Print Fail... With Kick-Ass Mirrors! (FIXED!)


I’ve already opened a Support Ticket and I was working with Hubbard on how to fix this, which I did in this post

The Sad Story (insert violin music here)

My printer is barely over 30 days old. I was able to print three good prints, then a series of fails, a great print, and for the past weeks it has been a comedy or horrors! I’ve been up trying different combinations: new Resin, New Resin with new Resin Tank, new Resin, new Resin Tank and without a shirt, you name it, I’ve tried it…

I keep getting a good start, and then after the 200th to 400th layer… KABOOM! I get these beauties:

Not knowing that it was going to get worse!

I submitted a Support Ticket, got in contact - via email, with Hubbard, and I did the Laser Diagnostic test:

And the cleaning of the Mirrors ceremony. First, the big mirror was HORRIBLE!

So I realized that there could only be one suspect:

(Damm you, DustGunDAM YOU TO HELL!)

So I cleaned the big mirror following Support’s Instructions and I got the mirrors so clean I could eat from them (did not do it):

I even labeled the cables as per the instruction!:

And I get this beauuuuuuuties!:

(My foe: Harden Resin!)

Nice, right? I’m at my wit’s end and I had to take two print jobs to a Service Bureau to have them printed at my expense, so for the past two weeks I’ve not only lost a client, but the last two print jobs… on me, people!..

What I’ve Learned

a) I love my Brother P-Touch labeler, and b) I’m not the only one with this problem…

I hope I didn’t get a dud, because I think I “talked” this printer a little bit too much to my clients… and now I have a lot of printing to do and I printer that cost $4K and only printed three good things out of twenty…

So far, very disappointed with this machine. Its well built, but I cannot believe that these failed prints are something one has to take with the machine “print-average” three out of twenty? C’mon!

Before You Judge Me

Here’s my process based on Thomas Roussel’s workflow:

“…What I’m writing bellow are global general advises, I don’t know what are your 3D Printing knowledge… Thomas Roussel.

• If your suspect your printer, load the default FormLabs butterfly clip, duplicate it several time to populate your resin tank and print it (I remember also scaling one a little bit bigger than the others and one slightly smaller). If they are printing fine, perhaps it’s not the printer** (but it still may be…). **Inspect the support, if all of them are fine, not some of them missing or melted, etc…

• Always inspect deeply your successful prints when the are finished and see if you don’t have somewhere a parts which look melted, failed or melted. Even a small one. If yes, it means that you have in your resin tank some floating cured/solidified/half-solidified/jelly resin. This problem is important because using your spatula to check your silicon layer may not let you see these. But of course, they can interfere with your next prints…

• *Always check your design before printing, when you are done with the supports creation. Do it layer by layer (up arrow key). You may discover that some parts of a layer will start “appear” without being connected to another part of your prints or to a support. It happened to me several times and even on a small location, it can create a failed print…

• Take care when playing with the support creation settings: reducing the touch point size or the density of them can be the source of failed prints: keep in mind that supports have two main goals: making parts “growing” from this support, and giving strength to your print during the printing process to support the peeling process and of course, it’s own weight (which can be important one big prints…

• On a regular basis, and especially after a failed prints or small parts unprinted/melted/missing, always filter your resin. I’m using a metal tea filter for that, I know that someone mentioned painting filters. The filter must be thin enough to remove all the small cured resin and especially the jelly resin. (search for a thread dedicated to the jelly resin in this same forum)…

• Before each new print, use your spatula (or a silicon one…) to make your silicon layer in your tank breathing. It will reduce your failed prints, reduce clouding and especially make the first layers being more sticky to the build platform. I’m doing that for a minute approximately. Credits to Monger Designs from this forum, read above for more information!..

• Hollowing the model can be a huge time and resin cost saver, but it means that it can increase the need of support, especially internal one. But in some scenarios, when the distance between two surfaces are close, PreForm may not be able to create the internal supports. And then it’s a source of failure. That’s why I’m advising to always check each layers one by one above…

• check on regular basis that you don’t have dust in your printer mirror or on the bottom part of the resin tank (as well as finger prints). It may not have a big impact on big failure, but it may create some laser derivation and then, create this Jelly effect or partially cured resin. I’m not totally sure about that one, but I’m always taking care of having a clean mirror and resin tank…

• Like mentioned on the protection of the new resin tank, never clean it with IPA or something else. I’m also never mixing resin in my resin tank. I have one for grey, one for white and one for transparent resin…

• Always inspect your new resin tank before using it. I had one which had some scratches on the side and the silicon had some kind of small waves on it. The support replaced it me right away…

• On a regular basis, check the silicon layer and see if you don’t have cloudy areas or small circles here and there. This silicon is a consumable part of the printer which is an important part of the printer and need to be changed times to times…

• IPA alcohol and resin are not good friends. I’m always taking care of not contaminating the resin with some alcohol that could remain on the spatula after cleaning it, or worst, from the building platform. Each time I need to clean one of this item, I do it with the IPA, drying it, then I’m using some water to rinse all potential remaining alcohol and rinsing again. Also take care that between the building platform black plastic and the metal part, you may have a small thin area where water or worst alcohol can go in. Then if it can go in, it can go out while printing. That’s why it’s always important to cleaning carefully your stuff…

I personally cleaning the build platform only when I need to use another resin. If I’m using the same resin, then I just use the spatula to be sure that no cured resin is sticking to this platform, but I’m not cleaning it between each print, even if I know that I won’t print for several days. When I’ll have the opportunity, I’ll buy extra building platform, one per resin type.

If you have some doubts after a failed print, just use a brand new resin tank with fresh resin and start again. If the print failed approximately on the same location, it may be a design issue with your model. If it failed on another area, it may be the printer. But of course, something else can be involved… (no way to be sure at 100%…)

• Always contact the FormLabs support. I don’t know for the others, but they always tried to helping me to solve my problems. It may be a stupid advise, but I guess they are the one who have the best knowledge about the printer…”

Now you can judge me…


Hi Frank, Please can you Tell me what the best Way is to clean the Mirrors…?
I have Same Problems and im Not shore, how i can cleaning the Mirror!
What Howto give you the Support?

Sorry for the bad English…

Excellent write up. I recommend this to anyone who recently received their printer. I’m in the process of sending my printer in for service so that they can get everything working again before I go back to printing.

Thanks Justin and Marco!

Marco: PLEASE! Send support a ticket so they can send you the PDFs! I would hate for you to void your warranty in case something BAD happens during the mirror-clean-up operation! I also read on the PDFs that I’m not allowed to copy or share them, I hope you understand… Send me your email if you have any questions!

I’m going to give another try at cleaning the Galvanometer mirrors, see if I missed something or what not.

Good luck Marco!

Frank J. Guthrie

I had a similar problem with dirty mirror. Looks fine but when casting a close LED light you see many red swirly marks. Perhaps they are from aircans since I used one to clear some dust when I got my Form1+ upgrade.

One thing to do is NOT test with clear resin. That is the trickiest resin to cure. Use white or gray.

Clean your tanks completely if you had some failed runs. I used Alcohol to clear out the inside and using the spat over and over to make sure everything is clear and pour it out. Do the back with good plastic polish cleaner.

Now for the mirror. You can use pec pads or other non-lint non-abrasive lens cleaner tissues but I didn’t really get results until I used a high quality microfiber cloth and alcohol all over the mirror making sure to keep using new parts of the cloth to pick up all the oils. The lens tissues just didnt seem to absorb much… so after 10 of those I went to the cloths and got a really clean mirror. Just be careful and use good non-latex gloves. If you want to know the cloth I used, it is the nice cloth that LifeProof iPhone cases come with. It is pretty amazing to use on the mirror but that was my risk since Form Labs is strong about just using Pec Pads.

So far I am printing pretty good gray and white objects and I use different trays for each. I will probably buy separate platforms and tanks for all the different resins since clean up is the worse thing to do with these printers and gives more chance for headaches from fumes even with respirator. I am thinking I need to start wearing goggles perhaps the fumes are going into my eyes and giving me the same effects of breathing it in.

any advice on not getting headaches please pass them by! I may make a thread on it.