Form 3 Resin Availability: Update


#61

I wouldn’t say that. You may be correct in a strict sense, but the fact that there is a timeline now should at least mean that in this case, they do have a solution and are right now long-time testing it, getting it ready for production etc.


#62

So it seems like formlabs just released a v2 of the tanks which work with all resins. I have a couple of questions @JenniferMilne @DKirch :

Your support website now lists a maximum time for storing resin in the tank…I think it said 36 for standards and 10 weeks for the new engineering resins that the tank is now compatible with. Is this suggesting that we have to empty the tank after every use? This is definitely not something I do with the LT tanks. Will the tanks leak? I’ll admit the tank spouts also don’t pour very nicely.

Are there any print quality benefits with the v2 tank? Specifically around the rippling and wavey artifacts that many users are seeing? I bought a whole bunch of tanks right off the bat and it would suck to be stuck with inferior tanks given how infrequently I’ve been able to use my Form 3 because of quality issues.


#63

Hey @leonhart88!

Great questions!!

  1. Definitely not suggesting you need to empty the tank after every use.

  2. The 10 week timeline for the new engineering resins is something we do recommend you keep a pretty close eye on. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get leaks at this time, but it’s getting into the danger zone a bit. I believe you’ll even get a call-out on your printer’s UI giving you a heads up that it might be time to swap tanks, again, specifically for the 3 engineering resins.

  3. There are no print quality advantages or disadvantages to Tank V2, just that Tank V2 allows printing with those engineering resins.

It’s worth mentioning that any tank bought from now moving forward will be a V2 tank* so for all intents and purposes, that’s just the new default tank across the board.

*The only exception here being tanks included with new printer bundles, which will include V1 tanks until we run through that stock.


#64

The 10 week time line for the engineering resins. Even if we do empty them out for storage longer than 10 weeks, will small amounts of residual resin still deteriorate the tank at the same rate? I guess what Im asking is, is it a strict 10 weeks of life after the first use.


#65

I don’t mean to be negative, but it seems to me that 10 weeks is a very short time depending on the user’s workflow. I’m just trying to get an understanding of how cost effective the V2 tanks will be. If you do a lot of prints with engineering resins, I guess you are not as affected. This will make me be very reluctant to print with engineering resins. When I made the decision to purchase a Form3, I was led to believe the tank life time would be much more than 10 weeks. Am I the only person that has noticed this?


#66

Hi everyone - for what it’s worth I’ve left engineering resins in the old Standard and LT Form 2 tanks (not the Form 3 ones) for months at a time with no ill effect. While I don’t recommend straying from the official 10-week guideline (and agree it’s super-constraining), I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some grace period buffering their estimates. (Report back if you find out the answer to this!). Seeing how new the tanks are, it might still be premature to press for more accurate, “filled” shelf life estimates. While I’m sure Formlabs did accelerated testing on the prototypes, it’s likely they themselves haven’t had the final versions sitting around with resin in them much longer than 10 weeks at this point.


#67

10 weeks is based on our validation, and the failure mode is not something we’d encourage you to toe the line with. That said, we have made it so that while the UI will prompt you to switch tanks, you can choose to override it. So this isn’t an arbitrary lockdown thing, irregardless, I would strictly recommend you change tanks after 10 weeks.

I have not personally tried it, but I understand emptying resin from a Form 3 tank is not a fun experience. Small amounts of residual resin does still deteriorate the tank, likely not at the same rate, but resin exposure is not the only factor so it’s hard to characterize a lifetime recommendation if someone goes down this route. In the support article we list out the range of factors which impact tank lifetime:

  1. Time exposed to resin (i.e., the amount of time that a tank is holding resin, regardless of where the tank is stored)
  2. Printed resin
  3. Model geometry
  4. Layers printed
  5. Temperature

Total printed layers is another threshold we measure and the UI will also let you know if you hit that before the time threshold, however based on our understanding of typical printing, we think the time limit is what will impact the majority of customers hence leading with that.


Resin tank Lifespan
#68

@david_g totally fair, this solution is better suited to high volume and heavy users printing a lot with these materials. For anyone who is only doing a handful of prints in a 10 week period, this solution may not prove cost effective. From our current lineup of Engineering Resins, please note that only Grey Pro, Elastic, and Rigid require the v2 tank with a 10 week lifetime. Flexible, Tough, High Temp, and Durable will last 35 weeks in a tank depending on how much you print and may offer reasonable material alternatives.

@rkagerer, you are right in that we did enough validation to get to a timeframe we felt warranted shipping this as a solution. Validation is ongoing, and if we reach a confidence level to increase that time threshold we will, and we can of course do that through a software update and communication. Given that high volume customers were the most impacted by this issue, or folks who ‘only’ print in one of these materials - for example, Elastic is heavily used in the medical industry - we wanted to ship something that will allow many to get started. Analagous to this, we used to list cartridge storage lifetime as 12 months, but at some point increased this to 18 months, and I see that most resins are now suggested as good for 24 months.


#69

Thanks @JenniferMilne, really appreciate that extra information and insight!


#70

Is it safe to assume that your statement (especially the “from now moving forward”) applies only to tanks bought directly from Formlabs and not from a local Formlabs partner?


#71

Thanks @DKirch and @JenniferMilne for your responses, much appreciated.

I’ve been storing resins in my LT tanks for months (probably up to a year in fact) with no real issues. I only print with LT tanks and I have about 7 different resins that I use. Whilst I’m not a high production user, I need to have a lot of different resins to choose from for engineering purposes and I print almost every other day. It’s very convenient for my workflow to not have to pour resin out each time.

I’ll also say that I HAVE poured resin out of the Form 3 tanks and it’s a pretty terrible experience. I’ve done spout design in the past for some of my work and the spout design on these tanks is pretty poor. Resin flows all over the spout and drips a ton. It would have been better if the spout had tapered to a point and a drip/catch feature to let small drips stick to the feature from surface tension as opposed to dripping all the way down a smooth surface towards the film.

I’ve currently been storing resin my Form 3 tanks with no noticeable problems thus far since November, 2019. I have to say that if these tanks leak after only 36 weeks of storage, and only 10 weeks for the engineering resins, that’s disappointing. Not only from a workflow perspective, but also from a consumables cost perspective. If the solution is to pour resin out, there’s also an increased chance in getting resin trapped between the film layers which is obviously problematic. Also, I think we all had the impression that these tanks would last longer than the Form 2 tanks, so if they don’t last as long as LT tanks, that’s a let down as well.

I’m glad that we at least have a solution for the other resins like Elastic though - I use it a lot and was looking forward to Elastic with lower peel forces. I know it must have been a difficult & stressful time for the Formlabs team to try and figure this out quickly. I’m hoping that things will continue to improve and that the time in which resin is stored in tanks can be extended.


#72

While stocks last?


#73

I’ll confirm this for you, but I assume our partners will start to get shipment of V2 tanks pretty soon when they re-up their stock from us. Not sure on what that exact timeline looks like and it probably varies from partner to partner but I’ll ask around a bit on that question because it’s a good one.


#74

The important difference here is the mode of failure, though. I also leave resin in my Form 2 tanks for months as a time. But the Form 2 has a rigid bottom with a PDMS layer inside. Worse case scenario, you see degradation in print quality or possible debonding of the PDMS layer. However, the new Form 3 uses tanks with a flexible membrane on the bottom, which is fundamental to their highly touted “low force stereolithography” method. If that layer fails, it fails catastrophically. And likely without warning (like overnight or over the weekend when you’re not there). Even a small tear with a slow drip can be a significant mess after many hours. What are the odds you are gonna be there to see the failure when it starts to happen? That’s why @DKirch says not to “toe the line” with the suggested service life. They probably did accelerated testing to get a statistically significant sample size and then determined the standard deviation of failure, combined with a safety factor, to determine the 10 week suggested limit. You most certainly could exceed this, as it was probably calculated to be very conservative (because it needs to be). However, you will be rolling the dice on a very messy and expensive repair on a catastrophic mode of failure that gives little to no warning in advance. Statistical MTBF is your best recourse.

Imagine if your car tires were recommended to be replaced after 30k miles, and exceeding that, you are at increasing risk of all 4 of them exploding at the same time, without warning. However, most people say the mean time between failure is at least 50% more than that, like 45k miles. Do you want to reach that statistical limit the hard way, by personal experimentation? No way, you would replace them at 30k miles. It’s a $150 tank vs. a $3,500 machine. But that need for preventative maintenance greatly increases cost for users that would prefer to wear things out before replacing. Especially when it’s not wear from use, but a clock that starts ticking from the moment resin hits the pan. New users or those unfamiliar with production environments will overlook this detail and have a major mess on their hands.

Removing the resin isn’t to improve the lifespan, it’s to reduce the fallout of catastrophic failure of a tank in storage, especially if it’s sitting in the printer unused. This, and extremely slow print times, is another reason I’m happy to stick with my Form 2 for now. It’s becoming more and more clear that the Form 3 was rushed to market with some incremental new features that are greatly offset by print speeds and modes of failure. The sales and marketing department clearly won the coin toss against the R&D department.


#75

Great info. But I think a better comparison would be to the Form 2 LT tanks, not the older ones with PDMS.

Out of curiosity do you know if the Form 3 tanks use the same protective coating as the LT tanks? (I recall someone at a conference mentioning the coating on the LT tanks is a custom-ordered material from a manufacturer that specializes in non-stick thin films).


#76

Standard Form 2 tanks last longer than Form 3 tanks, and both Standard and LT tanks have a rigid bottom, so I’m not sure why LT tanks would be a better comparison. The issue is not the PDMS layer, per se, it’s the mode of failure and the nature of the construction.


#77

The Form3 tank failure is only catastrophic if it fails while the printer is working. If it fails with the printer is not working the resin is dumped in to bottom of the machine, this isn’t too difficult to clear up. However if it fails while the printer is working then the LPU gets covered with resin, and at the very least the roller carrier on the LPU will need replacing.


#78

My form 3 gets used every month or so prototyping my products. I purchased the version 2 tank and have been printing with gray Pro For the last couple weeks. I’ve had a hundred percent print success and the prints have been very nice. In fact, I’ve had a hundred percent success with the clear and at the tough as well.

I am shocked however that I will have to throw away this new tank at the end of March. It will have been barely used.

8 months use for the standard resins is very unexpected. I will have to throw away the tank that came with my printer at the end of March as well because it will have had 8 months use. And my other tank in another few weeks. Wow.


#79

I should reiterate, there’s no guarantee that anything will fail at that time, just that I would probably be a little more careful about storing resin in the printer when you’re not actively printing with it after that time period. You won’t be locked out of using consumables at a hardware or software level or anything like that.

If you’re getting good success and you’re being careful do what works best for you. We’d just rather err on the side of caution and give folks the information they need to not have any serious issues down the line.