Mirror cleaning

I’m having pretty much 100% print failures (see image for my latest one).  Thought I might try cleaning the mirrors.  I did clean the big one under the resin tank (prior to this last failure) but in looking around the forum I didn’t see anything related to the other mirrors.  I assume there is more than one since I often see the term ‘mirrors’ used.  The Formlabs instructions do a good job of explaining how to clean them, but not where they are or how to get to them.  Can someone tell me: How many mirrors there are, Where they are located, How to get at them (do I have to remove the top?) And to keep me from screwing up :slight_smile: if the top has to be removed, which screws are taken out and anything I should be aware of when I do it (such as alignment issues)

Thanks much!

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It is a good idea to check the mirrors but keep in mind I would not open up the machine.  There are 4 mirrors.  the 1 large mirror you can see.  The small one in the aluminum block that unless you use something like a q-tip, you are most likely not getting to it.  Then there are the 2 - 1 on each galvo.  I would not touch either of them.  You can sort of see how dirty they are by looking at the reflections in the large mirror.  Before going crazy cleaning the mirrors (unless there are large chunks that you can see) I would give the butterflies a test print.  The part you have pictured looks printable but not in the orientation you have it.  I could be wrong but that is not optimal.  If you post up the .form file we can take a look and re-orient it.  But if you give the auto-orient a try, it should come out better then that.  (I think)


The print in your photo looks a lot like the prints that were coming off my machine. Support had me do a spot test and the resulting spot ended up being fuzzy. In such cases, they’ve had me send the printer back. I would contact support to see what they think; they might walk you through the spot test and printing of the butterflies that David mentioned.

David, thanks for your quick response, sorry I haven’t been quicker in responding because I was hoping to have some positive results before responding, however with Tj’s post thought I would provide an update.

Soon after posting my request I got an answer back from Formlabs support with a photo showing the mirror placement and their recommendation to not open the case.  I cleaned the mirrors, tried again, another failure so I opened a support ticket with photos of my fails.  Formlabs has been quite responsive.  First the sent me a test file that had five butterflies in it (printed four but the fifth fell into the tank early on).  They thought the problem might have been a thin base (it was printing at 1mm and suggested upping to 4mm).  That actually provided a worse print!  From the photo I sent they said it looked like a tank problem they have seen in the pastand are sending me a new one.  I expect that isn’t going to be the case because I’ve used a couple different tanks and resins (and this was a new one) but will try it.  After that, I expect it will get shipped back, it’s clear something isn’t right.

Tj, can you tell me about how long it took took to cycle your printer through Formlabs?

Again David, sorry for the delayed response.



No worries.  Can you take a good picture looking through your vat with no resin in it.  Make sure we can see any clouding and the galvo mirrors through and post up the picture.  Can you also post up the pictures of the butterflies you sent them.  Do you still have multiple vats?  If yes, I would do the butterfly test in each vat with pictures through them to show the clouding before you fill them up.  This may save you time in the long run.  It is nice to get a new vat but if you still have them waiting a week for a vat when it may be a hardware issue seems silly to me.  Also, did they have you do the laser spot test?  If yes, what did it look like?

For the 5th butterfly that fell in the drink, how thick was the base?

Depending on where on this mud ball you live, assuming somewhere in the continental USA, I will guess your turn-around time will be ~2 - 3 weeks from the day you ship your unit out the door.


Can you take a good picture looking through your vat with no resin in it: Would have to clean a tank to do that, maybe able to do Sunday

Make sure we can see any clouding and the galvo mirrors through and post up the picture: The image they sent me only had two mirrors (large one under the tank and a smaller one back/center.  I assume those are the galvo mirrors.

Do you still have multiple vats? No, although I tried to be careful cleaning the junk out, it was soooo stuck to the bottom I damaged by other two.  One pulled a chunk out (maybe stuck to the solid resin) while I likely scratched the other trying to clean it.  I’m going to try the fix suggested in another post once I get a chance to order the materials.  Good think about a scratched tank is I get to experiment a little :slight_smile:

Also, did they have you do the laser spot test? No first I’ve heard of it

For the 5th butterfly that fell in the drink, how thick was the base?  Hard to tell but I would say it was about the same as the ones that did not fail.  I can say it was base only, it hadn’t started building supports.

mud ball you live: Florida

Images attached:

Butterfly test, all default settings (butterfly full image)

Butterfly test, closeup of one.  It seems to be printing a nice thin layer across much of the entire head, part of it came off when I popped the butterfly off (butterfly 5)

Last print, with 4mm setting, everything else standard settings (fail 1 and fail 2



When you look down through the vat you will see the large mirror.  Looking into the mirror straight down you should also see the small mirror.  You will then see 2 very small mirrors 90 degrees to each other.  1 on the peel side and the other at the front of the machine.  The laser is at the peel side.  You may just be able to see the hole for where it is mounted.  The very small mirrors are attached to the galvo’s.  The point is to see how well you can see.  I am sure the mirrors are clean but with this if there is enough light it will be easy to see the reflections through the mirrors to the galvo’s and you should be able to see any clouding.  I am just curious what it looks like.

I have destroyed 2 vats trying to remove stuck resin.  I have a third I just discovered has a little tear in it.  I am going to try and replace the PDMS layer on them one of these days.

The laser spot test will show you what the shape of the laser is.  I do not know how to get to that part of the diagnostics but I am sure someone here can chime in with how to enable it in the software.

I can only see 1 picture of 4 butterflies and the spot where # 5 has nothing.

Being that you are in Fla, I will give a non-educated guess if they have to replace the printer you are looking at 2.5 weeks.  I hope it does not come to that but time will tell.


Whoops! Sorry, I thought I responded to this. :stuck_out_tongue:

Wendell: it took about a week of test prints and laser spot tests and photos before they determined that my printer needed to be sent back.

Hmm, ya I also went through a similar issue with my printer. It turned out to be the laser went bad. Once they figured out that was the case they had me mail my printer back to them and they shipped me a brand new one. I am also in Florida so it took a little under a full week to get the new one shipped to me once they received my old printer which also took about the same amount of time to get to them. They 2.5 week guess up above is correct because it took them a couple days to process my printer once they received it.

Richard, where in FL are you?  I’m in the Inverness/Crystal River area.  I expect I’m the only one within 100 miles that has even heard of 3D printing, let alone has a Form1 :slight_smile: but I thought I would ask.  I expect a lot of Form 1’s go to businesses but for those of us interested in a Form 1 meet up, I wonder if there is a way FormLabs could ID people’s location (say by city or zip) and an email address.  It would be nice to have a fellow Form 1 person to swap ideas/challenges/experiences within striking distance.


I’m in Orlando. They actually just added 3d printers to the main public library in downtown Orlando.

They just opened a section at the library funded by a woman who worked as a Librarian for 25 years. Her son donated millions of dollars in her name and they created an entire floor dedicated to giving people access to technology that no other library offers. It’s pretty amazing. Check it out if you are ever in the Orlando area  http://tic.ocls.info/

Also if you are interested I created a skype channel for people who use the Form 1. It’s not very active yet but I only have 3 other members so far. I posted a thread about it here https://support.formlabs.com/entries/39595393-Skype-Chat-room

Who knows maybe we can organize a 3d printing meetup at some point. I worked in the video game industry for over 5 years so I know lots of 3d modelers and I know some who bought 3d printers themselves.

I get to Orlando periodically (will actually pass through next Monday, returning from VA via Auto Train).  I will definitely go to the Orlando library and see what they have, sounds very progressive.  I’m familiar with Skype but haven’t used it in years, not familiar with channels but I assume it’s much like Google Hangouts or other similar services.  I’m prepared to drive someplace for a meetup if there are enough interested.  I too was sort of in the video game business.  Was one of three people that did a modeling and simulation/video game startup in the SF Bay area.  Company sold, I moved to consulting for a few years, now spend most of my time sitting on my dock and thinking about how much more fun 3D printing was when my printer worked :slight_smile:

p.s. just sent my spot test results back to Formlabs.  We shall see.


Nice, I just rode the auto train from Sanford FL to Lorton VA at Christmas time. I grew up in Virginia and still have family there so it makes things convenient. Ya, I’m now doing Simulation work and no longer work in the video game industry. It’s similar work though just don’t get to see my titles on the store shelf anymore. Good luck with the spot test. They quickly were able to determine my laser was not working properly from my diagnostic test.

David, Jared, Richard: Thanks to all for your responses to my original question.  The problem has been resolved, turned out to be a bad laser.   Formlabs replaced my printer and I’ve had six straight perfect prints, so I’m back in business :slight_smile:  Kudos to the Formlabs support team for helping me work through this and to Formlabs for replacing my printer without hesitation (and they paid the shipping both ways no less!).