when heated. FL presumably ensures their resins don’t out-gas something nasty when heated. But 3rd party?). And the Cartridge has a “bite valve” with a limited lifetime. If the printer let you use the cartridge indefinitely, eventually the valve would fail and all the resin would leak in to and overflow the resin tank, creating customer support problems.

I’ve put a little better than 2L through a Cartridge no problem. The printer complained that the cartridge might not have enough resin each time I started a new print, but otherwise it worked fine. Unscrewed the cap, poured it in, put the cap back on. Rumor has it the printer will refuse to use a Cartridge that’s had about 3L run through it. But I tossed mine after 2L so I don’t know for sure what the upper limit is.

I’ve used the printer in Open Mode and it’s worked great. Would it work better if I could run my MadeSolid Vorex through a cartridge and print with the heater and wiper? Maybe, maybe not. It hasn’t seemed to matter so far. Vorex worked great on my Form1+ too and there’s no Cartridge, heater or wiper there at all.

I’m guessing here of course, but FL wanting to limit these features doesn’t seem to me to have anything to do with a “revenue enhancement paradigm” unless that’s your definition of “staying in business”. They are a business, they need to make money to continue to design cool new printers. They don’t mind if we use 3rd party resins and they even provided a mode to enable that. But they won’t make money if they have to repair/replace printers that are getting soaked in 3rd party resin by inexperienced users who use Open Mode and set the wiper to move too fast or program the bite valve to stay open too long. And don’t forget the users who would (if not restricted by the printer) run liter after liter of resin through the same Cartridge and then complain that “Overnight, all the resin leaked out of this defective Cartridge and overflowed all over the printer!!” and expect FL to clean it up for them.


I completely agree with you randy. I guess the way I would change things is this.
Sell empty resin bottles. Id pay 20$ for a chipped resin bottle. At least then you can track resin usage a little closer from 3d party stuff or refilling. With this option you could also limit it to 2-3L of total resin through the container. Id be fine with that. I dont want to risk my 3500$ printer to leaking bite valve.

Secondly, It would be very easy for FL to program open mode to allow the wiper to move every 20 layers or 50 layers, very slowly from side to side 2-3 times. a slow movement would ONLY serve to mix the resins of some of these very pigment rich resins (MJ Black). Im talking very slow, to the point where you arent pushing resin, but just slowly agitating it.

Im sure ill have more rational thoughts but right now im eating an omelette and my kids are yelling at me :wink:


I hear and somewhat understand the logic that Randy is trying to convey but, I think his perspective is a little narrow minded. This machine has a lot of unfulfilled potential that Formlabs should be discussing with there customers. I also believe what dunginhawk is saying about selling empty’s . Let’s say that the chip in the empty tells the printer to slow down the wiper and to cut off the use after 2 liters, this would be acceptable to me. This will allow me to do more business with my customers that will in turn create more business for FormLabs. (by the way I don’t get much more than one additional liter from my machine before it shuts down) I am not looking to have unlimited control of the machine. I just want to be able to use the full functionality of the machine using 3rd party resins. Also, I have a Form 1+ and have bottles of Formlabs resins for that machine. The other day I was printing with the Form 2 and added resin from the bottle to the cartridge to finish a print. The machine shut down because I exceeded the cartridge life. I am running a 3D printing business and not a hobbyist. I needed that print for a customer. I cannot wait for 4-5 days for a new cartridge to be mailed. I also do not have unlimited funds to have and extra cartridge of each resin on the shelf. I am wrong in thinking that there should be away around this problem so that I can keep printing? Yes, I understand that I could buy all cartridges of resin instead of bottles for my form 1+ but have you tried to pour from a cartridge into a tray not as easy and clean as from a bottle.


Well, we know FL reads their forum, and we know they’ve made some changes in the past based on user feedback, and they can’t have failed to notice the consistent complaints about these features. Perhaps they’ll decide to do something about it… and of course, there’s nothing stopping anyone from developing 3rd party cartridges and resin tanks for the printer.


Also, we don’t necessarily know that you would get better print results by using all of the features–it’s likely that you could print with whatever resin just fine in Open Mode and all of this worry about using the cartridges is not a big deal.
For me, I understand the usability of having cartridges, but I’m fine with pouring resin directly into the tray like the Form1 so cartridges weren’t really a feature I care about.


I really don’t like the cartridge system. It is unfortunately the only way to enable

  1. the heater
  2. the wiper

The trouble with auto filling in general is that the chance of a catastrophe goes from zero to greater than zero and the printer is not designed with this in mind.

I really purchased this printer for the closed optics and the wiper/heater. I don’t even use non-formlabs resins. I just have leftovers from the form1 and can’t get cartridges of the discontinued tough V1 resin.


Yeah the idea that a valve can fail and make the godawful mess I’ve seen is pretty nerve racking, especially when nothing cover this disaster. Cleaning spilt resin inside these machine isn’t an easy or pleasant task. I would rather have the choice to manually pour the resin in if all I am printing is small stuff. Can even pause the print and pour more in for larger prints.


I feel like I fell into a bit of a resin hustle here, and not sure what the difference is in formlabs resin spilling into my machine ( recently happened ),or some other brand? Anyways My point is to formlabs. I use your RESIN!! No need to hold your cusomers cartridge hostage when a simple cartridge valve inspection and machine operation/spill check can make it through the print. So, for the moment looks like we’ll be printing on Iffy mode/ open mode till the next cartridge arrives. But that’s the point right?


Formlabs cartridges are not designed for reuse or to be user-serviceable. The design is actually fairly clever, IMO. It’s simple and so, inexpensive. And when used as designed, it’s very reliable. But the bite valve has a definite fatigue life. Even though FL intends them to be used once, they let you reuse them some, anyway. Seems like a pretty fair way to handle it, IMO. Formlabs is a business, not a charity. They have a warranty to protect. If they let us use a cartridge forever, trusting us the users to determine if the valve was still reliable, their warranty costs would inevitably go up as a result of users who either didn’t bother to assess the valve or didn’t know how to assess it properly or who pushed their luck a little too hard, who then put in a warranty claim because their cartridge leaked.

There’s nothing wrong with the way FL handles resin cartridges as far as I’m concerned. They’re not holding anyone hostage. They’re protecting us from ourselves. And the resin costs the same whether you buy it in a bottle or a cartridge. So whenever you buy a bottle of FL resin you might as well just buy a cartridge of FL resin and then you don’t need to worry about the bite valve.

The only two reasons I can think of to want to reuse an empty cartridge repeatedly are, if you’re not actually using FL resin, so buying a replacement cartridge from FL leaves you with extra resin you don’t plan to use… or you had a Form1 and a supply of bottled FL resin you want to use on a Form2.

I did exactly this with my first Form2 cartridge, since I had upgraded from a Form1+ and I had some bottled “Tough” I was able to run through an empty Tough cartridge. I think I put 2.5 liters through it in total. I had been using some 3rd party resins in the Form1+, too, so I saved a couple of empty cartridges corresponding to the 3rd party resin’s Formlabs recommended printer settings so I could use that resin, too.


I have one tray worth of older resin that I want to use up. It works great in my Form 2 with the heater and wiper. But now I can’t use 'em because I’m getting this error. I really don’t care if the bite valve is worn out; the cartridge is empty! Now I’m stuck in Open Mode :frowning:

I understand the rationale behind the warning, but there are corner cases that are hurting users. I miss the old “dumber” firmware.


rkagerer, this is no accident, this is a calculated step by FormLabs to keep people from refilling tanks with third party resins and getting all of the functionality from the machine. Marketing is a great thing!
Mike A


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.