Form 3 vs. Form 2 Faceoff!


Great question! Here are a couple more closeups. The supports are identical in Preform. The layer shifts largely occur at the same height (makes sense; they were printed at the same time), but due to the rotation their effects predominate in perpendicular directions. In fairness that might contribute to one looking more severe than the other depending on the angle viewed. Examining the supports more closely, I did notice the two right next to each other on the parallel print have a pretty bad “wobble” in the middle.


Thanks for the detailed write up. I also appreciate you noting all the specifics including the PreForm and firmware versions used in your comparisons. Our biggest opportunity to improve print performance will be through shipping subsequent versions so this is helpful to understand side by sides over time, strive for apples to apples, and I hope, give us an opportunity to show a positive trend through subsequent releases.

Your dog also kinda reminds me of Charlie the original Formdog:




Do you have any explanation for the printing issues? Are there firmware updates being worked on to address print issues? It would be nice to know these things since I suspect there are form3 buyers like myself considering returning the machine because it simply does not work as advertised.


Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for acknowledging my post, and the kind words. I’m hopeful this helps contribute in some small way toward your team isolating aberrations and effecting improvement. I’m looking forward to running tests in other resins, and would be happy to rerun several after future firmware updates to compare.

The dog does kinda resemble Charlie! I thought him when I took the photos. Fun fact: There’s a Golden Retriever named Charlie in the neighbourhood who’s pals with my pup. And his owner has a Formlabs printer.


Deeply concerned about Form 3 layer shifting.

A Form 3 is expected to be delivered next week. Worried it will not perform.

My designs are small scale models that I sell as a primary business. They are all printed at either 50 or 25 microns on a Form 2 and generally the Form 2 does very well. If the same models are printed at 100 microns on the Form 2, surface smoothness and detail are too rough to be acceptable by customers.

For my business, we need the Form 3 to print models at 50 microns with no appreciable layer shifting. If not, I can’t sell what it prints. Perhaps, for the time being, a refurb Form 2 is the better choice.

I bought a Form 3 earlier this year but canceled the order after repeated delivery delays. After not being able to find a suitable substitute at a comparable price, I recently re-ordered a Form 3 last month. I was delighted to learn that the printer would be delivered the first week of December after just a few week’s wait.

But now, after seeing these posts and the significant layer shifting issues and possible inability of the Form 3 to print at 50 microns, I am very concerned the Form 3 can’t print the products I sell. I wish I had ordered a refurb Form 2 instead.

@Formlabs, please get the Form 3 working at 50 microns and fix the layer shifting issue.

[Edit: Form 3 has arrived. It is not experiencing the layer shift shown in photos above. It is printing well at 50 microns.]


I hate to say it but, if I were you, I would be rightly concerned. I am in the same boat as you… I print mostly miniature… 3D models that I do myself and sell as finished products. The Form 2 has been a workhorse champ fo rthis stuff, but so far I have not gotten a Form 3 print that would be acceptable for a final product. I did hear back from support today but we’re still in the “working on it” stage.


Our new Form 3 arrived a few days ago and we’ve been printing steady with it with small and large models of varying geometric complexity. The models are generally products for scale model ships.

A quick summary for comparison with your experience:

  1. All models have been printed at 50 microns with standard gray resin. Touchpoints are a mix of 0.6 mm and 0.4 mm.

  2. None of our prints have shown any of the layer shifting seen in photos of the posts above. [Edit: subsequent prints all exhibit layer shifting and bulged surfaces. These defects are not present on models printed with a Form 2.]

  3. Surfaces are generally smoother with the Form 3 than with the Form 2.

  4. Small detail looks as good or better on the Form 3 than on the Form 2. [Edit: surface details on subsequent prints appeared misshapen with soft edges.]

  5. Small openings, such as model ship portholes and open doorways and hatches, are not as well defined on the Form 3. Edges look kind of “mushy”. The Form 2 produces small openings with crisper edges and more precise shapes than does the Form 3. [Edit: circular openings are misshapen. The top of the openings is noticeably sunken downward, distorted parallel to the build platform.]

  6. All models attempted so far have been successfully printed except one. That small, failed model routinely prints very well on our Form 2. That model has failed twice out of two attempts on the Form 3. Portions did not form. More supports were added to the model after the first fail but the second attempt failed as well. Perhaps for some models, the Form 3 may require a lot more supports than the Form 2.

Some observations about the printer compared to the Form 2, echoing comments made by others in other threads:

  1. Setup was rather painless. I really like that the optical mechanism is enclosed as a removable cartridge. The Form 3 enclosure is much larger than the Form 2 with lots of accessible space (love that - Form 2 printer maintenance and optical path cleaning are very difficult for me to perform in the small space of the Form 2 enclosure).

  2. The resin cartridge fits more loosely in the Form 3.

  3. The Form 3 is much louder than the Form 2, producing various sounds during a layer cycle.

  4. The Form 3 requires a lot more resin to fill the tank before the first print.

  5. Preform will import *.form files of models previously printed on the Form 2 but will require a new supports configuration for that model to be printable on the Form 3. This means having a *.form file for the Form 2 and another *.form file for the Form 3 for each design. Since all of my designs’ support configurations are manually adjusted, most quite heavily, a new *.form file with manually adjusted touchpoints will be needed for all of the designs to be printed on the Form 3. This will be a lot of work moving forward since we have over 1400 designs to import. For models with simple geometries where little or no manual support adjustment was needed, the import may not require new work. [Edit: see my post below for the fix - there is a setting which can be enabled to import touchpoint sizes.]

  6. The Form 3 requires a lot more time to generate a print file and upload the file to the printer. Perhaps the new *.form file is much larger than what was needed on the Form 2.

Here are some photos of a few of the models printed so far:


Has the option to import touchpoint locations and size been of help?


Good question.

Until you asked, I had not noticed that there was the possibility to import touchpoint sizes. I erroneously thought only touchpoint locations could be imported. So went looking for it. Here’s what I found:

When Preform imports the supports, it does not import touchpoint sizes by default. When you open a *.form file previously saved for printing with a Form 2, an “import support locations” menu appears. The menu explicitly states “Support settings are incompatible”. Hidden under “Show advanced” options, importing touchpoint sizes is possible. To enable that, you click an open box. The menu states importing touchpoint sizes is “Not Recommended”.

The “Show advanced” options also permit you to “Disable internal supports”.

Thanks for the headsup regarding importing touchpoint sizes. I’ll definitely try it since that would be an enormously helpful and time-saving capability.

A few more observations about the printer compared to a Form 2:

  1. The Form 3 touchscreen is larger. Much easier to operate, especially when wearing gloves. Love that.

  2. Before a print cycle, the Form 3’s touchscreen indicates that the optical path is being checked. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it sure sounds good.

  3. The Form 3 is about the same height and depth as the Form 2 but much wider side-to-side.

  4. The Form 3 resin tank is much bigger than the Form 1/Form 2 LT tank. It has larger handles on the sides making it easier to hold without touching the bottom of the tank.

  5. The orange Form 3 cover’s plastic is thinner than the cover of my Form 2, It has a lighter feel to it.

  6. When a print is complete, the Form 2 touchscreen displays a trashcan for deleting the file from the printer. The Form 3 does not display the trashcan when the print is complete. To delete a file from the Form 3, open the file from the file list on the touchscreen and you can delete the file.

  7. The sounds the Form 3 makes take a little getting used to. A typical print layer cycle produces various mechanical sounds, one of which is quite loud making me erroneously think at first there was something wrong.

  8. Much has been said in other threads about print times. I have not yet run the Form 2 next to the Form 3 with the same model to compare print times. Having said that, Form 3 print times seem reasonable. The sales rep did tell me that the Form 3 was designed for faster printing but presently the software and/or firmware is set to deliberately slow the print cycle. She explained that Formlabs intends to release “throttled up” firmware in the future.


larsenstephen, thanks for posting your images. It’s the sort of work we are asked to do and we are currently running assorted test parts.

Out of interest, how have you got on with regard to warping or accuracy of straight faces and edges?

I agree that edges seem a little soft.


Straight edge accuracy looks good. None of the models printed so far show any evidence of warping.

{Edit: subsequent prints all exhibit layer shifting and surface bulging. The same models printed on a Form 2 do not have these defects.]

There is a firmware update available today. The next prints will be post-update. Hopefully edges of openings like doors, hatches and portholes will be more precise.


Thanks for the tip! I’ll retry a few prints. Per the 1.4.4 release notes:

Anyone able to elaborate on the refinements and their intended effect?


Im hoping this may help with the terrible layer shifting.

Here are my latest prints…a smal lens and small hollow dome… awful layering/ warping… whatever you want to call it. Been happening in everything i print.


Updated my Form 3’s firmware to the latest 1.4.4 (automatic failed, but manual update worked) and reprinted the cups:

Both of these are from the Form 3. The layer shift ripples are still present. Preform 3.2.2, layer height 50um. I hope we don’t have to wait another month for another firmware update to test :-(.

Bad prints out of brand New Form 3

Wow. Those prints are deeply worrisome. We’re using standard gray resin and don’t see any layer shifting or warping. Could the problem be specific to certain resins?

{Edit: our Form 3 is experiencing the same kinds of layer shifting and surface bulging on vertical and curved surfaces. FL support reports future firmware updates will address this issue.]

Our Form 3 has begun having WiFi connectivity issues after a week of stable connectivity. Comparatively, our Form 2 has had a stable connection for months. The Form 3 shows that it is on the network with a valid IP address. Preform does not see the Form 3 but does see the Form 2.

After Preform reported the Form 3 had disconnected from WiFi at some point during the night, we rebooted the printer and re-opened Preform. Preform briefly recognized the Form 3 long enough to upload a job but then reported the Form 3 had disconnected again shortly afterwards.

We have found that we can fix the problem by disabling WiFi on the Form 3 touchscreen then re-enabling it. For whatever reason, Preform then sees the Form 3.

Oddly, Preform shows the Form 2 is connected and has stayed connected to the same network the whole time. Both the Form 2 and Form 3 are in the same room but on a different floor than the computer running Preform. The Form 3’s touchscreen reports that it sees the network (and others) and that the signal strength is “good”.



My Form 2 has dropped the WiFi connection randomly over the last 3 years, and now the Form 3 is acting the same way. I’ve never been able to pin point a cause, but thought it may be interference from other networks, atmospherics or even cosmic rays. In the end I’ve just accepted it as one of the quirks of WiFi.


@rkagerer posted his cup objects (as .form files) in the first post of this thread.
Can you, perhaps, try printing them and see what you get?

I did, in grey, and the warping is there, pretty much at same heights and in the same way he’s getting them.


Those print files are actually mine :smiley: But anyway, just having a little fun in the midst of this extremely annoying prolem.

Yeah I reprinted the lens and the dome with the new firmware and there was no difference whatsoever. As a matter of fact after the update the lens completely failed during one of the prints.


Ah, sorry.
Either way, i’d really like anyone claiming they don’t get warping print them, as it’s geometry-dependent.


I understand, I was just providing some levity :slight_smile: