PreForm and Form 3 print time calculation way off

I have been a Formlabs user for several years now and use the Form 2 and Form 3 almost daily. I have really been through a lot with the Form 2 - problems with the tank, firmware, bad prints or dust on the galvanometers. It took a lot of my time but Formlabs eventually got it right and the results are really good and the Form 2 runs consistently. I start a print that is supposed to print for 4 hours and usually after 4 - 4.5 hours I get the email that the print is complete! Bravo!

Now we turn to the Form 3 printer:
I have had some problems with this printer as well - tank leaking, bad prints due to a bad tank V1 and V2. Startup problems is what I would call it - we were one of the first buyers!

Nevertheless, I can not understand that the Form 3 still can not reasonably calculate and display the remaining time of a print.

A quick example from my day today:

  • Print sent from PreForm to the Form 3.
  • Estimated print time: 3:30h. Material: Rigid 10K / Tank: V2.1 (New)
  • 300-400ml filled from the cartridge into the new tank so that the tank is filled faster! Otherwise it would all take much longer!
  • 3D printing started.
  • First the mix temperature of 31°C must be reached before anything happens in the Form 3.
  • After more than an hour, the temperature was reached and the printer had to fill more resin into the tank. That also took another 30-45min.
    I thought to myself. OK - It is just a new tank and then it takes a little longer at the beginning.
  • After the tank was filled, a message appears on the display that the temperature must be heated to 33°C to start the print.
  • It takes another 30-45min! But now it can start!
  • But unfortunately not yet! Now the display jumps to 34°C which has to be reached to start the 3D printing! Really now? Why first 33° and now 34°C?
  • The printer is located in a normal office next to my Form 2 and it takes again over 45min. until the desired temperature is reached! But now it finally starts!
  • The first layer should be printed now! Once again the printer does NOTHING. The build platform does not lower itself into the tank. Why? What is the printer still missing? Again 2min. later it finally starts!
  • The display jumps over and shows a remaining time of 22min! You’re kidding, right? Not even one layer is printed and the Form 3 thinks 22min. would be the remaining time?
  • But the worst thing is that the printing, which was calculated with 3:30h, always takes more time. Even if the tank is filled, everything is heated up and the print could start directly, the Form 3 needs longer time! Why?

@Formlabs: I would rather see 5 hours of printing time in PreForm and at the printer and the print is completed after 4.5 hours than to see 3 hours of printing time in PreForm and at the printer and then the print takes 5 hours in reality! Please revise your firmware in the printer and the calculated time in PreForm!

The print estimates from Preform do not include the time it takes to preheat and fill the tank. But the dashboard starts counting down when the print starts. So if you have a 3 hour job according to Preform, and it takes 2 hours to heat and fill, when the printer finally starts the first layer, Dashboard will update to say that the print has 1 hour left to complete when really, it has 3 hours still.

I’ve harped on this a bunch, as have others, with no response from FL one way or the other. It’d be an easy fix, but FL does not seem inclined to make the effort. :frowning:

Also, the printer’s heater is arguably too-low a wattage. My printer lives in a basement workshop that gets down to the low 60s in the winter time. At that ambient, the printer is incapable of reaching the target printing temperature. To solve the problem, I “tented” my printer with the big plastic bag it came in. With that slipped down over the top and bunch up at the bottom so the printer can’t really draw outside air in, the printer heats up much faster.

  1. My Form3 is off for service as it stopped heating. Also one of the first printers at 2yr old. First major issue I have had to be honest. It shouldn’t take that long so contact support.

  2. Agree on the timing. Its the same with the 3L. Last update promised improvements but it’s similar. The minutes left on the display don;t run as fast as those on the clock. Also clueless why it’s so difficult to estimate. Last print I timed a layer at ~30seconds. With 100 Layers left thats easily 50 min even though I understand not all layers are the same. Printer said 17min left. Eventually print finished 60min later. Print time is important for cost estimation, should have more priority at FLs.

Dashboard should be able to detect when the printer is heating and when the printer is filling. It definitely detects when these operations fail. If it simply said “Heating” when heating, and “Filling” when filling, and didn’t start the print-time clock until those steps complete, the print time would be a lot more accurate.

I think the worst part is the software doesn’t even monitor the printer for progress and update the estimate. It just counts the time down.

I started a print today and it never started printing because the resin container was empty so it couldn’t fill the tray. Nevertheless, the software reported the machine is printing and said three minutes left. I walked over to the printer to find a dispense error and nothing printed.

I’m extremely disappointed.

Hi @alexhawker,

Sorry for the late reply to this post, but I wanted to make sure that you were able to get in touch with our Support Team to get this problem looked into. Please do submit a ticket if not and they will be sure to help!

Hello, I had the same issue: At first the calculated time and the actual printing time were almost the same. Over time it got worse and worse, the actual printing time was around double the calculated time… which was catastrophic for planning ahead.

So I updated the firmware and rebooted the printer as some mentioned and the last print was fine.
Estimated time 1h7min actual printing time 55 min! (clear resin)

So for now I will reboot the printer regularly. Mine was running for 6 months straight.

1 Like

Hi @ID_Modellbau!
Thank you for sharing your experience - rebooting the printer especially after 6 months is a good call. This is helpful for any users that experience this in the future and is also one of our go-to recommendations.