New 1+ owner - prints fail

The business next door closed down, and I inherited their 1+. It had a little bit of clear resin in the tank so I tried using it for a small print but all I got was a thin slab on the build platform and another slab on the bottom of the tank. I figured this was likely because a) old resin and b) unknown resin, so I got a bottle of anycubic gray because it’s cheap; However it’s doing the same thing.

Ultimately I plan to use Formlabs Elastic to make replacement feet for refurbishing laptops but I’d like to get some familiarity with SLA before I start buying $100 resin…

I know my way around Zcorp printers but needless to say this is completely different :- )

Ideas/pointers?

Disassemble and clean optics. Follow instructions for doing so, from the Support portion of this site, and follow religiously.

If that doesn’t do it, you’ll need to source a replacement laser.

But based on your description I’m guessing it’s dirty mirrors.

You’ll need to do the big primary mirror plus the two galvo mirrors plus the laser lens.

Your problem might not have anything to do with dirty optics.

The Anycubic resin you bought will not work in the Formlabs printers unfortunately. It was designed for mSLA printing, where the resin is cured with UV light. The FormLabs resin uses a laser to cure the resin, which is like 20 times more concentrated than regular UV light.

You’ll have to buy some resin made for laser SLA printers. If you don’t want to spend the money on FormLabs resin, then try ApplyLabWorks. They make resins specifically designed for printers like the Form 1+, and it’s about half the price of FormLabs resin.

Many folks here are using this resin with very good results, especially on older models like the Form 1/1+ and Form 2

Looking at the large mirror I can see a few dust motes. I have seen the movie “Real Genius” so I know the importance of cleaning your optics, especially where a laser is involved :- ) However a few other projects have taken over at work and have pushed the 1+ to the side. I hope to get back to it in a week or two.

I’ll also look into other resins, and apparently there’s an open source software package that can be used instead of Preform, which allows for custom tuning of exposures etc. Gonna play with that as well.

Reading through the forum here I’m learning how these printers work in more detail and that’s helpful too. For instance I’ve learned about the “peel” maneuver. Is this something you can see, or is it just a few tenths of a mm? Because I don’t see the resin tank tilting noticeably, and I’ve seen several posts about failed peel motors. I can see where, if the raft does not come off of the resin bed easily as its being printed (because no peel?) it might also cause the situation I’m encountering.

The peel operation is very pronounced. If you’re not seeing the resin tank tilt (the right side moves down about 1/2" during the peel), then your tilt motor may indeed be busted. I think I have a spare from when my Form1+ had a problem and Formlabs sent me one, which I installed, which didn’t fix the issue - so I have the one I removed and it was still good when I removed it. If you need a motor and FL can’t provide one, PM me and I’d be willing to send you the one I’ve got (assuming I can find it).

As for the mirrors, the issue is hazing and not usually outright particulate. The hazing is going to be difficult to see unless you get the light you’re using for inspection to reflect at the right angle. But if the machine’s never had its mirrors cleaned I think it’s almost 100% certain the mirrors need cleaning. With my Form1+, I think I cleaned the mirrors every 12 months or so (so I cleaned them 2x before I retired the machine in favor of a Form2).

[EDIT]

Just happened to scroll past this picture from 2015 when I replaced the motor in my Form1+…

Found a picture from when I did this back in 2015…

Thanks for the help!

I can absolutely verify that my resin tank is not tilting half an inch. So the peel mechanism needs to be looked at for sure. I hope to be able to get to that on Monday.

Is there a document someplace that describes the 1+ operation in detail? (Remember in “The Trouble with Tribbles” where Scotty gets confined to his quarters? And he’s happy because it will give him extra time to read technical manuals? Yeah, I can relate :- )

Not that I’m aware of. But it’s pretty simple. Build plate drops to some set height above the bottom of the tank, laser shoots the layer, peel operation tilts the resin tank down on the right side then lifts the tank back to level, lather, rinse, repeat.

This sounds exactly like the problems I had with an inherited 1+ a few weeks ago - I got very few successful prints, mostly blobs. Having never used the 1+ before, it took a while to realize that the peel motor was stuck, and needed replacing. After describing my issue and troubleshooting to Formlabs support, they sent out a new motor for free within a few days. Try contacting them!

Check my post history for some more background on the issue, and search around for how to open the printer and have a look at the peel motor. If you hold the shaft still when turning on the printer, the shaft should move up or down in relation to the motor body.

Edit: Here’s the whole ticket explaining my issue to Formlabs support:

Original request for Case #00570395:

Hi! I have a Form 1+ where the tilt mechanism has stopped working. I have done a good amount of testing, and narrowed it down to the tilt mechanism stepper being defective.

Symptoms are: During tilt stage of print, stepper shaft only vibrates (looses steps), does not pull down.

The most important tests were:

Test A: disconnected tilt stepper from tilt mechanism at the small black screw holding the shaft to the tilt coupler. This allowed stepper to freely rotate its shaft without issue.

Test B: With shaft disconnected from tilt mechanism, I kept the shaft from rotating with a pair of pliers. I would expect the shaft to then move up or down, but the stepper cannot overcome its internal friction and starts loosing steps instead.

My current theory is that this friction has to do with either worn out bearings inside the stepper, or spilled resin/debris inside the stepper.

I have been looking at resellers of the specific stepper, but they seem very hard to come by these days. Are you able to point me in the right direction, or even supply a spare part for me?

Thanks!

This 1+ is a “work thing” and it’s not the boss’ top priority, so I have to spend way too much time thinking about it (while on other projects) and not as much doing as I’d like…

But today I got a chance to play a little, and I can see that there’s a major spill of clear resin all down the shaft of the peel motor. In fact the whole bottom of the printer is pretty much awash in clear resin. So there’s a major disassembly and cleaning in my future, to be sure. Good news is that it looks like the mirrors are just a bit dusty; no resin on them. (I’m guessing that these would be first-surface mirrors, and resin on them would probably be a death sentence)

So anyway, I’m not sure when I’m going to get to tear this thing down and scrub it out, but maybe I can free up the peel motor when I do. If I can’t fix the existing motor, you folks have given me a couple potential sources for replacements.

Yes, these mirrors have the reflective coating on the front. I call 'em “Primary” Mirrors 'cause that’s what they’re called in Telescopes.

Is there a document someplace that lays out disassembly instructions for the 1+? If not, are there gotchas I should be aware of before I dive in?

I’m going to need to strip this all the way down; it actually leaves little blobs of resin behind just sitting on the table – amazingly the mirrors seem OK but there’s resin everywhere else inside.

UPDATE: Good news and bad news…

I contacted Formlabs and asked about sources for parts and procedures. Their immediate response was to email me 2 detailed pdfs on replacing the Peel motor and replacing the small mirror, and also ship me a replacement peel motor and small mirror – in their words, “on the house”. I didn’t even pay shipping!

I then proceeded to detail-strip the 1+ and clean out resin. There was tacky clear resin everywhere and it took 8-10 hours over several days to clean it out; there is actually still some in places I just couldn’t get to.

Remarkably, the mirrors cleaned up OK. The small mirror was completely coated with tacky clear resin; the large mirror was just very dusty. The company I work for used to do camera lens repair and although all those folks (and their expertise) are gone now, their tools and supplies are here so that gave me some confidence to attempt to salvage the small mirror. In the event it turns out to be bad after all, I have the replacement standing by. But it looks OK.

One of the things I did to clean up resin was to undo the 4 nuts capturing the springs in the resin tank holder in order to completely disassemble it and clean resin from between the two main parts of the holder. I took a photo to document how much thread was exposed so I could tighten the nuts back to their original level.

I think I must have overtightened them (causing the resin tank to be lower than it should be), because my first test print failed to adhere to the build platform. So I loosened them up and tried again. Now I have printed a raft and some rudimentary supports, however the part itself failed to materialize. Worse, the soft material in the bottom of the resin tank is damaged – there are gouges where the supports were printing.

I deduce from this that there are (at least!) two things wrong right now: First, I need to set the resin tank height much more carefully, and second, the exposure parameters are not correct for the resin I’m using.

I have a bottle of Anycubic gray resin, which obviously is not listed as an option in Preform :- ) but I’ve set up the OpenFL version and tried using the sample .ini file that it came with. Clearly (pun intended) this printer is able to expose the Anycubic resin, because it set up hard enough to damage the resin tank! So there should be some combination of settings to get a usable print from it.

I’ve put the printer aside for now; does anyone have advice on getting my resin tank properly lined up?

Dear @CrashGordon, Did you go further on since Jan 21 ? :wink: Best !

No, no progress so far. This is a work project and the boss keeps prioritizing other things ahead of it.

I plan to find something I can use to patch the holes in the resin tank. I know this will affect print quality but I need to get a full print of something in order to justify spending money on doing things properly (e.g. getting a replacement tank and/or resurfacing the existing one).

I notice in the .ini file that there appear to be separate exposure settings for supports and the actual part… Since the supports printed and the part did not, I’m going to try copying the support settings into the part section. However, first I want to get the resin tank height correct; that may be sufficient to get workable prints.

I’ve purchased a (used, but up-and-running) Anycubic Photon for personal use, but it hasn’t been delivered yet. That will at least get me the opportunity to print something successfully and gain some familiarity with the SLA process.