One success out of eight?

I am a 3D supervisor for a company that 3D prints hero props for the film industry. Thor 2 - Skyfall - Guardians of the Universe etc… so, you would think that I would have an OK understanding of various print processes?

I purchased my Form1 Plus and printed a small crystal skull. This was a success and I was over the moon!
Since then, I have had NOTHING but failure after failure!

The excuses I hear all of the time for Form 1 failures - I have checked off…

  1. Resin not mixed. (My resin was placed on a slow tumbler for 2 hours. No bubbles. Tried clear and grey).
  2. Laser check. (Paper placed - small dot from laser - no square)
  3. It’s the mirrors! (Mirrors checked with light - no smears or dust).
  4. Faulty tray? (Tray is new after I blamed the last one).
  5. Placement of print or orientation?? (I let Preform orientate as it knows best. I check supports for islands. I have tried near the hinge side - pointing towards…pointing away).

Prints at the beginning were intact at the start and then turned to jelly in the final stages or had huge bits missing. supports would print to a height and then just stop before the models surface. The last two prints don’t even resemble the model.
No matter what I try or what I print, it all seems to fail. I wasted a £150 new bottle of resin over the weekend and damaged a new £60 print tray. Do I cut my losses and drop the Form1 Plus?

I am at a loss…

Regards, Jet

I think you should get in contact with the support team, they are really good to find out the problem. If they can’t resolve it, your form1 will be replace, so don’t need to drop it :wink:

From what i see, the problem are from the mirros.

But before doing anything you could check few things :

  • Do you have a thin layer of cured resin all around the base or in some spots ?
    Normally the edge of the base should be sharp.

  • From pictures you took,supports structure have the mushroom effect too. That’s mean the problem appear before the mesh begin to be cured.
    So it’s not the model, orient it otherwise won’t change anything.

  • I think it’s certainly not the resin tank and if you have checked the laser, it’s not him either.

You should check where the mushroom effect appear in your failed prints ( look at the supports structures) . If it’s all over or only in one side, or in one area.

If you already tried to put your model in different positions in the build area, it’s not the big mirror BUT it think it the small one or galvos.

If you already check them from smudges or dusts it’s certainly due to a crack. If you don’t have it, ask formlabs team for the procedure to clean and inspect galvo and small mirrors. ( you have to open the printer and remove the block where the small mirrors and galvos are, to really inspect it correctly ).
If you did not do that to clean them, it’s certainly smudges and that may be enough to have successful prints again

Amazing looking models! Don’t give up!

Check these two things, they will give random bad models:

  1. when you lock the Build Platform in place, try rotating it (in the X-Y plane). It should not move at all. If it has even the slightest movement, it will drift around when the model is peeled each time. There is a small flat-bladed screw at the base of the Build Platform lock handle. You can tighten the locking function by rotating this screw (small increments!) clockwise.

  2. check the Resin Tank for movement: when the resin tank is fully in place, see if you can rock it left/right/fore/aft, as well as rotating in the X-Y plane. Obviously, since there are spring clips that hold it in place (four places), if you put enough force on it there will be movement. But, if you just put a small amount of force on it in each direction, does it seem stable? I have seen Resin Tanks easily move about because the four spring clips that should be holding it stationary aren’t engaging correctly. If the Resin Tank is free to move about, it will move during the peel process. The Resin Tank movement is a lot less critical than the Build Platform movement, but it still needs to be relatively stationary.

I agree with Gilles, It’s the mirrors. You see all those skins hanging off your last model? The laser does not even go out there, it’s caused by the laser acting as a flashlight. The light pollution starts to cure the resin on the bottom of the tank beyond the model. When it reaches “solid” status it attaches to the current layer and becomes part of the model. The other picture with the explosion in the middle is the same problem. The laser is not concentrated enough. I said ‘laser’ a lot, but if this is a Form1+, don’t blame the emitter. It is probably the galvos or mirrors as Gilles said. Your laser spot test needs to be excellent for these machines to work, OK does not cut it.

@Jet_Cooper, @Gillesalexandre has some great advice — but you should certainly get in touch w/ our support team ASAP. There’s no reason for you to be beating your head against the wall. They’re fantastic and will work with you to get where you need to be.

It sounds like you’ve gone through most of the basic troubleshooting steps, but it’s always worth taking another look. Checking the mirrors for dust and smudges can be tricky — this article details the process, but you’ll want to speak directly with support about mirror cleaning itself. It can be tricky.

And of course, if there’s something amiss with your machine, it’s covered under our warranty, and we’ll arrange a replacement.

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P.S. another thing: use a conical paint strainer (as used in the automotive painting industry) to filter the entire batch of used resin. You won’t believe how many little pieces of cured resin will be caught. Those little cured pieces will cause havoc with support structures, etc. You can find the filters on Amazon or any automotive paint supply shop.

I’m sure you are scraping your silicone layer in between prints. That is important as you need a “virgin” surface there each time.

Hi Jet,

Sorry you are having trouble with the printer. Might I ask what support settings you are using? In addition to the concerns others have raised (bad tank, dirty mirrors, etc), supports play a huge part is the success and failure of prints. Judging from some of the screenshots it looks like your part maybe over supported which can cause a number of issues.

Hi guys, Thanks for all of your advice.

Clark, I am using all of the default settings when generating supports - what do you suggest?

I will look at the Galvo’s as a last resort - seems uncomfortable taking a new machine to pieces.

Regards, Jet

Hi Jet,

These are amazing looking models!

Don’t give up - there are two things I’d really advise.

First, as SamJ said above, contact our support team - they’ll determine if your printer had a problem almost out of the box.

Second, be sure to meticulously clean and inspect your resin tank (and checking the tank with the scraping tool) before every print. Here’s some instructions (they pop up on the dashboard of PreForm before you confirm your print).

Some personal thoughts:

Inspecting your first model, it looks like it was composed of lots of intricate components that would benefit from being printed separately (instead of in an assembly, where you need lots of supports). Your second model has lots and lots of ragged layers - which looks like there was something floating in your resin tank.

Also, it’s important to make sure that there’s room for resin circulation in your supports - they look fairly dense, which could be causing hindrance of flow as you build layer upon layer.

Good luck, and great models!

Hmmm. I would drop the density slider as much as possible, turn up the touch point size slightly (maybe .5?) and then in the advanced drop down menu for settings increase the flat spacing somewhere between 5.5 and 7. Also, I would turn off internal supports and use the manual supports to address any problem areas.

Play around with different combinations of density/touch point size/ and flat spacing to see the difference each one makes. If you have too many supports, not only are you using superfluous resin , but they act like a filter, trapping small cured bits of resin which can lead to explosions and other print failures.

Now if there is an issue with the mirrors this won’t be of much help, but it will increase the chance of a successful print and save you resin.


Thanks Again guys,

I was excited to try Clark’s settings last night. I got home and emptied the new resin tray only to find that it is clouded after the weekend of failed printing.

I’m also worried about ordering another bottle of grey resin as the European supplier for formlabs is still flogging off the Version 1 resin. (The one I just bought and wasted on the weekend was still version 1 stock).

One weekend wasted £205 = $324.73 USD. That’s a lot of money with nothing to show for it when you have a family and new baby guys…

Guess I will have to wait a while.

Great support from the users…

Jet 8 )

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