# How much resin is left?

Perhaps there is a better way, but I’m always curious about how much resin is left in the cartridge. The bottle weighs enough that it can be confusing. Some cartridges solve this by putting a clear window on the side with markings.

I suspect you experts can tell just by picking up a cartridge. 1 liter, .5 liters, .25 liters?

Since the tray holds a fixed amount, once the tray is filled, I would think you should know pretty much exactly how much resin you have to work with.

All you have to do is … weight the cartridge right? Full bottle = x, empty bottle = y. x-y is the weight of the resin from a full bottle. A percentage can be determined by simply weighing the bottle. Can the printer do this?

1 Like

Didn’t the printer already graphically shows how much resin is left ? At least it does show the level in the dashboard.

Having a clear window would allow UV light to contaminate the uncured resin so that would be counterproductive.

I agree that a percentage-based estimate of what is left in the cartridge would be great.

There is a graphical representation of this on the printer and in the dashboard. It is important to remember this is a representation of how much resin has been dispensed from said cartridge…not how much is actually in the cartridge. Any mishap from a spill, to someone pouring some out, or pouring more into a cartridge would render the reading useless.

I suppose some sort of a float valve with an external indicator could work but i doubt they are going to re-engineer their cartridges at this point.

To answer the OP’s question, you could weigh and do the math. I believe the tray holds 240ml by default although I could be off by 5% or so.

I have a postal scale, and simply weight the cartridges. I then put a stickie note on the cartridge with the current weight in grams. At some point, I’ll get good at knowing how many grams equals full vs half empty etc.

My suggestion to FormLabs would be to put a weight sensor in the printer, and display the results on the main screen :-).

3 Likes

Having a “clear” window in the cartridge is still the easiest solution I suspect (a conversation with the cartridge vendor). The window would have to be UV resistant of course, but clear enough to see the resin level. I still like seeing the remaining resin level accurately represented on the printer (so you don’t have to yank the cartridge), but in the meantime … I guess we can weigh LOL.

When no more resin comes out, the cartridge is empty.

7 Likes

The printer will pause if the resin cartridge runs out and you can swap during the print.

There is about 1kg of resin in a cartridge so if you weigh a new one it’s easy to calculate a percentage. 500g used is 50% etc.

Unfortunately, the printer did not pause… it issued an error message along the lines of “Jammed Motors”.

I asked support if “Jammed Motors” (in this context) means “Out of resin” :-).

The error does allow me to hit continue… and I have a replacement cartridge arriving today… so I’m hoping for the best. The print is a two day affair.

The message from the printer should be something along the lines of “Cartridge empty retry?”

A jammed motor error might be some thing totally different. I always take pictures of unusual errors on the machine to document them if a problem becomes regular.

Jammed motors isn’t caused by issues with cartridge dispense and usually means that either the wiper is having trouble going across the tank or the tank is having trouble peeling. Bypassing a motors jammed error could be a bit risky unless you’re aware of what’s caused it. Oftentimes, it’s from a portion of a print falling into the tank and obstructing the wiper.

I still have a problem with peeling on prints that cover a large percentage of the build platform. Since few of my actual models are that dense, it has only happened while the Base is being printed. The printer starts the peel by attempting to move the resin tray to the right. The print does not separate and as a result the resin tray motion drags the build platform to the right with it. After a few mm of motion the build platform and resin tank snap back to the left with a loud “thunk” and the process repeats.

Typically, when this happens it cycles 5 or 6 times before the peel succeeds. But I have had one print where it went through this cycle 11 times before the print finally peeled free. I was expecting a “Jammed Motor” error but never got one and the print finished cleanly. I’ve never had a motor jammed error even though I have had many instances where the motor was indeed jammed. I am dubious that this motor jammed error actually exists!

It turned out a significant portion of my huge part “sheared” in some way and fell into the tank. It was in the back, and the same color as the resin, so I didn’t notice it. Half a tank of resin wasted… sigh.

Partially my fault; I thought the print would work without supports. My head is still in the FDM world I think.

There is currently no quantifiable information in the “Machine’s Display” or “preform” to show how much resin is left to organise multiple 3d prints.

It a guess work right now if it need to change cartridge or not and I know this information is widely available information for most professional 3d printer,

The estimated resin left is available in the online dashboard, but the printer itself will also pop up a warning if it’s possible that you may run out of resin in a print.

You also have to realize you are not comparing apples to apples. The stratasys machine you are referencing (unless my google skills are failing me) is a \$32,000 machine, while the F2 is about 1/10 that.

As @Zachary_Brackin mentioned the printer will give you estimates similar to an inkjet printer, a visible indicator of about how much resin is left and warnings when it is about to run out.

If memory serves me the machine gives you a visual representation of approximate material use. When it gets low I order more. Don’t understand the reason to wait for new material until the last possible moment…

If it’s a huge print I order more material by default. If it’s not for me the cost is passed on for the entire cartridge.

The printer detects when the cartridge is no longer dispensing resin and it pauses the print to alert you to install a new cartridge. That’s a pretty standard way for a printer to manage consumables. For the sake of comparison, I don’t know how many pages I’m going to get from the toner left in my laser printer, either. But when the printer thinks it’s run out, it pauses when I tell it to print something and it reminds me that it needs toner.

Judging from the fact that the Stratasys printer has separate materials listed for “Model” and “Supports” I’m going to guess it’s an FDM machine. So it’s feeding plastic off a spool and through an extruder. That’s a lot easier to track because the filament is driven by a stepper motor. The printer knows exactly how many meters of filament it has fed on to the printbed. For a SLA printer, it’s a much harder task. You can increase the cost and complexity of the printer, and reduce its reliability, by using a pump to move resin from the reservoir into the resin tank and metering the flow. Or you can do what FL did, which is a simple gravity fed delivery mechanism with an equally simple rubber valve to control the release of resin. Substantially less complicated, less expensive, and more reliable.

Metering resin gives you a precise measure of what’s extracted from the reservoir but it doesn’t tell you exactly how much was used in the print. And unless you’re down to your last cartridge of resin and you’re trying to maximize the last prints you can make until more resin arrives, knowing how much resin has been removed from the cartridge doesn’t really help you. Just always make sure you have one unused cartridge on hand and swap in the new cartridge when the printer says “I’m out” (and then, order another cartridge).

As soon as I’ve installed the last cartridge of resin of the type I’m using, I order another. I wouldn’t mind a feature in Dashboard that lets me do a one-button reorder of a given resin whenever it sees I’ve put a new cartridge of the same type in the printer. “You seem to be using a lot of Tough V4 resin, would you like to order more?”

Agree with the toner as it is a powder base in a spool (for 2D), For 3D just look up SLS software and I believe none of them do material usage because they use a dual tank transfer, which always a fixed number when filling up the tank.

All Stratasys FDM machine uses a predefined chip to determine it volume so even if it reach zero there are still plenty of filament left in the cartridges. This is deliberate by Stratasys to force people to buy Stratasys own filament when feeding into their machines, because their filament is 8~10x cost higher than you could normally get from enthusiast ABS filaments.

Anyway, besides the point about Stratasys milking money from pro owners, even they conceded to include material usage and left over before print, Also I’ve noticed some high end enthusiast FDM machines promoted the use of smart sensor to detect filament in realtime such as the Z18, Cubicon 3D and other enclosed heater chamber FDM

The whole point of “material left in the cartridge” is to plan ahead before print. Ask any professional model makers and they will say they can’t live without this feature.

This sensor is nothing new, special or costly, in fact Form2 already has this kind of sensor (I believe it an estimated value), Nevertheless it currently displays in the Dashboard and so there is absolutely no reason to export this information out to “Preform” and the “touch display on the machine” i.e. they only needs a firmware update.

Unfortunately, this isn’t good enough for professional use. As I need to plan ahead for multiple large prints (and sometimes in different materials) and the machine is situated in an office environment which I can’t physically change cartridge at off office hours like weekends while meeting deadlines.

Ask any pro modelling maker and they will say the same thing. Also the technology is already available in the Form 2 machine, if it can export information to a web dashboard, then there is absolutely no reason to display this info on the machine itself (or even into the Preform software).

Unfortunately, under any new design & prints it has to be done in secret (or sign a NDA) for any company and the current dashboard display too much information available on the web. This would severely negate any design company to use the dashboard (So I have to switch this feature off).

note: even if it an estimated value, it better than nothing. It is this important!

There are a few different factors influencing how much resin is left in a cartridge which is why we’re tentative to give exact values. Factors like the amount of resin on the print before it’s washed and material removed from a tank whether it be from a failure or other feature will impact the amount of resin remaining. This is why we approximate resin level by quarters rather than giving exact values. On the ‘Your Printer’ screen, the cartridge icon does approximate the amount of resin left in the tank by quarters.

Dashboard would be a good solution for more precise tracking. We never collect geometry data and all of your designs remain entirely private. Dashboard will allow you to track material usage for all of the prints on a given cartridge and this can be used to approximate how much resin is left in the cartridge. Adding a bit of padding to compensate for resin left on a print would be good practice and edge cases like print failures could be manually compensated for.