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Form 3L Issue Seen on Video!

Hello Formlabs Community.

I know it’s an exciting time now that the Form 3 is finally here. I saw the first impressions review here. @Mark_Harrison covered the printer very well here. As he mentioned, “The “film” is very thick and nothing like what we have seen on some other low cost machines. It is wrapped around metal rods on each end to hold it in tension and there is a secondary seal on the interior or the tank. Only time will tell, but initial impressions are very encouraging!” I am thinking of getting the big brother, the Form 3L. I am trying to scour the internet for reviews and people’s comments to make an informed decision. It’s strange why they would not send out test printers so people can review them and they can have feedback to resolve the minor bugs/issues.

Now, coming to the main issue. I FOUND THAT THE PROMOTIONAL VIDEO FORMLABS RELEASED FOR FORM 3L HAS A MAJOR MAJOR ISSUE. THE PRINTED PART SHOWN IN THE VIDEO (A SPEAKER HOUSING), IS BASICALLY A FAILED PRINT. They added A FAILED PRINT for the video. Look at the series of images below and you’ll understand why. @Formlabs I hope you’re reading this. @Mark_Harrison your post is very popular and I hope you can help spread the word.

The first image we have here is the STL file loaded in the Preform software. Make note of the top section of this STL. Just make note of how it looks and how it should form. We will come back to this.

The second image is of the printer UI, where it shows the part in a preview window once the part is finished. Note that it’s basically what we saw on Preform. Still everything is okay. Follow the top section.

Now we come to the main stuff. I don’t believe it that no one else noticed this. Take a look at the image below. Notice something off on the top section? (circled). THE PART DID NOT FORM! IT IS A FAILED PRINT ON THAT SECTION. It has multiple final layers just missing. It should be symmetrical. The edge did not form at all. Look how close it is to the opening and compare it to the section near the build plate.

Here is another picture showing it more clearly. Compare the top section (red) with the bottom section (green). You can clearly see that it just did not print by approximately 1cm. The side edge of the speaker just did not print on the top section. See how the edge on the top is literally connected to the circular opening, and on the bottom, which formed correctly, it has an offset!

The final image. This is where all my speculation came true unfortunately. A small speaker, which has been printed perfectly, is placed side by side with the same big speaker. Look how symmetrical it is vertically. The large speaker is not the same. See how cleverly @Formlabs tried to hide it by darkening the area on the left? I must say commendable try since many people didn’t notice at. I might be some of the very very few who did. I did not see anyone notice it in the youtube comment section either.

Please don’t misinterpret this post as hate. I love @Formlabs and their machines. I am as excited as the whole 3D printing community. But this worries me. Why did they release a video like this? This shows that their Form 3 line is still not fully engineered - mainly the flexible resin tank. The new LFS technology with the new tank is what might have caused the error on the Form 3L. Maybe marketing forced them to release the video without even solving all the issues. I am sure they knew their part failed. It’s unfortunate that they chose to go with it. It shows that they did not have time to solve it. Is that a reason why all their orders are delayed? Instead of apologizing for delaying orders, why don’t they take time to fully engineer the machine, and then release a video or put it up for sale when they are ready? All this haste is doing no good.

All I want to know now from @Formlabs is what happened to the part? Why did the Form 3L fail like that? Have you resolved that issue? Is the LFS fully capable and tested? What is the life of the resin tank?

This issue makes my trust in Formlabs waver. Before I saw this in the video, I was 100% sure to order the machine within a couple of days, since I want to get my hands on one as soon as possible (knowing the delayed orders). Now, it seems like a big risk. The community needs to know this. Whoever is reading this, please help spread the word. Make people aware. Make @Formlabs aware. How can we place pre-orders for machines that haven’t even been reviewed, especially after looking at this video, that @Formlabs themselves posted despite knowing the print failed. I am glad I noticed this. Hopefully it helps the community.

Here is the link to the video if you want to see it yourself.

Thank you. I hope this post sees the light of the day.

@Frew @Zachary_Brackin @JohnHue @KenCitron @Randy_Cohen @Dudemeister @fantasy2


Despite the size or even cost of the machine any printer can fail at any given time. This is a very good catch, one that I’m sure many have not noticed. Though if I had to guess they noticed but decided to go ahead with the promotion video anyways just to get it taken care of due to time constraints. Someone probably forgot to replace the resin during the print and the rest just failed to finish. Instead of waiting another X amount of hours to reprint they just shot the promotion. Is this a poor practice on their part? Absolutely, but I feel the Form 3L will be of the same quality that their printers are known for. I would still wait for reviews and getting the initial bugs out of the way. It’s sad that these printers are not in the hands of more in depth reviews and industry experts by now but I would wait to see what they post and their long term faults they run into versus what you noticed on this one video.

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I imagine a film crew- hired to shoot some video for a promo.

They got footage of it printing, went over and caught footage of someone playing with the file in Preform…
and then waited to shoot pulling the part out.
The Formlabs folks say it will take 4 hours for the print to finish.
fine, they break for lunch.
then come back four hours later- it still isn’t done. " you said it would finish in 4 hours…"
" well- our software does not always estimate printing time accurately… its gonna take another 3 hours."

“We haven’t got 3 hours- we’re going home at five- "
" Okay, we’ll pull the print now just to get the shots you need.”


Most likely stuff like that are due to the videos being produced while they were still doing work on the printer

Thank you for your insight @Charmande. You’re right. We are all aware how 3D prints can fail any time due to a number of reasons. And I know the quality of Formlabs printers and I always stand by it.
But what concerned me is they released the video with that error. And as you said, since we don’t have any expert reviews, errors like these make us doubt the functionality of the printer. When all is said and done, I have no doubt that the Form 3 will be the best in the market.

@Zachary_Brackin @Sculptingman you make a good point. They probably just wanted to get the shots done before work was finished. That alone in itself would not have raised any alarm bells.
But, the lack of solid reviews that after putting the printer up for sale for over 3 months, coupled with the order delays of Form 3, and potentially the Form 3L makes me a little uneasy. LFS is completely new and I just want to know if Formlabs did their due diligence in testing it completely before mass market release.

We haven’t seen any indication that there’s an issue with the new process, the flaw shown in the Form3L video wouldn’t have been from that anyway, since it printed 99% of the print just fine

Yes I understand that majority of the print is great. But a Form 3L is a considerable investment and lack of in-depth reviews is going to keep users wary. The thing is, I don’t know if that error was LFS, or the flexible tank, or both?

I do not mean to suggest the printer has no problems-
I am dead CERTAIN it has problems. ANY entirely new device ALWAYS has problems, most of which are unknown until a good many users get ahold of it.
I have done beta testing on software and hardware; I have never beta tested anything in which I did not uncover at least one problem, often a dozen. I have designed products for manufacture- and have never seen anyone design anything moderately complex that came off its initial assembly line flawlessly functional.

( and I classify the machine not being able to accurately estimate print times as a problem- I use those estimates to factor bids.)

The thing is- NO review you will read about this machine will be “expert reviews” until those ‘experts;’ have been running the machine consistently for many months or even a year.

What you will get in most online reviews is a Cursory Impression from folks who have run the machine maybe 5 times. Often from folks who only ever ran a Form 2 five times. ( because reviewing products is their job- they don’t use them professionally )

Where you will glean useful information is in the complaints you see on this forum about the machine over a period of 8 months to a year.

Anyone who wants to buy this machine in the first 6 to 12 months of its production is an early adopter and ought to be awre of the fact that they are part of the design refinement process.

I am hoping the users who buy this machine find nothing but problems that can be fixed with firmware updates…
But I am not buying one until I see from long term user feedback that the machine is more pleasure than pain.

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@Sculptingman You’re absolutely right. We will never know until this machine and this new technology passes the test of time. At least 6 months for considerable reviews and a year for consistent reviews.

So the choices seem simple, either become an early adopter, or wait for Formlabs to flush out all the problems. The wait is very long. It’s a tough spot. We want the latest but need to wait for it to be perfected. Form 2 is still a great option but it’s not the latest.

Funny thing is, the shipping delays are just adding more time to that wait. First batch of Form 3Ls won’t ship until Q4 end (IF they are true to word). Since Form 3 is delayed, I expect them to allocate resources to get the Form 3 out first and then the Form 3L…eventually causing delays over 2 months to the 3L as well.
Basically, I think I should forget about getting any solid reviews before 2020 end.

because I have worked in product development for 35 years, I actually look on shipping delays as a GOOD thing. ( unlike the folks who ordered and are upset that it hasn’t arrived )

Shipping delays for a new device often come down to the manufacturer making changes to the product design or production line, to solve problems that become apparent once manufacturing ramps up.
e.g. a sensor that is turning out to be faulty 20% of the time instead of the expected 2% of the time. you have to source a better sensor- or get your sensor supplier to sort their shit out… or figure out if something in how workers are assembling the machine is causing those faults…
So you stop production, fix the problem, then start again and trial run the fix.
Or perhaps a high percentage of machines shipped are arriving broken… is your design too fragile? Or can you design a better packaging to solve the problem? Modify the packaging and then you have to re-pack all the production you have ready to go- because what’s the point of shipping a bunch of machines only to have to pay to ship 20 % of them back?

Sometimes its just a logistics issue with suppliers who can’t meet their deliveries ( because of something in THEIR production pipeline that they need to fix )

But generally- I would always rather they take their time and get it as right as they can before they ship me the one I am going to have to live with.


@Sculptingman You are wise. I like the perspective.

PS- on the other hand- while the machine looks interesting- My 1 year old Form 2 still runs just fine, and the Form 3 offers no advantages I need enough to warrant spending another $4k before the Form 2 has paid off its purchase.

I will run the Form 2 until it drops… or I can’t get parts- and press it to make me enough money that I can afford to buy a second or 3rd year run Form 3L- which DOES offer the one thing that the Form 2 can’t- size.

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@Sculptingman what’s your take on the life of these printers? - not just build and functionality wise, but also in technological relevance. Suppose I go for the Form 2, will it be relevant for at least 2 to 3 years from now?
By then we can expect the Form 3L to be running and functioning optimally if an upgrade is required.

Edit: Apparently Formlabs no longer sells new Form 2 printers, only the refurbished Form 2 package. Basically pushing consumers for the Form 3 now.

my new Form 2 turned out to be a lemon- it was massive failures print after print-
Formlabs replaced it with a refurbished machine that has run pretty flawlessly since then, so I have no worries over their refurbished units as they may well be repaired and tested by folks far more competent than the assembly line.

I do not print all that much- but I figured if I could get $1800 in billables out of it per year, and it lasted 4 years- i would be ahead of the cost curve. e.g.- we mostly do large scale sculptures- occasional smaller product design. the last project I printed was for a life size sculpture of a figure holding an SLR camera- we printed the full scale model of the SLR camera and parts of the hands holding the camera in 4 sections and assembled for the sculpture - but the billing is for the sculpture overall. So my income is not dependent on the printer… if it broke- we could have just sculpted the camera by hand- I employ the printer when its going to be faster or less costly than doing the part by some other means. Ownership of the printer means that I do not pay the profit and overhead of outside sources and so I use it more often than I used to source outside printing.
Though we still outsource outside printing for parts the Form 2 can’t reasonably handle.
And most of our digital work is having outside sources 5 axis mill the lifesize or larger figures in urethane foam that we then cover with 2mm of plastilene to do the finished surfacing.

The job before that was the parts to assemble 16 miniature Dr. Seuss Sneetches…

That said- I am content to wait for history on the Form 3L because I HAVE a Form 2 already. I bought it because it was the second iteration of the Form 1 and likely most of the issues had been resolved.
As to your situation- if I was looking to buy today the fact that they will discontinue support in the 2rd year of ownership would make me leery of buying a Form 2 today- as it would take me longer than that to pay for its cost thru use.
However- if you plan to run the thing everyday- it might well pay off, given that you can get the unit at dramatically lower cost. You will have to look at your own cost/benefit to make that determination.

If I had no printer at all, and were shopping for one today- given the fact that most of what we print we have to print in sections to assemble the thing we are actually after- then the volume of the 3L would be mighty tempting.
Its a stretch for my budget, tho, and would stretch that budget even tighter if it spent a lot of time down, or ran thru a lot of resin on bad prints. Given that I would rather have the volume- I might have taken the gamble on Formlabs history with the hope that they would be extra good about servicing their early adopters well.But I would still wait 6 months to get the feedback from steady usage.

What is your situation? DO you have another printer? do you really need one?
How much would you bill if you had one? Enough to pay a profit on it within 6 months?

If Yes- then you have a choice- a lower cost, KNOWN performer that will only last 2 years. And will have little resale value at that time.
Or - take a risk on a more costly machine that you can feel confident will be supported for at least 4 years moving forward, maybe longer if it turns out to be a reliable technology.

If you are billing for what you print- the Form 2 would likely make you money faster.
The Form 3 might make you money longer.

OR- is your need for a printer low enough that you can wait 6 months to hear more in depth info on how the new machines run?

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While I have sculpting tools and mold knives that are 50 years old and older… overall- I do not buy much of any electronic gizmo expecting it to last more than 4 years.
I get 4 years out of a smart phone- 4 years out of an iPad - 4 years out of a printer. From 85 thru 2008 I got about 4 years out of each computer I bought before having to upgrade to match improving software and hardware… since then, computers are no longer getting measurably faster or more capable- so now I only buy used computers… which, being old, tend to crap out after 3 to 4 years ( but only cost $800 to replace 'cause they’re used )

I bought the Form 2 based upon a cost benefit analysis over 4 years.

As it turn out that last year will be on faith… since I think they discontinue service by then…

If it has no major issues needing service- it could run 5… tho I would be surprised.
Anything over 4 years on electronics I consider gravy.

I have been using 3D printing and milling in my career pretty non stop since 1997- but i only bought a 3D printer a little over a year ago… because the technology was simply evolving too fast to warrant investment in a quality of print that would would be eclipsed by better machines within 6 months. It made more sense to use outside service bureaus because they always had the newest printers.

But SLA and filament are pretty mature tech now-
To me- other than the fact that the Form 3 will be serviced longer than the Form 2- the machines are essentially equivalent.
But the 3L- if it works as well as promised, would be the first significant increase in SLA print volume that doesn’t require In Vat printing. But for $10 k- It better damn well last 6+ years in continuous use.

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The Form3L is not due for release until 2020 Q1, so ‘scouring the internet for a review’ four, or maybe six, months before anyone can buy one is really a waste of time.

The thing that stood out for me about that ad was that the took a leaf out of the furniture ad makers cheat sheet and used the smallest female model they could find.


@Sculptingman thanks a lot man. Very detailed explanation. I am feeling inclined to go for the Form 3L. I have an FDM and an old Form 1+ which doesn’t work anymore. Tried hard to fix it but it’s out of time now. I need an SLA soon for prototyping with accuracy and hopefully using the prototypes as samples. The print size is one of the main convincing factors. Hoping Formlabs to service and take good care of early adopters. With the warranty I think everything should be okay. And yes, 6+ years should be a minimum for a $10k + machine.

@billb you’re right. We aren’t going to get decent reviews until 2020 end. So might as well take the risk since it’s a long wait and a new printer is urgent.

Haha, I see what they did there with the ad now. The printer is not as big as it looks basically.


First off, excellent eye! You are indeed correct that the 3D printed speaker housing used in our launch video is not a completed print. I must have seen that video half a dozen times and even I didn’t catch it.

Sculptingman and Zachary Brackin are essentially right with their theories. A big print like that requires more than an eight hour workday to complete. In this particular instance, the printer ran out of resin overnight. With the Form 3L more than six months away from full production and shipping at the time of filming the video, we hadn’t yet built in the feature that would pause the print when the cartridge was empty and alert us to put in a new cartridge. It just printed until the tank ran empty.

Video productions tend to be a big ordeal, with logistical challenges such as staffing and location rentals. Based on the video shoot schedule, we didn’t have time to reprint this part, so we decided to use this almost-complete part. We made what we thought was the right call for our plan to announce the Form 3 and Form 3L together.

You’ll note that I didn’t say “failed print” here. The Form 3L is capable of printing this part—it just needs enough resin :slight_smile:

Below I’ve included an image of the completed part at the launch trade show. (Do note that the text underneath it describes the small speaker)

You also brought up the lack of reviews as a cause for concern. For the Form 3L, well, we haven’t shipped it yet and we don’t plan to do so until they’re ready. As for the Form 3, I have to admit that I am also a bit surprised to see that there haven’t been too many customer reviews yet. Despite an initial delay, we are shipping units, steadily, more and more each day. Along with you, I look forward to seeing more customer reviews soon.