Since Formlabs has seen it fit to completely abandon the Form 1/1+ and no longer make any supplies available, those of us who believe the Form 1 is still a good usable printer, and don’t think we should trash it just becaause FormLabs thinks we should, we need to find alternative consumables for our printers.
We already have a quite a few options for 3rd party resins (I myself use the ApplyLabWorks resins), and there are a few alternatives when it comes to the resin tank/vat.
So far we’ve had the ZVat, with a glass bottom, which some folks like, but other don’t, and then there is the FlexVat for those that want to go a different route and use FEP instead of PDMS.
Other, like myself have been recoating the original Formlabs tanks, but frankly there’s only so many times you can do tha before you eventually need to replace the tank.
So what about alternative tanks that are compatible with the Form 1? On AliExpress and even on eBay you can find many Chinese companies that sell Form 1+ “compatible” tanks, but the build quality and fit are questionable. Moreover, the prices are pretty high, considering they’re knock-offs of a $60 vat, and they’re asking nearly the same price.
Enter Peopoly. A company that manufactures the Moai, an SLA printer similar to the form 1+. The Moai trays are in fact almost identical to the Form 1+ trays and fit the Form 1 printer just fine. These vats sell for only $35, and shipping from Hong Kong is actually cheaper than what FormLabs used to charge to ship from within the US.
A week ago, I placed an order for 2 of these tanks, and they arrived today. The build quality is excellent. The tray are made of clear acrylic, and the PDMS layer is flawless. The trays slide into the printer without any problems, but there is a tiny bit of side-to side movement, due to the differences between the 2 printers. I found that a a couple folded business cards can be wedged between the right side of the tank and the frame, and that removes all possible play.
And now for the real issue. With the build platform set at normal height, there is about 3mm gap between the surface of the PDMS and the bottom surface of the build platform. The amount of adjustment available in PreForm is only 1mm in either direction, so that won’t work.
Since I already have another build platform, the simplest thing for me is to add a 3mm shim between the plastic frame of the build platform and the aluminum plate. the screws that hold the plate in place are long enough to allow for this. There are other options to be sure, including making the platform height adjustable with spring-loaded screws.
I’ll post more information once I decide which direction to go.