Form 3 Unboxing and First Impressions!


#96

have a little patience-
how many of you got great results from the get go with your first printer?
Being a new device- I read several folks saying they had some issues that it took some time and support to clear up.
Another saying that after the first firmware update that its running much better.

Formlabs is obviously trying to rely on the early adopters to help trouble shoot potential issues that will only become visible when Lots of different individual are trying to set the thing up and get it running.

And frankly- I don’t really care about ANY review from someone who’s had the thing a month.

I will wait for reviews of its operation over a year. I need more than slightly better prints in the first few weeks of ownership… I need long term reliability.

I am happy, however to see the new design is clearly aimed at eliminating the need to ship printers to Formlabs for repair. I am sure servicing Form 2s has been a major loss leader for Formlabs. User replaceable optics units is a huge improvement- most of us who make stuff are handy enough to swap a module.


#97

How many of you had a Maserati as your first car?


#98

Can you explain the maserati analogy? Maybe I have it wrong, but the Form 3 is hardly a maserati if that is what you mean. At best it is a Lexus. Maybe even just a top of line package to a base Corolla. Not an insult to the Form 3, but a real SLA system (maserati) is $100k.


#99

Fair enough, but my point is that for most folks, their first 3D printer is not a Form, it’s a cheap FDM model. We can and should expect more from something more expensive.


#100

I was one of the first to receive the Form 3 and have been working with for a while now. There are issues with the printer… some new… some Formlabs is aware of. Im surprised at the lack of input from the forum in sharing the issues… unless im literally the only one with problems. I have been printing since the early 90s and have had every iteration of the Form printer so ill be speaking on issues only and not just on how beautiful the Form 3 can print.

I have videos and pics i have sent into Formlabs. But ill share what ive seen so far.

  1. First, the printer does print beautifully but does not show a noticeable difference between the Form 2 and 3 in either 50 or 25 microns. Just want to be clear with that.

  2. It is loud during x axis motor travel… mainly during the rapid movements. Since the housing is completely open inside, it acts like a megaphone. Now, my machine has an issue with the stepper so the noise is even worse. The Form lab techs watch my video and confirmed it was extremely loud. They also were aware of the noise for X travel and are working to solve the issue with a software update.

  3. Dashboard and the printer fail to update the firmware. It stated, in the beginning, that the firmware was up to date… even though it wasn’t. I had to manually go in and update the firmware. Now, when i check it, it states an unrecognizable firmware.

  4. The printer, when placing setting up a new tank, kept ejecting the mixer/wiper to the right. Even though the mixer was placed in correctly, it kept popping off to the right as it was wiping to the left. What i did was bend the little snap arms back and forth on each end of the mixer/wiper to soften up the plastic. Almost like forming a bending hinge so that the mixer snaps in place to the left easier. This kind of solved the issue. It still kept giving errors to put the mixer in correctly. It gives you an option to ignore and proceed. During video taping for Formlabs, it took about 30 min to eventually get the printer to start printing. Once the tank had resin in it, the mixer popping off stopped.

  5. When starting a new print, i would get a fail to start print error. It didn’t matter if i chose to reprint the last print from the printers screen menu, from the dashboard, or uploaded the same print again, i would get this error and the only way to fix it, was to reboot the printer by unplugging the power.

  6. I have print shifts and surface anomalies when using 50 microns. This can be the result of the X axis stepper issue. However, when printing in 25 microns, i can’t really see print shifts or anomalies… there was a couple tiny issues but because of the layer height, its not really noticeable.

  7. The Form 3 is no way faster than the Form 2 and Formlabs has confirmed that. An example: I printed the same form file on the Form 2 and Form 3. I did not change orientation, or density, or point size, or layer height, or material. Its exactly the same print. I printed this file at 50 microns. On the Form 2, the print was a tad over 9 hours. On the Form 3, it was a tad over 16 hours. Again, Formlabs is aware and has stated the Form 3 is not faster than the Form 2 and told me their working on a software update to help with that.

  8. The software on the Form 3 currently has no idle mode… it stays on and the fan runs constantly. Formlabs recommends just leaving it on all the time or to shut the machine off, you just unplug it. There is no off button or a setting to place the printer in idle mode. So, the fan noise is normal. If its on your office desk, it may bother some but its not too loud.

  9. Dashboard does not, at least at the time i was running prints, give you feedback on print times on the Form 3. You have to rely on the estimated time on the printers screen after you upload a print. Print times are actually longer… as i was running an independent timer going.

There ya go guys. I have tested the machine and compare it to the form 2 and have only mentioned the issues with the printer in this post. Formlabs is aware of the issues… again… some new… and some they already were aware of. One of my main concerns was the release of this printer with a non final software package. I was told that the software will be an ongoing update to address the issues, add features, but also to speed the printer up to speeds equivalent to what you see in the Form 2. I have recommended adding a feature to allow you to control the mixer/wiper arm. This way you could set the printer to heat and mix the resin in the tank periodically when the printer is not in use. This way you dont have resin settling if you dont print every single day. I think the tank will last longer and the resin will always be mixed.


#101

@Kenneth_Palkow thanks for that, very informative - but you don’t touch on the peel.

The primary attraction for me is the the new low force peel mechanism - in theory it allows fewer and finer support contact points.

However there’s been at least one comment from a F3 user saying they’re not seeing any practical reduction in supports. What is your experience?


#102

I’m hoping it allows more direct platform prints without supports and reduces failures on large parts. We regularly need to print 300-600 ml parts and have had issues with peel forces.


#103

I have seen do difference in density or touch point size as a direct result of the newer peel technology. In fact, I had to use just as much density and touch point as I did on the form 2s. I intentionally decreased touch point and desnity to see how far I could push it and as a result, there were additional print issues due to not having enough support. The print did remove easier from the supports but at a cost of print quality. Now, keep in mind… my printer has mechincal issues and Formlabs is aware of it and replacing the machine as we speak. Maybe the mechincal issues like my X motor travel noise is a main part of the problem.

To Formlabs credit, I really can’t give a good base line review if the machine has mechanical issues right out of the box. That is why I did not go into what’s good about the machine. My review is on what my experience has been so far with a brand new piece of tech right out of the box. Sure I can say I love the concept of the membrane vs a hard bottom tank. Yes I love the concept of the new mixer/wiper which is designed to do an initial scrape of the build tray prior to starting the prints. It has a scraper facing up to scrape the build tray but also a wiper facing towards the membrane. It also has built in vanes to mix the resin as it moves side to side. Yes I love the peel idea of low force vs breaking the surface tension of the part surface to tank surface that you encounter on a form 2… especially when prints are large and have a large surface area. I love the new layout of the screen. The touch sensitivity is very nice. I could go on… however my printer has issues right out of the box and I can’t talk about what it’s supposed to do vs what it is doing… at least for me.

People were asking why everyone was so quiet. I figured I would let you know what im experienceing if you are considering upgrading or purchasing a brand new tech during the initial ship. I’m not telling you to hold off… but… I would love to see what the machine can do once I have my new machine to replace this one before I recommend investing in a new tech. Everything looks promising tho. During my discussions with Fortmlabs techs, they told me they were seeing some of my issues with other printers. However, the other printers usually had one of the three main issues I have where my machine has all. I’m only referring to the main issues. Again, they’re working on it. Software updates are regular so by the time my new replacement shows up, I’m assuming most of what I found would have been addressed.

Another feature I absolutely LOVE is the fact that most issues will likely be related to the LPU unit and that is what would be replaced. For the most part the entire machine would not have to be sent back to Formlabs. You woul dget a new LPU unit and there is a built in proceedure through the printers screen to walk you through switching that out. So, no more boxing up the entire printer and shipping back.

There is almost 4 gb of memory built into the machine and you can check how much memory you have via “system” - “printer details” - “storage”.

Another really awesome feature is the heating system. There is ductwork in the containment area which blows and circulates the heated air right above the tank. The screen gives main info about the printer via a pictoral display. It shows cratirdge and level left of resin in it. It then shows platform info… like is it installed or not. Also dsiplays the type of resin in the tank and it’s current temperature. There’s also a “prime” mode which basically allows you to complete print checks in advance so you can print remotely.

As stated the mixer/wiper is connected to the LPU unit via magnets… the tank’s membrane is sandwiched in-between. There is no mechanical connection of the wiper to a moving arm so to speak.

Here is another cool feature which was not mentioned. The tanks come with a kind of tupperware container to store your tanks. They are stackable as well. It’s a container and lid. I never liked the black plastic cover for the from 2 tanks. And the form 3 tank containers are grey with a typical “orange” lid. Very nice setup.

I could do an entire video on the machine. I am surprised no one has done a video on what I have discussed here. Hope this helps.


#104

@Kenneth_Palkow thankyou so much for this, as you say other F3 owners have been so quiet. I’m sure part of this is that FL is deliberately shipping slowly to try and control the growing pains of such a raw product - but also I think owners can be nervous of loss of FL support quality for being critical in the forums.

Personally I don’t think they have such a policy - they are very heavy handed with folks tinkering/repairing their own machines, but I’m fairly sure they don’t penalize folks for raising issues here - but anyway - thank you!

I hope you get your machine replaced/repaired promptly and please update us on how the peel is then?


#105

Mine arrived yesterday but I’m more in the mood to sit tight til extra vats and resin arrive before putting it through its paces. Interestingly, the US store indicates a 3-week lead time on Form 3 Vats, but the order placed a week ago claims to be shipping soon.


#106

I received my printer about a week ago testing everything I could before I gave any kind of review. Honestly I don’t really know what to say about it. I’m not getting the same kind of vibes as I did when I got the form2 as it sort of magically printed everything I threw at it, rather, I come here to read that the 50 microns setting is having anomalies which explains so much as I’ve been having inconsistent success of the prints with no changes to the file.

The silence may be just giving formlabs time to update its software which I hope is the root cause towards all the pains of figuring out the machine, which as of right now, I would say is objectively worse than the form 2 in terms of actual print-ability. It feels as though the printer was rushed out with half-baked optimization which probably needed 6-12 months worth of fine-tuning. I really don’t have anything bad to say about the hardware itself as I feel it’s indeed an upgrade but unsure about the tray.

I specifically work on miniatures and unfortunately i’m getting lower quality prints from the 25 micron setting on the form 3 than the 50 micron setting on the form 2. It’s the same problems people have talked about before of the prints details being softer and losing it’s definition in comparison to the form 2. For this part I don’t know if it’s because of the film from the tray or the resin no longer being optimized for the form 3 or simply needing more time in testing on the firmware.

I agree with about every point that Kenneth put down minus the print quality and loudness problems. Overall, I can see the machine being great but it feels like it was released way too early hence why even the 2 or so months delay in delivery.


#107

**About time! Thank you for an actual end user review with experience on previous models. This post is very informative and confirmed my suspicions about the form 3. Thank you again for taking the time to post this info.


#108

I’ll chime in with a few brief first impressions of my Form 3:
Out of the box experience was pretty good. Setup was a breeze, and Formlabs went overboard on the warnings to make sure the LPU screws are removed before using the printer. The warning stickers on the printer tore and left residue when I pulled them off, but that’s just a minor annoyance. The touchscreen works great and the UI is intuitive. I hope a future firmware update will disable the fan noise while not in use.

Fit and finish leaves a bit to be desired. The bottom chassis cover on the front appears to be warped, and the exterior is now entirely plastic instead of the nice anodized aluminum on previous printers. The industrial design seems a bit strange to me with odd curves and angles. However, what matters is on the inside, and it’s obvious this is a much more complex printer with a lot going on. Time will tell if the additional sensors and complexity have contributed a better and more reliable printer.
The new resin tanks seem great. I like the included storage container.

I’ve only done 3 prints so far (White V4), but the print quality has been underwhelming to say the least. I was expecting to see a jump in quality similar to what I experienced going from the Form 1+ to the Form 2, but sadly it feels like taking a step back. White V4 is probably not the best resin to evaluate the print quality with, but right now I’m kind of wishing I still had my Form 2. I’m sure that, over time, firmware updates and new resin formulations will unlock the true potential of the Form 3.


#109

Okay, so yeasterday the replacement printer showed up. The box overall looked fine except one corner had s mild hit… nothing different than typical shipping wear. Just a mild crush. I took the printer out of the box and noticed it wobbled quite a bit after placing it on my office desk. I looked at the legs and they were all screwed in so I’m not sure why I had a wobble of over 1/2" movement. Then I saw on the right rear side that the rear plastic cover was out and not seated under the rear of the side of the aluminum. This clearly was damage either due to shipping to Formlabs or from Formlabs. I didn’t even get as far as removing the shipping stickers. Another very upsetting thing to see was the amount of dirt inside the machine. Either this was not a new replacement or it’s cover was open and dust and dirt accumulated inside.

Needless to say, I sent a video and pics into Formlabs and waiting on their response on how to proceed. I also received, as I’m sure everyone else did, a formal email from Formlabs stating that the 3 most important resins that truly matter and used by most of us are formally not compatible with the Form 3 and they have stated their is not set time to rectify the situation. For those that purchased the 3, they should have received a coupon code for a free liter of any resin that will work with the 3.

Review: Form 3 is not better than the Form 2 with respect to, and only to the following key points that matter to end users… build size, print quality, print speed, and resin selection. Newer tech… yes. But, what does the 3 have over the 2? In my opinion, you are taking a step back. People are saying the quality is better. I won’t get into any discussions other than… I saw no difference in print quality between the two machines at any layer height. However, I saw significant print time added to builds vs the Form 2. Significant by several hours. I saw print anomalies and print shifts across a range of small to large prints. I agree with Joxol… the printer was released way too soon. I know Formlabs knows they released a printer before finalizing important things like… resin compatibility. No way they didn’t know. I was told early on that they hoped to work all know issues with software updates or resin adjustments. Seeing a coupon code being handed out and a formal statement that they have no set time to fix the issues is not a good sign.

My advice… keep supporting the Form 2. I ran 2 form 2s non stop through two seasons of Altered Carbon on Netflix, Deadpool 2, Skyscraper and a couple others and they performed flawlessly! I had no (ZERO) fails. The only fails I had were when I tried to push the machines to do something I already knew it wouldn’t. The Form 2 is (in every point important to end users. Build envelope, print times, print quality, and reliability) better than the Form 3. Knowing this… how can I justify making a business decision to purchase a Form 3L.

There ya go guys… my honest review of the Form 3. No embellishments or fabrications… just my honest experiences with this machine. Do not purchase this machine unless your intent is to help fund Formlabs financially to work out the issues. If you want a reliable printer with faster speeds, better print quality, and the same build envelope as the 3 (which actually is the same as the 2 I should say. lol), then do yourself a favor and just buy a 2. To all you guys that have 3s and love them, I ask you… did you have a 2 first? If you did, you either didn’t do an actual print comparson between the two machines using the same print file with no changes or… you got extremely lucky with your Form 3 printer and I’m jealous for that. lol


#110

I’ve been using my Form3 for about a week. Print quality compared to my Form2 is the same but some of the issues I get with the form2 are not present in my Form3 prints. For example, around half of my Form2 prints (with a new tank and resin cartridge) will end up with some coagulated resin between supports close to the print. It will print with a support adhered to the print along the entire stem of the support instead of printing with a space. In this case, the support is generally for an overhang.

The Form3 is in my experience, 30% slower than the Form2. My first prints failed, in part because for as yet unexplained reasons, part of it detached and the print just kept building upon the tank. The second failed because it would NOT come off the platform. I ended up breaking the print and gauging the platform just to remove it and this was after an overnight soak in IPA.

Using my Form2 platform, subsequent prints have at least come away from the platform.

The Form3 is LOUD. I did the firmware update but it is still LOUD. That’s ok, I don’t care so long as prints are perfect and without issues. It also smells more, perhaps due to the change in how the chamber is heated vs the Form2 heating method.

Over all…I’m undecided.

That $500 credit towards consumables, anyone actually get that???


#111

Quick update on my impressions after a few more weeks:
Form 3 is definitely smellier than the Form 2, but I don’t mind it too much.
Being able to prime the printer for remote start of prints is awesome. I do it every time.

Other than the disappointing print quality, I’m having print failures with normal rafts. The first mm or two of the raft prints fine, and then the rest gets stuck to the bottom of the resin tank.


#112

I have done 67 prints on Form 3 and have no complaints about print quality. It is superior to my two Form 2’s especially on Draft (huge difference) but also on white, grey, and flexible resins. I have had no print failures that weren’t egregious errors on the support design side, I typically use smaller supports on Form 3 in fact. Importantly, my Form 2 machines have been in operation for at least a year so they are a bit worn (we run three printers almost 24/5).

In terms of print speed, I haven’t done a proper comparison. I don’t think it is fair to just look at the estimated time because the Form 2 massively underestimates actual print time.

Noise or smell doesn’t matter to us.


#113

Unless you have the golden printer, I can’t help but find this post disingenuous as it smacks of “fan-boy” language.

I say this emphatically because the smell is a physical fact. It can’t be on one without being on all, as all use the same heating methods and its that method which is a direct contributor to the odors. Now granted, you could be using 3rd party resins if you are re-using spent cartridges to trick the printer but I doubt this is the case.

Secondly, it is slower. Formlabs admits this and again, it is a characteristic of the printer tied to software they all share, yous can’t be faster unless you have a special firmware, again —very unlikely.

My Form2 printers (all of them that I have had) have printed within 10% of the stated time. My Form3, like others that have posted on the subject, is outside of 30%.

Next I bet you want to tell us your Form3 whistles Dixie while printing as it serves you a macchiato.


#114

I’ve completed my first print with my new form 3. I’ve got no previous Form experience - what printing I have done has been FDM (and not a lot of it).

It’s only one print, of course, but that print went entirely to plan. The time estimate was within about 15 minutes of the actual print time (of a bit more than 12 hours). I don’t think the printer is “noisy.” I don’t have much to compare it to. The Form Wash is substantially louder than the printer (but not in an abnormal or unexpected way).

The print tore away from the supports in a manner that was substantially similar to the video Form shows of tearing a printed case piece off a tree of supports with just one hand and a wrenching movement. The result for me was some internal supports left behind, but a substantially completed print with good surface finish. My engraved lettering did not come through (1/32" depth in a 1/16" thick wall), but perhaps I need to iterate on my design.

If I have anything to complain about, it’s that after printing and a trip through the wash, the print still seems tacky and unfinished (I don’t think this is 3 specific, of course). I don’t have a Form Cure, but I do have a UV source. I’m going to try irradiating it for a while to see if a combination of a bit of UV and just letting the IPA evaporate will finish the print properly. Then I’ll assemble the print the rest of the way and post a picture of the result.

The dashboard doesn’t do a great job on reporting status when a job is near completion it sort of prematurely says it’s done, but if you refresh the page it’s still at 90+%. However, I did get the SMS notification at the point where the job actually finished.

Meanwhile, the printer is back at work on the next thing.


#115

Some pictures from the second print, which is somewhat more interesting. It’s a button.
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