Is it worth it to buy a new Form 3 now?


I wanted to ask you guys if you would recommend to buy a new Form 3? As I read so many issues in this forum. Especially „bad prints from Form 3“

There is also an alternative for me, the Peopoly Phenom.
What do you think?


Personally, at the moment, I would buy a used Form 2.

I’d echo that. Buy a form 2 in good condition and you won’t go wrong.

It depends on what you print.

For very fine figures, you might still want to go with the form 2. We mostly print at 50 and 100 um and the form 3 is a workhorse for us.

I agree with the Form 2 folks. The Form 3 has been a major disappointment for me, but at @fantasy2 stated, I print miniatures in 1/6 scale and the Form 2 is an absolute beast for my needs while the Form 3 was, putting it bluntly, a train wreck. I was highly disappointed in the Form 3.

Thanks guys for your replies. Really appreciate it ! It’s hard to make a decision but I think I will go with the Form 3. I am going to print functional parts only , no miniatures. So hopefully it does the job and Formlabs solves the problems they have… :wink:

Myabe it would be a good idea to see if FormLabs or someone here could print a sample part or two for you so that you can judge for yourself if the quality meets your needs.

Any info on the b9 printers?

I just finished doing some tests with the newest firmware and black resin, and what I’ll say is that if you are just printing black, then it gives the kind of performance you would expect for the price. As of right now, if you want to print grey, clear, or tough, you are probably better off going with a cheaper printer, because you are not going to get the kind of quality you probably expect for the price. I am getting good results out of castable wax, with the jewelry settings, and black on 50 micron, but everything else is still disappointing.

To be fair, there has been improvement, so I have hope they will fix these problems, but it isn’t there yet.

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@lmlloyd are you using the normal Preform build for Castable Wax, or the special jewelry beta?

Just normal Preform, latest version, with the soft touch supports. It still isn’t perfect, there were some surface artifacts, but nothing that didn’t come out in the normal polishing I do before making the wax tree.

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had Form 3 from months, 000 fails, works great

0 fails, I am impressed. If you’ve had such good luck, do you see excess resin near the supports on your part? Worse if you have geometry that is parallel to the build plate that has supports. If those aren’t an issue with yours, then I’d like to clone your machine.

  • if you refer near supports on building platform are some spots but realy insignificant as quantity and that can be take it with a spatula and put back in the resin tank
  • at contact point of supports with the model there I have no problem; anyway I don’t leave the default settings for rafts as PreForm soft generate, I decrease the density to 0.8 - 0.7 and also the touchpoint size to 0.5, for most of the models
  • indeed when you have parallel geometry you could have excess but as I read this before on the forums I try to avoid this and when is no way then I edit the supports density for that part, it will not solve the problem but it will improve it and then if you have a good washing solvent the problem is much solved, just some sanding after cure it

I am a new user of the Form 3 and new to Formlabs.

I have done lots of prototyping, with CNC, Objet, SLA, etc…

Currently just printing with Preform 3.5.1 .85 density, .55 tp contact, with Draft Resin

I bought 2 Draft resin as advised… Don’t.

OOB experience was excellent, I am on my second Draft Resin.

Preform Auto setup does not work well, and Preform is a bit over-automated. Draft Resin limits you to FFF resolution.

Prints are fast, clean, high surface quality for Draft. I am disappointed that I started with Draft, and can’t wait to get to a higher resolution.

I am working on filtering IPA and drying with Microsieves, currently prewash manually for a minute and run through the Form Wash and Cure… works great and I am also using Cure to cure paint…

Form2 has the same issue, I wouldn’t really call it an issue though, it’s something you have to deal with when doing SLA printing.

Hi Simon, i bought a cheaper Kelant S400 printer first, it was just a bad experience. I bought the form 3 and the whole process just doesn’t compare. Cost is a relative thing nothing from Formlabs is cheap for instance the resin is close to 5 times the price of a lot of competitor stuff. HOWEVER the first printer lasted just under 4 weeks before i happily got rid of it with a failure rate of 60% The Form 3 has been amazing by comparison, again it is expensive by comparison but it is a whole system from start to finish and i have had a 96% success rate, the losses were because of a failed resin tank and the others by me trying to reduce support too far. In short i would highly recommend the Form 3, and Thinglab who sells Formlabs here in Australia sent a new tray out the same day i spoke to them about the failed tray. My opinion only but if you can’t get something done 60% of the time and with much less supplier support … that is too expensive!!!

I’m actually a little undecided regarding my Form³…

On the one side it just saved me around €1’000.- by allowing me to 3D Print my own tracks for a 1:16 Scale Model Tank instead of buying them off a store and I gotta say they came out beautifully with practically no visible support marks due to me being able to make use of the geometry on the tracks and placing the supports on the corners but then I’m 3D Printing a simple Test Cube to see which clearances would work best for selftapping screws on the next part and it again produces this kind of garbage that sends me up the wall - WHY!?

I was ( maybe still am ) also having issues with not being able to make use of the entire Build Platform while 3D Printing the recent Track Project so instead of 20 sets I was only able to make 15 because the area opposite the Wiper Side was constantly producing failed prints with torn off or warped pieces despite the supports in that area 3D printing without issues. The Tank itself has no user observable errors in that area and my 2nd Tank used for Clear parts showed no such issues with the same test parts 3D printed that failed with Grey - HOW!?

Alas Support has shipped me ( yet to arrive ) a replacement Tank so I got that going for me letting me hope this solving the issue for the future but these kind of quirks are ANNOYING as hell DESPITE it producing flawless parts when all the stars align in the right way.

I kinda wish Formlabs would do something like what Autodesks Lars Christensen did with Fusion360 and do a bunch of VERY IN DEPTH YouTube Tutorial Videos on how to get the best results out of various 3D Prints mainly focussed on preventing the need for post processing because quite frankly just hiding behind Auto Generated Supports and sanding / miliputting the errors out is not doing the Machine justice.

Like with my Tracks… Common sense would have told me to use the flat side with like 6 heavy 0.6 supports and have an easier time sanding the resulting marks down but due to some freak moment of absent mindedness I went with the cleats side using twice as much but, mostly, lighter 0.35 supports requiriing no post processing at all - Where’s the tutorial for that?

I hope you get my drift ;D

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@Durahl, those tank tracks are gorgeous. Did you print individual segments then snap-fit them together?

One tool I’ve found very helpful over the years to “gauge” the likelihood of success of a print before running it is the slicer. I’ll often walk through the layers from platform to the end of my print, and check for a few things, mainly:

How well supported are any “islands” where new areas of my print begin? Preform support generation and minima detection has gotten a lot better at this over the years. Still, if you’re printing with very small contact points (e.g. < 0.4mm) keep in mind placing a couple heftier ones near the beginning of a printed segment can help keep your model rigidly in place as the initial layers form.

How large are any overhangs? Cantilevers and bridges tend to “droop” as you get further away from their supporting points (hence the concave cavities on the bottom surface of your cube).

Is my part angled, and does the location of the current layer “travel” as you scroll through the layers? If your printed layers all “stack” in the same area of the build platform, it can lead to some warping at the edges (for some types of prints) due to the way the resin shrinks slightly when it cures.

I’ve seen success with cubes by orienting them such that one corner points toward the build platform (so the first few layers grow like an inverted pyramid).

You can alternatively try placing one surface directly against the build platform - the solid connection seems to prevent edges curling up - but then you need to compensate for early layer compression.

Of course, these are only rules of thumb, and my advice might not be as helpful to you as a video tutorial. But personally I find there’s no better way than playing with the machine and trying stuff out to gain a deep intuition for how to optimize your results.

You’ve already discovered that putting some thought into how you orient your prints can drastically improve final model quality and reduce the amount of post-processing required. As you alluded, Auto-Orient doesn’t know which surfaces are important so there’s no substitute for a bit of human touch here. I click the button until it puts my part in a position close to what I want, then adjust to taste.

Where I’m able, I tend to design my part from start to finish with the print process in mind - for many projects I’ve found it’s possible to avoid supports altogether (which makes post-processing so much easier). And I’m beginning to appreciate the softer peel process on the Form 3 to gain a bit more latitude to bend the rules.

Hope this helps a little…

Snap Fit wouldn’t do for a planned functional model so the tracks are all pinned using 1mm brass pins in supposedly 1.3mm holes but since I didn’t want to bore all of them out I decided to just buy smaller diameter brass rods and stick with the "1.3"mm holes. This Imgur Album shows a detailed view of the older design of the Tracks I used for testing and to get me into the mood for actually tackling the project but the model then used is an updated design that that had some changes mainly to the Contact Shoe Link ( the large one ).

All supports were hand placed with the first contact making support(s) left at 0.6mm whereas the majority of the subsequent ones were toned down to 0.35mm. For safety I decided to place some 0.5mm ones further up the print where I felt they could be needed to guarantee the parts safety should the smaller ones fail - Video of me pulling the supports off the parts like a ripe fruit xD

I think I’ll be sacrificing some resin to test out the different support diameters and see how far I can push them and if it would help against the ridging like shown on the test cube ( which btw was rotated at X/Y 45° )