Preform should remember past object positions per resin tray

From all appearances, each tray used by my Form 2 has a unique id associated with it (or, at the very least, associates a given tray with a resin type on first use).

The Form2 printing docs suggest that users should vary the location of each print to allow for even “wear” across the print tray. But who can remember all the places they’ve arrange their objects for each tray, particularly if you switch between resins often.

Seems to me like a better approach would be to have the Form2 remember the location of each print for a tray, and communicate that back to Preform (alternatively, Preform could just remember the position of what it sends to the printer, but this doesn’t account for jobs sent to the device but never actually printed.

These “used” areas could then show up in the Preform display as various shades of gray denoting how much wear a particular area of the tray has. This would let users (or the automatic position function) pick a spot with the lowest wear, without having to manually chart each print job’s location.

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“Heat Map” is the term for what you’re requesting. And alas, it’s been requested before but FL has not commented on their willingness to support the implementation of this type of feature.

When a resin tank starts to get old, I’ve taken to “squeegeeing” the resin with the putty-knife scraper so I can get a look at the PDMS to spot “stay away” areas that appear heavily clouded. It’d be nice if the printer did remember where I’d printed stuff so I could make the determination “digitally” instead of “analog-ly”…

I don’t think Formlabs thinks there’s no value in a usage map. This could be a way to tell the user when it’s time to replace the tray.

Calculating how the PDMS wears isn’t as cut and dried as adding up the print area of each slice. Each part can have features that wear the PDMS more quickly. Even if you figure that out there are other issues.

The first issue is the fact that you can use the trays in several machines. Any data needs to be stored on the tray or some other source. If the machines aren’t hooked up to the internet you’ll be stuck with data on the tray. There probably isn’t storage space for this currently.

So, is this feature worth paying extra to add storage on a consumable item?

Is this feature worth being forced to stay connected to the internet on each printer and have the data saved at Formlabs? Would you pay for that storage?

Are you OK with being forced to replace a resin tray that is “used up” regardless of the actual condition of the PDMS?

Personally I would rather just have a look at the PDMS every 10 prints or so and note where there are issues. We should be inspecting for half cured chunks and other issues anyway.

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This is over software-ing a cheap solution . . . a new resin tank at $60.

Although, it would be nice to have access to a wear-map or usage map for each tank as it is used. LIKE with carbon paper you can see the wear-out locations. With a Resin Tank it’s hard to see the wear marks.

This way you can print it out and attached it to the removed tank.

If you have problems seeing the clouding try putting black paper under the tray. The white ghosting/clouding in the tank will show up.

Come to think of it, you could Take a picture of the clouding in each tray and keep a printout with each tray. You would have to empty the tray but not that often. Clouding shouldn’t happen in one print unless you use cheap third party resins (like Fun 2 Do or Makerjuice).

You could certainly do all that - or the software could just draw a map for you. :wink:

But with the laborious manual approach, it would be difficult to precisely align clouded areas with Preform. Also, I think the point of having the software drawing the map is to minimize clouding in the first place. It won’t really be evident until its pretty much too late.

A Heat Map isn’t intended to tell you when the resin tank needs replacing. It simply shows you where the most wear and least wear has occurred. It would be up to you, the user, to judge when the tank needed replacing, just as it is, now. The difference is simply that instead of laboriously squeegeeing resin aside to get a peek at the PDMS to figure out if there are any clearer lower-used areas that could still be used, you could look at the heat map and put your object where the map says the least amount of printing has occurred. When you run out of low-usage areas and you can’t get a print to succeed any more, it’s time to replace the tank.

You can use tanks in different machines. But you can swap resin cartridges between machines, too. The problem of the new machine not knowing how much resin is in a cartridge is the same as not knowing how much usage a tank has experienced. I don’t see this as a reason not to implement a Heat Map. Sure, it won’t help guys like you who move tanks around from machine to machine. You’d have to do it the old-fashioned “organic” way by manually inspecting the tanks for yourself. But for the ~98% of other users who don’t have multiple machines, or who do but don’t move tanks or cartridges around, a Heat Map would be a big convenience feature… and it’s a trivial implementation effort.

Most people don’t use multiple machines so having a single-machine solution heatmap would work fine. And if they really wanted to, they could have a feature where Preform could automatically position the object for the best location based on use of the tray.

I wanted to update this thread and mention that tank heatmaps are now live through the Dashboard! The ‘materials’ section will now display heatmaps of the most used areas for each of your tanks. Avoiding frequently used areas will help to minimize clouding and maximize the lifetime of your tanks.


Great! This is really cool. Thanks Formlabs.

Very cool, looks great, thank you for implementing.