Form1 usage

I have been reading these forums for a while now and it seems that most owners of the Form1 use it for printing sculptures, figurines, jewelry and such like, but not mechanical parts, prototyping etc. Is this because FDM printers are better at this or is there some other reason for my observation? David

I think that we see lots of sculptures, figurines and jewelry because they are cool to look at.  I think in many cases, prototyping and mechanical parts are only meaningful to the person/company who needs them, so we see less prints because they are less interesting to look at.   For example, if I posted a picture of a gear, most people would say “so what, its a gear”.  Nothing special or unique to it compared to some of the amazing sculpture and art that have been posted.

Besides the test prints I have been doing and one other personal project, all of my prints have been mechanical parts or prototypes but as David said…not that interesting.

@ Dylan

How are you finding it for this use? Im still waiting for delivery and saw some machines having calibration issues, which might be concerning as I intend to use it for prototypes and mechanical parts also.

It works really well once you start integrating it into your workflow better.  Depending on your orientation, geometry, support settings, etc you can minimize the error you get.  On most pieces I get better than +/- .010 in dimensional accuracy.  Some of the time better, some of it worse.  Occasionally if the part I’m printing interfaces with something already made and I need a really tight fit between them I will just print/design it a bit small and sand to fit.  Most of my parts I’ve been making have been first gen prototypes so a lot of the time just having the part in hand and being able to see it in 3D gives me a lot of insight on where to change the next iteration and steer the design for future prototypes.  Being able to make a napkin sketch at lunch and have a print in my hand by bedtime has definitely changed the way I design.

@ Dylan

Thanks, thats great to know.

@ David Da Costa

In addition to the prints not being so interesting, some of them might be RnD prototypes that can’t be shared.

I print mostly mechanical parts and while they do look good i am having a hard time with the dimensional accuracy, as it can vary -+0,3mm, and the parts we produce, often need better tolerances than that.

But still, it is nice to be able to quickly create a prototype to play with.

Thanks you for the input.

The reason I originally asked the question is because for the same price (approx) of the Form 1 I can buy 2 FDM printers and from my experience with my Afinia printer (UP Plus) I can hold +/- 0.03mm or better dimensional accuracy.  So I was wondering for those that use the Form1 for mechanical / prototype parts, what made you choose the Form 1 over an FDM printer?

I have attached a picture of a prototype extruder that I just finished building that Is printed on my Afinia.

We have a Afina, Airwolf 3D XL, the Form1 and we farm out large prints which are done on Objet and 3D systems industrial printers. Almost all our pets are hard surface models, although we did an ad campaign recently for AXE and we printed all the figures (army soldiers and bikini girls) too.

We are all VERY impressed with the Afina and for mechanical parts it has been very very good. The Form1 can do very good mechanical parts too and we have done it, but it is much more finicky and unless you have a lot more detail it often isn’t worth it. We have also seen some inconsistencies with part accuracy that we have not seen with the Afina or farmed out parts. I think a lot of that comes down to the software. How the object is shelled and/or supported makes a huge difference in how the part turns out on the Form1. Formlabs really need to address this in their software. I feel bad because we keep on falling back on our Afina for prints because it is more consistent with the quality of parts we get off of it, but when the stars align and we get a great part off the Form1 the part is very very nice especially if there is a lot of detail.

Hi David, I think most of mechanical printouts are ideas which have an interest of real products. Those won’t published until the rights reserved. The same game for new designs. For those people it’s easier when a shopfunktion for formfiles exists to open some pandora. If you need to know that mechanical design works? I have to say yes. I print out some designs of an vacuum pump and some gears. At least the people need to understand how to construct. I don’ t know how much people can do the math of modulus (evolventen- und zykloidenverzahnung, linksgewinde für Kunststoffschrauben (see german2english)) Bye Ben

Hi David! I have the same FDM machine as yours, so I can give you a good comparison, I am surprised though Form1 used laser and very thin layer thickness, the part comes form it always has warp and thus lead to a inaccurate print. You know the best orientation for FDM print is straight up (print vertically), to keep the straight line straight and flat face flat, however in Form1 it recommends print at an angle, and with a peel movement in every layer, it kind of twist the asymmetric  model and cause the warp happen, I think that is the reason Form1 can’t produce high accurate part.

The FDM machine, however don’t need to print object at an angle, and without an extra peeling movement, the model keeps straight up, and that leads to a better accuracy than Form1. If you place a model at an angle on a FDM machine, you can never get very accurate result, lets face it, most mechanical parts have flat fact, straight line regular shape and in right angle, the FDM prints the part straight up, and when you measure the part, you measure from end to end, flat face to flat face, of course you get very high accuracy, but if you print it at an angle like Form1 does, you can never get an accurate part, you may get warp part just like Form1 does.

So I suggest, if you print mechanical parts on Form1, try to print it straight up like you do in FDM machine. The surface may be a little bumper, but you get better measure from end to end.

For those who own both FDM and Form one, like myself, I will recommend print mechanical parts on FDM and art piece on Form1. Neither of them will replace each other.

This thread is VERY disturbing to me…  I have a Dimension FDM printer, and has print resolution down to 0.010" layers.  I want the Form1 as it should be able to beat that resolution hands down.  From what I am hearing, they may well not be the case.  The images I see if parts off the B9 Creator seem to be very good accuracy, and it uses a peel plate too.  Why would the Form1 have issues with resolution if the B9 does not?  I think I am 49% there to cancelling my order…

By the way, Afinia has very strange but solid support that you won’t see from other FDM machine, between the supports and the print part, there is a inverse print shape membrane that fully contact with the print part, so the bottom of the part is strongly supported, it is very very hard to remove the membrane, but once it is removed, the surface of the bottom is smooth without leaving dots or lines that need to be finished. I guess that is another reason that keep the print accurate.

@Mike Phillips  I think you misunderstood my post.  the layers go down to ~.001 in and very often I get total tolerances in the +/- .005 or below range.  In general though if I’m whipping up something quick in Solidworks and don’t take the time to figure out a really good orientation and supports I just assume +/- .010 in. just to make designing and fitting easier.  I printed something looking like a DNA helix with tubes as small as the minimum feature size (.012 in) with little problem

@lock  that is actually incorrect advise.  Printing something flat on the build platform, especially anything thin is guaranteed to warp once it dries.  I’m not sure if its the drying of the alcohol out of the part or some possible post curing that happens once you take it out, but printing it at an angle prevents these drying forces and the associated tension in the part to a minimum.  If anything, printing something straight up and down is better than flat because it makes the layers in the X/Y very small with very little force between layers to warp anything.  The only parts I’ve had warp on me very much were both flat parts printed too close to horizontal. Once I increased the angle to the base they printed much better

I’m very interested to hear others’ experiences in regards to printing functional mechanical parts on the Form 1.  I do product development, and am constantly getting RP parts made of electronics enclosures, iPhone cases, plastic injection molded parts…i.e. parts that have fairly tightly toleranced features (+/- .005" or better for the most part, much of the time with features that need to mate and be positionally matched between different assembly components).  Anyone out there using Form 1 in this type of environment care to share your experiences?

Hi David, Group,

I print almost entirely mechanical prototype parts for my employer (Tier-1 supplier in the automotive industry). Unfortunately, I can’t post nearly any of the things on the forum because they are proprietary and don’t belong to me in the first place.

That being said, my experience – We had a first gen Makerbot Cupcake which was HORRIBLE. Absolutely the worst. Nowadays, they may be OK, but back 4 years ago they were worthless. We have farmed out all our prototype print needs to quickparts, which do an OK job. You would think they would have stellar quality, but I’ve seen some parts from our Form1 which is better quality than Quickparts. (I think Quickparts is using high speed print settings which causes the lack of quality).

Now we have our Form1, we’re starting to do more printing in-house. For us, the Form1 has much less “babysitting” than an FDM printer and the resolution/quality of the Form1 is much much better. We are printing very small (less than 1 inch in any direction) but intricate parts) so FDM is practically impossible for my particular application

David (Clark),

Thank you for posting your experiences, and that is encouraging to hear.  How is the precision on the Form 1?  Have you found tolerances to be reasonably good (+/- .005")?  You mentioned not having to babysit the machine - does that mean part/print failure is uncommon?

You should expect a precision closer to 0,015±. thats the experience i got using the printer.

The parts tends to warp slighty, and the dimension variance also depends on how the part is positioned.

While the printer is indeed very easy to use and the parts do look great, i am not too impressed with the dimensional accuracy.

we sometimes use a third party for printing, and they have better dimensional accuracy, but they also use alot more expensive printers.

But for the price i do not think you can get a better printer than the Form 1 at current moment

Darn, that is too bad.  +/- .015" is too loose for a lot of my parts.  The place I usually use prints SLA and has great precision…was hoping Form 1 could do the same and hit +/- .005".  Well that’s good to know up front, though.  Thank you, Patrick.

I have seen bowing come up a few times.  Does it come off the printer bowed, or does it bow is it finishes curing in open air?  My local SLA printing house puts all parts in a high UV cure box to finalize curing after the part is complete - seems to me the Form1 parts should be handled the same.  If bowing happens over time, treating it after it comes off the printer may “fix” the part in place before it has a chance to bow.  In addition, if possible, using something to hold thin walls in position during the final cure would assist in keeping bow to a minimum.

I hope to get my resin today.  Got my printer on Saturday, but Indy weather borked up the resin delivery : (