One step up at least 2 steps back

One week into ownership and very limited time to fiddle it with because of Thanksgiving leaves me a bit frustrated. As previously mentioned my first 2 attempts last week were pretty bad. I think I know some of what happened now. Last week a part of material cured in the center of the tank because I ignored the “angle everything” rule which had been very contrary to my 8 years of previous paid for only commercial SLA printing… The cured material came out really easily.

I was having a time figuring out how to angle the item for printing. I was struggling with the advanced settings waiting for it to move, but that is not where to do it. I figured out late this afternoon how to angle the item first then the supports will build to the item. It could have been better explained in the supports area. That was the one step up part.

Now (today) I saw I should have mixed the resin before filling the tank - which is twice now. Probably not a good thing since I dumped the tank once already. I don’t much want to dump it again.

Today after figuring out the item tilt, I got NOTHING. Again a small patch of material cured in the center of the tank then blocking all further building - also twice. It was very loosely in the tank - not attached to the plate and again came out easily.

Is that part of the tank now ruined? I am sure I did not get aggressive in removing the cured material,

My next move to finally get a good item is to switch to a new tank and the castable material.

So what about the tank filled with what is not mixed resin? Is that now trash again? I might be at 1/2 a bottle of gray consumed without a good part to show for it.

Should I “roll” mix the resin bottle or shake it? I would think that would give you air bubbles. If I shake mix the resin do I let the just filled tank sit overnight before printing?

I have cleaned the aluminum build plate off with the alcohol after a build - now hoping that was not a bad move. Did that make the latest build not stick to it?

Sorry - lots of questions, but I really want to make good parts next weekend. The following weekend is our party here. I want to “put on a show” like I know what I am doing! (:->)


Everyone so far has settled on straining their resin through a paint strainer so you shouldn’t have to throw any resin away unless it became contaminated with IPA or something along those lines.
The scraper with gentle but firm pressure and pushing and dragging you should be able to clear any stuck failed prints.
I do clean my build platform with IPA but make sure it is dry and clean before you use it. IPA will kill a tank of resin. Shaking and bubbles etc. should not hurt a print since the build platform squishes that all out but I rarely have bubbles since I strain my resin between prints and slowly pour it back in the tank.

I just posted this under Support and Troubleshooting because someone has similar issues that I did when I started.

Few things in general,
Longest supports should be on the Hinge Side.
Drain and filter your resin between prints
Check for dust on mirrors
Make sure PDMS is clear (no clouding) If there is clouding use the supplied scraper to try to clear it. Usually gentle but firm forward and back will clear the settled pigments from the resin.
Don’t continually print in the same spot.
Scroll through your model layers and make sure there are No parts of the model starting in limbo and that there are No hollows in solid walls that may trap raw resin since they can cause blowouts.
Lastly make sure the build platform does not have any play in it (small screw on top you can turn 1/8 rotation at a time to snug it so the clamp noticeably clamps down).
Do check the Resin Tank for play but I am not sure on how to adjust or tighten that if it is loose, I would ask someone at Formlabs on that.

Thanks for the reply. You bring up another point though. The file is placed in the center of the tank all the time. How do I move the print to another part of the tank if I am only making 1 item?

I can see I will have a supply of tanks on hand… I will have to strain the material between tanks with every print.

This is all not for the faint of heart. The average “Tchotchke” printing Thingyverse person is not going to muscle through this learning curve. But I am in it because I design my own items, and going full on professional printing as I have been doing for 8 years have just gotten obscenely expensive. Believe it or not buying the machine and feeding it resin and tanks will likely still be cheaper if I can use it often enough.

Hey Bill,

If you follow KenCitron’s advice, prints should come out fine. When reading your original post, it seems you haven’t yet read the support page:

This page will help you on your way getting your first succesful print. It mentions things such as mixing the resin and how the Preform sofware works.
I noticed Ken forgot to answer one of your quetsions which was So what about the tank filled with what is not mixed resin? Is that now trash again?. Not to worry. You can mix the resin in the tank by gently moving your scraper up and down. Don’t push the scraper blade forward though, because it might damage the PDMS layer with the sharp edge, so always use a “backwards stroke”. And make sure you don’t let the resin flow over the sides of the tank while mixing it! You have to mix the resin before each print and after mixing, it will stay mixed for +/- 10 hours. The movement of the peel and build platform help the resin staying mixed during a print longer than 10h. In other words, you don’t have to wait overnight and print the next morning. You can start printing as soon as you’ve mixed the resin, your build platform is clean and your print is uploaded to the printer.

To answer your question in your last post. You can move the print to a different spot on the buildplatform using the “layout” button. This will help you use every spot of the build platform equally. In case your print is very big and uses up most space of the build platform you are stuck with the position it is in.

Ensure to have the longest supports near the hinge side. In case you’ve already rendered supports and it’s faced the wrong way round, Go to the “orientation” mode and press the lock-button. This way you rotate the Z axis while leaving the X and Y intact and therefore the supports will stay in place in stead of the program deleting them.

I must say, I don’t strain material between prints. I do use the scraper and a comb to find tiny pieces of cured resin and take them out of the tank with the tweezers. Straining the resin is of course recommended!

Another tip I can give you is to print large parts at .1 or max .05 Only print in .025 if it is really needed for the part, or you’re printing miniatures. The higher the resolution, the more reason it your print could fail during the peel, as it has to do the peel motion up to 4 times as much compared to printing at .1

Making sure the buildplatform cannot move is essential for get a good print. Otherwise your prints could fail dramatically. The lever of the build platform must have some pressure at the last stage of clamping it on. Otherwise you might have to tighten it a little!

When cleaning your large mirror, use PEC-PADS and IPA, and don’t use compressed air. Using compressed air will blow the dust particles towards the laser and galvo mirrors. If these are dirty, you’ll be sure to get failed prints.

If you want, you can also check if your laser is working properly by following these steps which were originally posted by @MikePhillips

  1. Remove the build platform and then the resin tray.
  2. Cut a piece of white paper the size of about 7 x 7 1/2 inches. Put it over the hole where the tray was. Close the lid.
  3. Open a Command Prompt. On Win7, click on the Start button, and type “cmd” in the “Search Files and Programs” field at the bottom of the Start menu
  4. In the open command prompt window (it will be a black background with grey text stating “C:” type the following command, INCLUDING the "'s:
    “program files (x86)”\formlabs\preform\preform -diagnostic
    When you hit Enter/Return, PreForm will automatically open with an additional Diagnostic drop-down option in the menu bar. You can click “Apply” or Exit the Print Setup window.
    From the Diagnostic option in the menu bar, select “Laser Spot Test” and follow the instructions by covering the tank area with the piece of paper if you haven’t already done that and close the lid.
    The laser should turn on for about 10 seconds. Take a picture.
    After the test is complete, just turn the Form 1 off and on again to return to normal operation.*

In case your CMD window opens in a different directory than C:, type in the command: *cd C:*

Good luck

Sorry to mention I polished the scraper so it doesn’t have any sharp edges or corners. For me this was a big improvement on the scraper since I was skeptical about using the stock blade because the edge seemed too sharp and wasn’t all that smooth.

Stock blade would certainly damage the pdms if pushes or if the corners were pressed down.


Thanks for the reply at length. Trust me I read the supports page. But I am by far a SHOW me guy. Sorry. . Formlabs has those short repeating video clips. Videos not webpages for these things. That is what I need. So I am still not sure what advance support settings do. A video would be great.