Form 3 a month in - mostly good

First, I’ll just point out that this is my first 3D printer of any kind. I’ve used FDM printers at a maker space in the past, but aways been disappointed with the surface finish to the point of just washing my hands of the whole thing.

I’m glad I held out / waited for the Form 3. The surface finish is everything I expected, and I’m only using 100 microns.

I had a few failed prints due to the automatic supports not being optimal, but lately it’s been working much better. I’ve taken to reducing the support density to 70% and the touch point size to 40 microns.

The issues so far:

  1. The dashboard sometimes is inaccurate - it will indicate a print is finished and the printer is idle when it’s not. Usually a refresh or two brings it back. The printer is connected with Ethernet, and our NAT/firewall is an ordinary one, so I don’t have any explanation for this that isn’t on the printer or Form’s site.
  2. Most prints stop with an error at the beginning complaining that the resin isn’t dispensing. I can plainly see the resin dispensing, so I think this is just the printer being impatient. Support said this should be fixed with the next firmware (formware. :D).
  3. Somehow there seems to be a path for resin to get from the cartridge to the underside of the tray. I’ve had to manage a little bit of messiness in the back corner where the “catcher’s mitt” of the tray goes.
  4. At first I didn’t notice, but I have seen some inaccuracy in the print time estimates during the progress of a print. My guess is that the amount of time it takes for the tank to delaminate from the printed layer is not constant and is not being correctly estimated. But that’s only a guess. It is annoying that PreForm doesn’t even try to estimate print time.
  5. I have printed upwards of 5 liters of resin so far and I am still on my original tanks. I have replacements ready in the wings, but so far I haven’t seen any print artifacts that tell me that it’s time to replace the tanks. There is a bad spot or two I can see on a couple of the tanks, and I’m avoiding those spots when I print. But so far the prints are coming out fine.
  6. I have had two build platforms fail so far. On one of them, the seal popped open and contaminated the tank with wash IPA. I no longer wash the build platforms with prints attached and instead detach the prints into the wash and just clean the platform (if changing resin) with paper towels and IPA. The other failed platform had a raft stick so firmly that I’m going to have to take a sander to it. Hopefully when that little operation is complete, it’ll be able to return to service.
  7. I’ve used white, black, clear and draft resin and my only complaint so far is that the draft resin really stinks. Literally, I mean - it smells awful. Fortunately, when the tank is in it’s box, the smell is contained, and after it’s washed and cured, it’s fine. Draft is refreshingly fast. You do begin to see the surface texture that is reminiscent of FDM, but I can get past that because it’s intended for testing or for tools or jigs that don’t have to look nice.
  8. I really, really love clear resin. Even at 100 microns and with no post-processing it comes out like a slow-frozen ice cube. Very pretty.

Forgot one.

  1. The estimates on how much resin are in the cartridge are almost always way, way too high. In particular, I don’t think the estimate includes the initial fill of the tank, so the first cartridge of a new resin is empty when the printer think’s it’s more than half full.