Print directly from 'PreForm'

It would be great to be able to print directly from the ‘PreForm’ app without having to confirm the process with a button press on the printer. At the moment, as far as I can tell, you can only upload a file to the printer.

If you add this feature, then, when I am working at home, I can remotely log onto the computer connected to the printer at my studio, upload and print a model: all without having to do an hour round trip just to press the button on the printer.

It will cut down on fossil fuels and save the planet in the long run. You guys will be heroes! :tada:

There is a widely believed fact that software cannot damage hardware. It isn’t true… Allowing the remote starting of a print job without a visual inspection of the printer seems a touch unwise.

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Ask any Iranian nuclear scientist about software damaging hardware…

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You could always set up a home security type webcam or Raspberry Pi and camera to keep an eye on the printer. So you could see what state it is in. I would actually appreciate this feature as i have to work away from home for short periods. If I left the Printer powered on and with a good cartridge full of resin it would be helpful to be able to complete a drawing in my hotel room and set preform going and send a print to my machine at home especially as some of the prints take many hours. Then its ready when I arrive back.

I forgot to mention the webcam. Yes, that is a given.

you mean the centerfuges got stux on? I hate it when that happens…

Even not over a network… Just to be able to start through the software when connected with a USB would be nice.
One Month into owning a Form 2 and I am already on my 2nd Printer.
First one was destroyed due to a faulty Resin Cartridge and dumped resin all down into the machine now on the second one I just received yesterday is already down due to a Faulty Main Panel/display so once again I can’t print because I can’t access the touchscreen so I now have to wait for a new screen to be sent overnight.(Which I do appreciate that)
But at least give us the option to work/start a print form our computer Christ my cheap ass Chinese Laser cutter/engraver has that option.

Formlabs developer here. This was a conscious design decision, we have one process that is responsible for the communication with PreForm (both USB and network), and it is shielded from any operation that affects the printing hardware (heater, laser, motors, resin system). That is also why we require a physical user to confirm the print start by pressing the button. We could indeed allow the user to start a print over USB, and I will bring that up, but we will still require a physical press of the button, to ensure that the user goes through the print checklist (check build platform, check open cap, etc…). I hope that sheds some light on this “limitation”.

Thank You… I understand the reasoning for for the manual button press… I could have done that without the touchscreen. :slight_smile:

I believe in this case, it seems that the decision makers at FormLabs have based their reasoning on some incorrect assumptions:

Assumption 1. A physical button press ensures that the user goes through the print checklist.
This is not always the case as detailed in a number of posts in this forum.

Assumption 2. A user that is not present for the physical button press has not gone through the print checklist.
This is not necessarily the case. My printer is located in a different suburb from where I do my modeling, so I go in to collect my last print from my Form 2, I then go through the checklist while I am there, and then I go home to do some more modeling over the next day or two.
I can upload the next model via a remote computer connected to the printer, but even though it has been checked, I have to make an hour round trip just to press a button. It can even get an additional remote check with webcams. That’s twice as much checking as required!

There is a very simple solution that will accommodate remote printing and still require the print checklist and a physical button press, and that is to treat the current physical “Print” button as a physical “Printer Has Been Checked” physical button, so it will only print directly from PreForm. if the physical button has been pressed after the last print.

That way the local users will still be going through the all current steps, ie model -> PreForm -> printer ->, checklist -> ‘physical button press’ -> print, and the remote users can checklist -> ‘physical button press’ -> model -> PreForm -> printer -> print.

Everyone is happy :grinning: as everyone has their cake and eat it too. That’s 100% more cake!!!

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I’m not certain jumping states like that makes sense (as a way for them to hack in your request). Doesn’t doing that already do something else? Dunno, I have an F1+.

I do, however, strongly agree with your conclusion that they made what appears to be, in your rules system, ‘false assumptions’.

They are juggling several ‘rules’ systems; the one that is best for the user, the one that is best for the developers, the one that minimizes support headcount, and the one that’s the cheapest.

You are correct. The the sort order was reversed in my statement.


I don’t understand what you mean, so I assume I did not make myself as clear as I could have, (sorry).

The physical “Printer Has Been Checked” confirm button must still be pressed once, but at any time after your last print has been removed and after you have gone through your checklist.

In practice here is the proposed procedure:

Steps for the Local User:

  1. Remove any existing prints from the printer.
  2. Import a new model into PreForm software.
  3. Orient/add supports etc.
  4. Press PreForm’s soon to be added “direct-print” option.
  5. Alert Box pops up on the PC (and on your printer) with the request: “Please go through the print checklist and press Confirm on your printer”.
    This appears because you haven’t yet pressed the physical “Printer Has Been Checked” confirm button.
  6. Go through the print checklist (check build platform, check open cap, etc…).
  7. Press the physical “Printer Has Been Checked” confirm button. The printer is now unlocked.
  8. The printer prints your model.
  9. The “Confirm” flag is reset, and the printer is locked.

Steps for the Remote User:

  1. Remove any existing prints from the printer.
  2. Go through the print checklist (check build platform, check open cap, etc…).
  3. Press the physical “Printer Has Been Checked” confirm button. The printer is now unlocked.
  4. From a remote location, possibly a few days later, import a new model into PreForm software.
  5. Orient/add supports etc.
  6. Press PreForm’s soon to be added “direct-print” option.
    No alert Box pops up because you have already performed the print checklist and pressed the physical “Confirm” button.
  7. The printer prints your model.
  8. The “Confirm” flag is reset, and the printer is locked.

This enables users to print from a remote site, yet you still have to check your printer and press a physical button on your machine. Best of both worlds.

Does that make sense now?

absolutely. I’m certain your steps there are perfect for your workflow. what I was saying was the physical button press after a finished print may, in fact, already be mapped to another function. But I am swagging it.

I see what you are saying now, ChristopherBarr.

Manuel_Odendahl did say that it was a conscious design decision to shield the PreForm software from the printer’s firmware routines that are responsible for the actual printing, but the printer changes to a print-ready state after a model upload. That would suggest that the button is connected dynamically to an IO pin on the microcontroller on the motherboard, so it is easily reprogrammed if they decide to reconsider.

Even if for some reason, FormLabs have blocked off that path by hardwiring the button, then consider it a proposal for the next generation printer so it can also be used remotely. That way it can be perfect for everyone’s workflow.

Thank you for your suggestions. We regularly keep improving the workflow to start a print (we introduced the checklist in 1.5 I think), and try to find the best possible solution considering all the criterias we have. While I can fairly confidently say the physical button press is here to stay, we are hard at work improving the connectivity between PreForm and the Form2, as well as the printing workflow itself.