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Not one usable print in months with my Form 3L

I have owned my Form 3L since July 2021.
It took almost 1 month for me to receive onboarding.
The next month was then filled with technical troubleshooting.
When they finally sent me an LPU for replacement, printing could begin.
But immediately there were problems with the results again.
They exchanged my resin tank V1 for a tank V2.
And indeed, I was able to print almost error-free for almost 6 weeks.
Then suddenly the final nightmare began.
Since October, not a single usable print has left my printer.
All have sometimes more, sometimes less delaminations.
The extremely friendly and helpful customer support has since supplied me with about 10 new V2 tanks and replaced the lost resin. In the meantime, I have even received 2 more Form 3L printers as replacements. But even with these, not one usable print was produced.
Support has offered to print one of my print files in their lab twice in the meantime and, strangely enough, they were both flawless!? This still leaves me trying further.
But I am now very disappointed and desperate. They say a refund is not possible, time is flying and the warranty will end in a few months.
My planned art project as a source of joy has turned into a single source of frustration.

Sorry to say but I feel exploited as a beta tester of an immature product!

We had some problems too since a year. If you haven’t, you can read this post : Form 3L Issues - Support & Troubleshooting / Form 3L - Formlabs Community Forum

I have to say that now, all the problems I had are resolved. So keep working with support. I wish you all the best. I know it’s frustrating. Community could help you maybe. Great guys here.

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I feel your pain!!! I’ve been through this exersize will multiple printers, starting with the 1+
It all worked out eventually, but at great cost in time wasted, lost production, and missed opportunities.

I got my 3L in July as well, DOA, and got a replacement in September. Since then I’ve been quite happy.

A few thoughts.

Have you tried more than one type of resin? Just curious.
When failures started, was that a new file, or new resin?

What changed, if anything. Sometimes it’s the thing we didn’t focus on that was the change that blew things up. It could be something minor, that you just don’t think of.

Since those exact files (no changes, right?) print successfully at FL, I see two possibilites.

One, there’s something in your environment. Line voltage and room temperature are the two that I’d look at. If you have fluctuations in the current, you might need to conditon the electrical feed with a UPS. I know spending more money isn’t a happy thought, but it might be necessary.

The other possibility is you’ve been cursed, cuz these things do work, but QC isn’t what one would hope for, and expect.

Would you share a file that’s failed? As a .form and an sla?

And finally, you should ask for an extension on the warrantee, with a full year from when it starts working.

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Hi Rob. Did you get an extension on the warranty on your Form 3L? Just curious. Because last summer, I’ve ask FL and they didn’t want to give me one. As you are saying, I was writing them that the warranty should start when the printer is fully operational, not beta.

Thank you for keeping my hope alive!!!

Hey! You are welcome! Don’t give up. As you know 3d printing takes time, courage, stubbornness… But when it’s working, we are happy. Small victories. But the printer should work properly, of course. It’s not always our fault. :smiley:

Thank you for your compassion and numerous thoughts on my problem. I have only used the white resin so far and cannot change to another resin for my project, as this one has exactly the properties I need. It is an art project where the elements have to be white, translucent and projectable.
I rule out problems with voltage fluctuations because the printer is in an industrial environment with some technical equipment. Nevertheless, I’ll check it out.
As far as the ambient temperature is concerned, there could indeed be fluctuations from time to time. However, these should not be in the unusual range, so the heating function of the printer should be able to compensate for this.
As for any changes that may have led to the start of the series of problems, unfortunately I can’t see anything specific. After the first V2 tank had led to 6 weeks of good printing results, these began to deteriorate gradually with increasing errors. Then I replaced the tank and have not stopped since. Whether there was an update of Preform or the firmware at that time, I can no longer determine. Since then, there have already been a number of updates for both.
Apart from that, I haven’t changed anything about the type of files. They are all slightly different and a bit complicated to print, but comparable to the successfully created ones.
I will be happy to attach a sample file later. I am very curious to see how things will progress.

Another few ideas;

Have you tried to reprint the files that used to print successfully? Comparable isn’t identical.

You need to get a solid baseline with an absolute minimum of variables. Rewind to what succeeded in the past, and go from there.

A sudden deterioration points to the lasers. Are you sure they’re giving the proper output?

Print the optical test files if you haven’t already. These yield a lot of information independant of your own work. FL should send you them if they haven’t already. I have them, if FL is closed and you want to get started. Lemme know.

This back to basics step by step forensics is a time suck, and you have my sympathies. But it’ll get you where you need to go.



Hey Rob, yes, I have tried to reprint files that have already been printed successfully. Interestingly, when I reopen them, Preform now shows them as having failed the printability analysis. The files would now need significantly more supports. (In an older version of Preform they were shown as printable exactly like this). Even if I then increase the number of supports significantly (mostly using the automated option) compared to the previously successfully printed version, the result is a failed print…

On my Insta you can see some of the past progres of the projekt and how it would be augmented with media, which explains why I can only use the white resin.

https://www.instagram.com/steharde/

Very nice work! And a lot of work, to boot.

HMMMM!

Can you get a previous version of PF and reprint those files?

Grasping at straws, 2022 edition. Can you try using Rigid? It has a beautiful finish, and in my experience, prints well.

It’s more expensive, fer shur, but it’s fine stuff, and might tell us something if it prints.

It has glass fibers in it so it’s very stable. It’s also somewhat brittle, so dropping a print will likely result in breakage. Other than that, It’s really strong, and the prettiest of all resins.

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What I read about the riggid resin sounds very good so far.
In terms of cost, it would be a pain for the amount I would need, but better than having invested everything else for nothing. However, it is not officially offered as compatible with the Form 3L!?!

Rigid works perfectly fine on the 3L. Actually I’ve been using nothing but Rigid 4000 on the 3L for over 6 months now and with amazingly perfect results every single time.

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Rigid4k is fully supported with the 3L. Rigid10k is available but only in beta. And very expensive: 50% more than 4k.

I’d start with 4k, fer shur.

Hey Rob, it took a while. But in the meantime, I have actually made several printing attempts with Rigid 4000. The files used were exactly the same as before with White V4. Of course, they were prepared under the new material settings in Preform. Every print was a flawless result! Since I can’t reprogram the tank between Rigid 4000 and White V4, there is still a chance that it could be the new tank. However, I doubt this, but believe that the much more stable property of the resin prevents delamination. Now, however, I have a painfully higher cost. Not only for the resin, but also due to the significantly shortened lifetime of the tanks under Rigid 4000…
The joy, after almost 3 months with one misprint after the other, outweighs nevertheless. Many thanks for the recommendation!!!

Now I have a new problem. I almost can’t get the prints off the build plate. The build plate is quite new and in very good condition. It is also meticulously cleaned after each print. I have already read a lot here in the forum. Recomendations like using sandpaper and loosen the print as soon as possible after completion. The timing actually seems to have a somewhat positive effect, but of course it is not always possible for me. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Good on having that working with Rigid 4000.
Luckily for me it’s the resin I use the most so all prints on the 3L come out superb. In the past two weeks, for example, I completed over 50 prints using 10 litters of Rigid 4000 and not a single glitch.

The removal from the platform should be quite easy (unless something is wrong).
Depending on the raft / directly printed part’s geometry and overall solidity there’s only two things I do and the prints almost pop out:

  • If the part is printed directly on the build platform and there’s no thin walls (that could break) near the base OR if there’s a raft with lots of supports (to add volume), I nitpick a corner with a plier (the supplied one or similar) and that usually pops it out. Sometimes the first corner breaks so I move on to the next one.

  • For any kind of print (directly on the platform or using rafts), using the Japanese scrapper they provided with the 3L you can simple lay it flat on the build platform and gently (I mean very gently) wiggle it around the base (corners work better but, while harder, the sides of the raft also work) after making contact with the raft / part and, once you get a bit under the raft you can then slowly and gently push in it in all directions (one direction at the time) while still wiggling the scrapper .

While our primary instincts tell us to use force, we’re dealing with vacuum between the raft and the platform which means that the harder you try, the more force you apply, which makes it either very hard to remove or may break which then leaves you with lots of work. A hammer and a chisel would get the work done but it would ruin the platform, get you more tired and waste more time.

Another thing that I came to understand is that the more resin you have in the unprinted areas of the build platform that surround the raft / part, the better to go underneath it. If I let the build platform drip the excess resin it’s harder to remove the part. If you bathe the platform with the part still in it in IPA it will be even worst and you’d then have to apply force.

Lastly, don’t clean the platform with every print unless you’re using a different resin. Just remove the debris (if any) because you get a good amount of resin in the platform after a print (assuming the “don’t let it drip” tip above) which will still be good for a new print. But yeah, I did that at first as well.

I agree with EKS, mostly. I’ve turned to using a long handled razor blade scraper, rather than the provided tool. After wiggling the base for a bit, I use a fair amount of velocity to ram the thin blade under the platform.

The minimal contact area concetrates the force, and the print (or most of it) pops off. If the whole thing doesn’t pop off, just pick an area where you can accelerate the tool into the base, and repeat.

I no longer sand the platform, but I do clean it with IPA since there always seems to be some residue attached to the plate after the print pops off. Workflow is to pop the print, use the razor blade to scrape off the remaining liquid resin, then a paper towel with IPA until the paper is clean.

I’m so happy for you that you’ve been able to get work out the door. And I agree that the tank’s abysmal lifetime is a problem. I’m spending $100 per print on tanks!

Just seeing this thread and appreciate your thoughts. We have had our 3L for 1 year and have had most of the issues listed here. Our primary resin is standard white and our print success rate is terrible. We have been through multiple tank iterations and it finally seems that the tanks are working. The main issue at the moment is that the supports have moved from being far too light to being extremely heavy. At the moment we have great difficulty removing supports without damaging the print. The density and touch-point size seem way too high. My team has wasted a ton of time and a lot of resin but we end up chasing our tail as it seems once we have a combination that works Form changes the firmware and we are starting over.

Very frustrated at this point. Sadly we love our fleet of Form 3 printers but the Form 3L experience has been terrible. Customer support has been good but I feel like we are simply debugging issues for Formlabs. In my opinion the Form3L was not ready for commercial release. We are considering getting rid of our 3L as it has not only been near useless at generating successful prints but my team has wasted tons of time trying to make it work.

I might try some Rigid 4000 as it seems like you have all had better success with this resin over standard white.

Hey, I just read the post. In fact, I’ve had almost no misprints since using Rigid 4000. However, the project costs have risen enormously as a result. Not only because the resin is much more expensive, but also because the tanks only last 250 hours because of the resin…
In addition, a Rigid 4000 print is very difficult to remove from the platform and requires a lot of workaround. But! It works!!

Update on my post. We have completed several successful prints using Rigid 4k on our Form3L which had previously failed when attempting to print in standard white. The difference is amazing. Not one failure in 4K so far. I will update if things change but at the moment we are simply going to use Rigid 4K as our “standard” white resin. It does cost a bit more but we can manage as long as print success continues to be high.

Thanks for posting the tip as I feel like we finally have a usable piece of prototyping equipment.

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