Prints are failing part way through, strange thin skins of resin hanging off them?

Hi there! I’ve had a bit of a strange and aggravating occurrence with my form1 (not +) . It was acting find a couple of weeks or so ago and i’ve been using it constantly. But id say the beginning of this week my prints are just failing non stop.
It’s like the printer gets part way through them and then gives up. Sometimes it will print out the supports with nothing attached to them, or only small segments of the model (and leaves no mess in the resin tray?).
But i will always fine this weird, thin flaps or skins of resin hanging off my prints.
I’ve included two pictures, one of a test print which didnt fail but has the resin stuck to it, and another of the recent print failures.

Im using a form1, V1 clear resin. 0.1 and 0.05 setting. offset 0.4mm lower.
I have kept my mirrors very clean, they are dust free and grease free using pecpads and IPA as per instruction. And i have installed a new tank, What else could be causing this?

Models are normally hollow with internal supports and drain hole. 1mm wall.

I’ve recently run a laser spot test, are there any opinions on the quality of this outcome?

I have started to get this exact same problem. i.e. my prints start ok ( model firmly attached to the print base and supports start to print ok, then the print fails ( sticky mess stuck to the resin tank base and the thin flaps of resin all over the failed model. ) My mirror is clean and changing the tank and resin has no effect. I have no pictures at present as i was still trying to debug this myself but am running out of ideas. I’m going to try printing a chess piece i have printed before to see if it is anything to do with the STL file I generated. Another thing i wanted to try was to use an older version of software to roll back to as a couple of weeks ago i had a 95% success level with my printer. Anyone know where i can find older software to try?

thats interesting as i also had much more success a few weeks ago i did not realise there was a software update. I am hoping this might be the issue as i am totally out of ideas on what to do, I’m even on to version 2 resin now and it made no difference. Ive tried atleast 7 different STL files hollow and solid but i have the same issue. It is frustrating as the finetuning tool solved my problem weeks ago when i was having issues and a new and worse problem has arisen.

I have even more weirdly had failed prints that have left NO mess in the tank atall! what happened there i wonder did it just stop?? very odd.

I have just found a number of older versions of PreForm in my downloads folder so will try Vers 1.7. However i doubt this will rewind the firmware so i can’t revert back fully to the situation i had when the printer was working well.
I’ll post back if this helped or not when i get chance to print again today.

@katie_hyatt - that spot test does look really bad, and you say it’s not a Form1+? unfortunately the original Form1 is exceedingly prone to laser failure - so it seems quite possible that’s what’s happened to your machine.

Presumably it’s not still under warranty and is perhaps a second hand purchase?

Laser spot tests are often very inconsistent - so assuming you have no warranty to risk - the final test would be to take your laser out and shine it against a wall. You’d need a 2.5mm hex key to remove the back panel and loosen the laser/galvo block to release the laser - and since laser diodes are apparently sensitive to static you should be wired to earth (I wire myself to the radiator when handling mine) while handling the laser. Also maybe some typex to mark the lasers orientation with before removing it.

If you shine it on a wall at a distance of about a foot or so and it looks like that - like a torch, instead of a bright little spot - then you know it’s not the large or small mirrors, or the galvo mirrors - and that it’s laser failure.

Unfortunately no-one has found a plug-in replacement laser, and if that is the issue it may be that your only option is to talk to FL about an F1+ upgrade and whether they’d charge extra for a faulty machine. Assuming the issue is the laser then they shouldn’t charge extra since the laser is different in the F1+ anyway …

I believe the new laser was the main point of the F1+ (along with a new galvo control board, the old ones were also failure prone) - it’s marketed as an upgrade, but actually it’s just a fix for two very frequent failure points of the original F1.

Hi Kevin. This is the original form1, we have owned it all its life (about mid last year). It has no warranty left so im happy to remove the laser and point it at the wall. I’ve cleaned the mirrors inside the machine as a last attempt so i should be ok removing the laser system. thankyou for the advice though i will try it ASAP.
I’m sad to hear you cannot purchase a replacement laser unit yet.
However we are planning to upgrade our F1 to a plus this year so maybe no time like the present! I would hope there is no extra charge yes the parts will be totally replaced!

I have this exact problem right now with two different form 1+ machines. clear resin, i’ve tried 0.2mm, 0.1mm, 0.5 and 0.25mm layer thicknesses. The problem started happening in the last 5 days when I opened a new bottle of clear resin. I’ve ran laser tests on both machines, new build platforms, resin tanks and fresh resin (from the new bottle). No changes had any affect on the failed prints.

I’m wondering if the resin formulation changed. I am out of my old resin so I can’t confirm the results.
I also noticed my machines are running a bit warm, 81F when idle (12+ hours since last print) in a room with 72F ambient temperature:

Given the maximum temperature of the resin is 82F and knowing when i remove prints they are warm to the touch, i can’t help but think my printers are exceeding the thermal envelope for resin. Since very small prints succeed and large ones fail (about an inch of vertical height into the print i get failures like you posted), that further points to a thermal issue.

any thoughts?

Steve this is very interesting as i am also using only clear resin and have not tried a different colour sample. Although the issue began with an old v.1 bottle of resin it is quite possible that resin had expired. However my failures are much worse with the new v2 clear resin, I will have to buy some pigmented resin and test this.
Although i have also had print failures on much smaller pieces as well as large ones which is frustrating. Someone else with a +1 on the studio has informed me that he found white to be the most successful.
Our older original form1 does generate quite a reasonable amount of heat, I have found that if i do not give the machine time to rest it results in a higher failure rate.
Do you think it is also possible for the laser to travel slightly in the clear resin as opposed to a resin that is clouded with a pigment i wonder? causing more print defects?

Well it turns out the timing of my failing prints and the software update was unfortunate as i have rolled my printer and firmware back to the previous revision when it was printing well and it is nothing to do with this. In fact with every test print the results get worse to the point i have a good idea what is wrong and will be calling Formlabs support today. The laser beam appears not to be focused anymore and has a fuzzy area around the centre beam. This must be getting worse as i now notice that the edge of the base of the model has extra cured resin around it. This appears to be forming a skin all around the model as it prints each layer and this wobbly skin must eventually block the laser and the print practically stops curing altogether at around 1 inch deep. Not sure if this is related but the resin gets hot to the point my black resin has the viscosity of water immediately after a print. For the record my main mirror and the smaller mirror are perfectly clean and dust free.

Hi Dean, i found the exact same thing today, i found a copy of preform with the old supports, even before finetuning was available! no luck, still awful messy skins of resin. I have cleaned my mirrors again and it just doesnt help. I am in contact with support, apparently my older form1 does have an upgraded laser module in it, so if by chance this isnt the problem i really do not know the issue with the machine, but the prints have degraded to the lowest point possible, i have just lumps on supports now.
I have been advised that if my machine did not function well after cleaning it will have to go back to formlabs for a maintenance check, which is unfortunate, i will take this opportunity to also get an upgrade. I am frustrated as i feel i have exhausted all possibilities, if it is not the laser.
Out of interest Dean what resin are you using?

@Dean_Wilkin & @katie_hyatt, just a shot in the dark. But are you running the same firmware as you did with the newest preform? Otherwise you’re not able to rule out a dodgy firmware update!

that’s what i’m wondering Alex, as this all started just over 2 weeks ago with a firmware update i am wondering if this is the case! if so i do not know if i can do anything to solve the problem. Can you rollback a machines firmware?

Katie:- I was exclusively using White resin until the failing prints. I then ran out because of all the test prints to try and debug it and had to change to black resin. Both type exhibits the same results except the black resin gets very warm. This warming may be normal as i nearly always use white and so have little experience using it.

Alex:- i first tried rewinding to V1.7 PreForm and there was no change. I then discovered i could rewind the firmware also ( Great Feature Formlabs ) and again this had no effect. Then i put both Preform and the Firmware back to the newest version and we are at the point now where the prints are unrecognisable.

@katie_hyatt that’s interesting - how did that happen - have you previously returned it for repair?

If you haven’t had it previously repaired, then I’m confused - and would you be able to confirm? you don’t have to touch any internals - just open the back cover and look at the laser - if it’s black and 6cm long like this one then it’s the F1+ laser, if it’s shorter and bare metal bronze with a clear sticker then it’s the original laser.

I will do as soon as my test print is over!
I was informed by support after they looked up the order. Maybe some of the later old form1s were fitted with a better laser? it has not been repaired or returned at any point. I do hope i have that laser now or i will be disappointed! Print is over in about an hour although im sure like the previous ones it has gone quite wrong.

OK so heres a new problem. I cannot get the firmware feature to work on my printer. If i try to revert to the older firmware, my printer just shuts down during the firmware replacement and the rollback fail.
And the only way i can get the printer to turn back on is to unplug and plug in the machine again.
So i cant try older firmware. This could be a new issue in itself!

@katie_hyatt that doesn’t sound ideal - but if it’s any consolation, I’ve been on these forums pretty much since the beginning and I have seen dozens and more threads wondering if a preform/firmware change started wrecking their prints - and I have not yet seen a proven case where reverting the firmware/preform solved the issue.

There have been many cases where the change in firmware to print failure co-incidence seemed very strong - but I cannot recall any cases where reversion convincingly solved the issue.

Have you checked your laser?

sorry yes i have here it is!
Annoyingly it is the new one it seems! im freshly stumped!

@katie_hyatt - yes that’s the new laser - on balance I’d say it’s good news to have the new laser :slight_smile: the old one was very likely to fail, so given that it’s the new one, it does make the laser less likely to be to the issue - so I’m assuming that laser spot photo is perhaps over-exposed.

Can you control your camera settings - or is it a phone? or maybe the paper is too thick and is scattering the light too much…

Besides that I’m sure you’ve been through all of this with FL support already - but - for the record here…

Are you filtering your resin?
what temperature is the machine room?
have you checked the galvo mirrors as well? (use a bright torch shone from the side to pick up small specks/smudges)
any clouding in your vat silicone? (I see though in your OP you mentioned new a tank … so scratch that one I guess)
how old is your resin?
is your build platform at all wobbly when clamped on?

After all that - maybe it is the laser. Perhaps not a failure as such, but as it’s not sealed, unlikely as it seems perhaps a mote of dust could have got inside. So it might still be worth checking the “shine it on the wall” test since you’re out of warranty. As I say though - I think the laser is well protected from static - but to be safe be sure you’re wired to earth first - and make note of it’s orientation. You may not have to mark it, there is a little screw-hole on one side.