Open heart advice - Tough business decision


#1

Hi guys,
I’d like to ask you a really open heart advice and suggestion on a tough decision we’re going to make.

Basically we bought a Form 2 in mid 2016 and since then we it used sporadically. We are a duo design studio with core business on cgi mainly, so prototyping is a really occasional, making some bottle models or packaging props. Really few a month or even none, with also long periods of inactivity (months).

For this reason we got recently the resin dispensing system clogged, but luckily we’ve been able to open it up, clean the little arm and motor and pull back in the machine. Surprisingly working again.
BUT, soon after the print starts, the form 2 shut down and restarted. Reset while printing problem.

We contacted the support and they suggested the galvos cabling repositioning, reset, etc. which nothing didn’t work.
So now, at the end, we have two options: spend €799 to get a repair with 90 days of warranty or a deal with a Form 3 at €3299 with one year PSP included.

What would you do if you were in our shoes?

Honestly I’d go with the repair because, as said above, we don’t use it too much and prototyping is not our core business. So, while we could easily pay €3299, i don’t see it too justifiable, while being the most safe and secure option of the two.
Unless we try to push and sell more this service along our cgi animation and visualisation business. Which didn’t happen in all these years with form 2 because too busy with cgi to spend time on it and that’s why we are at this point.

On the other side, I know the form 2 going to be dead in 2023 (which is fine for us) but I’m scared as hell that after those 3 months, if another issue come out (and we know our “reliable” is the printer) we threw €800 and that’s it.
If runs ok, would be great as it could push us to try and do more mock-ups for clients before establishing a more solid business and jump later on form 3/4.

So what to do?

Don’t know what to do and who to talk to, a bit frustrating situation.
Thanks a lot guys for any suggestion, help and idea you could share.


#2

If you print that sporadically, it’s probably better to just outsource it to someone else and take away all the hassle of expiring consumables, maintenance and cleaning.


#3

One of the big problems with the Form 3 is the requirement to empty the print tanks if you don’t print for a long time.
In your case you will end up with tanks expiring while sitting on storage if you don’t empty the resin out of them.
The Form 2 does not have this problem.
We keep a park of 16 tanks fully loaded, ready to use at all times. Some tanks seat for months without being used ( because some resins like black and other regular resins do not offer objects that stable enough in time, we cannot offer this to our customer and use these only on special request ).
I would highly recommend you to keep your workhorse and carry on using it until the support ends.

By the way, if you think the Form 2 is not reliable, you might think twice before going to the Form 3. Look at the ratio Form 3 complaints vs Form 2 complaints on this forum…


#4

Hi guys,
thanks for the reply.
Indeed I agree with you considering the actual usage.
We could fix our form 2 and carry on with that until it dies, while outsourcing big parts to other companies.

If goes good, we might think passing to something more solid like a projet or similar. If some of their offerings stays sub €10.000.
Our main prints are transparent hollow bottle, so I think the print build size will suits better than Formlabs.
Or do you know any other brand/printer that is solid, reliable and just works for this purpose, similar to the projet?

Btw, the only issue here is that Formlabs gives 90 days of warranty after the repair, so the “carry on until the support ends” Oliver said, it will be for three months or luckily enough when the form 2 going to have another issue.
Then or need to spend another €800 or throw in the bin.

How does it sounds?


#5

Practically speaking, Formlabs is doing a good job on swapping printers. We have had good luck with this service.


#6

We do CG for shows - Live action and CG mixed.

If your form 2 is pooped dont bother with the form 3. There are 4K resin printers that do 0.3 micron layers - the printer costs as much as 2 liters of form labs resin.

Form3 low force and quick release supports is not all it cracked up to be and the layer line problems at smaller layer sizes that plague the form3 is still BAD and not going away soon.

Most form2 users say they wished they stuck with form2 and hadnt “upgraded” - unfortunately form2 parts and technical support is going to be stopped soon. They gave a date but I cant recall when.

If you dont use your printer often then outsourcing is good - the form 3 experience will leave you poor and bald.


#7

I would parrot what others are saying here. If you are not printing constantly, the Form 3 has a high consumable expense compared to the Form 2. If your parts will fit into the build space of other 4K DLP printers, and your material properties are not too demanding (i.e., no functional prototype parts), a less expensive DLP printer would be my recommendation. Check out the ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X for example.


#8

Agreed, this doesn’t make sense.

It is a lot of capital that you probably could better invest in a high-quality large format colour printer from what I’m reading.

Why all the hassle when you can just design in Fusion360; paid version would be an advantage for collaboration, and send the file to your favourite 3D-print shop.

My 2cts …


#9

OP: we don’t run our Form 2 to justify the cost… let’s upgrade to something 3X the cost!

A projet would be a huge mistake. From what I hear they have to be run weekly. Also the cost of the service contract alone would be more than a Form 3.

Sounds like you just want a 3D printer. Stop flushing money down the toilet. Buy an MSLA printer with a large bed. Personally I would go with monochrome LCD, but that’s a cost premium. Also any MSLA resin is going to be far cheaper than Formlabs, so even if the resin goes bad you buy a new batch and start over.

Outsourcing and getting SLS/MJF parts is a very good alternative option. Only reason not to do this is if turn around time is an issue.