On going Disasters with my FormLabs Form 2

good afternoon , morning or night to whom ever finds this helpful. I am an owner if a business that specializes in creating peoples ideas and dreams. my business employs several people local an abroad and we team up to scan design and develop products for people in small volume. We opened a 3d printing wing of our business in order to give people prototypes or just to remake parts and components for hobbyists and shops. We purchases a form 2 3d printer for our new department as reviews raved and praised its print quality an accuracy . we received our printer and did several prints without issue using the clear resin. those prints came out as expected . we began to slowly fuse our printer into our costumer job portfolio and began to see some nice results. we had approximately 15 or so small volume prints (clips, small gears , extra) that came out successful. We were getting pretty familiar with the printer after these successes and begun to scale up the prints , then the problems began. The first set of issues we noticed were that the prints lost resolution . As we scaled up our prints the details like holes and passage ways were missing all together and the bottom side of the printed object ( where the supports met the object) was completely distorted. Once we began to notice these issues were bought a set of trays and started to filter our resin before all prints. These protocols did not have any major success on our print the only notable affects were found in clarity of the part . After this setback we moved on purchased a set of post processing tolls to drill, engrave or polish out these defects. We then purchased tough resin as one of our customers needed a particular composition for a part they needed remade . This unknowing would bring about the worst set of failed prints we had ever seen. The first set of small prints per-usual came out very nicely thus sowing our confidence but scaling up was just a disaster. Our print began to burn onto the trays, completely failing all together braking into chunks would float in the trays jamming the arm while we were away . Reorienting the parts , slicing the parts or adding ventilation holes did nothing. We than began to move the z-axis around to find a spot that would yield a better result but all that came of this was a hard to remove build raft. we had to remove the tough resin from our inventory and it stayed out of our line up because there was no fix to our issue. recently we took one a task where we had a customer come in for a 3d scan of their child and wanted a model of their child 3d printed. we scanned the child and had a model made ready for print. the only constrain on the project was that the subjects face be cleared of any build supports. The made it so that our options of orientation were bottom a 30 degrees left or right of the back. a new tray was , the resin was filtered and the subject was placed on the build platform. The printer was set with a new tray , clear resin (20190911 )as sent to be by form labs. This print failed filed twice burning the tray each time. The first time it failed i cleaned the tray and filtered the resin finding the same flake like always. The second time it failed in a new a quite interesting way. The second time it failed it not only burned the tray but emptied a 150$ cartage into the printer. I left the printer to work over night and when i came into the office i noticed a error message about a stuck/empty cartage . as soon as i opened the U.V cover i noticed the bottom of the lid was dripping with resin and there was resin pooling all around the black base. The resin ad fan out of the printer and on to the table and is completely under the printer. This has been an absolute nightmare, i have prints due before Christmas a printer that is filled with resin. continues failed prints and no remedy in sight. I need answers, we can not continue constantly adapting to a with a failing printer and disappointing prints. https://photos.app.goo.gl/htTuojM7rcgEZ39YA

So the issues you’re seeing on the larger prints are something that happens with SLA printers. You can’t prevent the light source (laser) from curing extra material beyond the current layer, meaning that any downward facing surfaces aren’t going to be as detailed and there can be extra cured resin in the corners and where supports meet the print due to that effect (also the resin likes to stick into the corners which makes those areas more sensitive to this effect)

The way to avoid that is with careful planning to orient the part so that important details are oriented upwards more and that you avoid putting supports on areas you can’t sand smooth easily afterwards. In some cases, this requires you to split the print up into multiple pieces so that you can orient those pieces more ideally.

From the photos I can see you have those long straight pieces and they seem to be oriented parallel to the platform which is something you want to avoid. To switch between printing layers the printer has to do something to pull the print off the bottom of the tray, the bottom has a non-stick coating but there’s still suction that prevents the print from lifting up easily so in the case of the Form2 it slides the tray while lifting up. This method still puts some damaging force on the print and when you have portions of a layer that aren’t supported then they can be more easily damaged. In the cases of long flat surfaces that are parallel to the platform it means there’s large parts of that surface that aren’t supported and it will turn out badly. To avoid it you want to tilt the print at an angle so that it starts at a small point and then the next layers are only a little bit bigger than the previous layers. The print will take longer but you’ll get better results.
But also remember that orientation can be done so that supports are attached onto areas that are easier to sand afterwards.

Orientation and stuff like that is only part of things though, it’s possible that you may have dust in the printer that was causing problems (the Form2 is supposed to be more dust resistant but sometimes people still get dust inside there). If there’s a dust issue, Formlabs can share some instructions on how to clean the mirrors.

I haven’t used Tough before but I’ve heard a lot of issues with it, so that’s its own problem
As far as the resin spill goes, that’s probably ruined the printer, you’ll need to contact Formlabs about that. I’m assuming the issue is the valve on the resin cartridge, there’s been cases where the valve falls off or stays open and empties the resin into the tray and overflows into the printer, if that’s the case then they should be able to take care of that for you.

Zachary is spot-on about model orientation. You almost never want to have flat surfaces parallel to the surface of the vat.

Aside from that, every time I have encountered print quality issues, it has been remedied by cleaning the entire optical path. Galvos, mirror, glass (two surfaces). The procedure specified by Formlabs is unfortunately quite difficult to do, involving disassembly of the case of the machine and unplugging PC board connectors which are quite difficult to reach and release. Instead, I remove the top glass entirely and keep it out. That’s two less optical surfaces to cause problems. Clean the angled mirror by simply removing the vat and reaching down inside the cavity with IPA wetted pec-pads or Zeiss lens wipes. Then I use some special tiny camera sensor-cleaning swabs I found on eBay to clean the galvo mirrors. Just a drop of isopropyl on the tip of the disposable swab and a few wipes later the optical path is clear.

Another thing most people don’t think about is that the surface of the vat itself is part of the optical path. So be sure to clean the bottom side with a microfiber cloth with some Novus 1 polish. The top side I use a plastic squeege over the transparent vat surface before every print to squeege the surface clean and mix up the resin.

To minimize the potential for resin spills into the open cavity, I only print in OPEN mode, and NEVER place a cartridge in the slot behind the machine. That wiper has ruined more printers I suspect, when some failed print sticks to the surface of the vat and the wiper comes along and SLING! Slingshots resin out of the tank and into the innards. The rubber bite valves are also notorious for failing, and when that happens, a liter of resin finds its way into the innards of your machine. Not good.

You have a big job ahead to clean the machine of resin. You must disassemble the whole machine and soak the affected components in IPA. If you fail to get all the resin out, you will be haunted by resin fumes depositing themselves on the mirrors in the optical path. (Voice of experience here). I once had a tough V2 resin spill in my first Form 2. But dogged determination finally got all the stuff out. I had to remove all the circuitry and soak everything in IPA. Not fun I can assure you. But that printer now is working fine. It can be done.

Good luck!

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