We have been using the Form 2 printer now for over a year for r&d purposes and we are now looking into the possibility of using the printer to print small batch production items.
The parts themselves are easy to print and we have never had issues with them, but we are wondering what the reliability of the parts would be like for production parts.
We use the Engineering Rigid resin, it works wonders for us, the issue we are facing with it however is finishing and painting these parts.
We currently do the cleaning and curing ourselves but are now looking into the Form Wash and Form Cure for more reliability in finishing these parts.
If anyone has had any experience with using the form 2 for production I’d love to hear your input and experiences doing so.
Any issues we could potentially face?
Long term reliability of the parts?
Is paint fading an issue?
I have many questions but I’m eager to find out more about using this printer for more than just prototyping.
Thanks in advance!
I’m using Tough for production parts, although those are internal parts so I have no input on painting.
We have been keeping the same program in the 2 printers we have for a while and printing in LT tanks, this has been going on since the beginning of the year with the same tank… no issue whatsoever for the moment. It seems as long as there are no printing errors (layers stuck on the tank) the LTs are very durable and don’t show any clouding even without moving the parts. We’re using Wash and Cure as those really allow for the best repeatability in the cleaning and curing of the parts.
We bought our F2 specifically for production runs of small parts that were too expensive to have molded/casted. We’ve been using V4 Black (although everyone in the forum seems to hate it) without issues in addition to the Wash/Cure. We’re still using normal tanks, so we swap out the tank with every resin to ensure we don’t lose any parts due to clouding. After a few bumps in the beginning, it’s been printing 23hr prints every day for the past month without issue. V4 Black parts come out soft from the printer, but after a cure they’re solid.
Awesome to see that there are people out there using these for production purposes!
Have you ever tried painting these prints?
You’ll have more answers from members here who are making scale models but there are definitely people painting the resins. I have done it a few times for one-offs (product prototype, typically) and with proper sanding the acrylic-based spray paint I have used worked well, even without primer.
To give a bit more emphasis on the usability of productions parts : this year we launched a new version of our flagship product, and we have designed a key internal part for 3D printing from the ground up, this is a risk since now the only way to make it is with a 3Dprinter. However we have optimised the shape and size to be able to print directly on the build platform, minimise resin usage, and we can print 12 of them in a 7-8h print so that’s 24 per work day. Without 3D printing we would have needed a couple or maybe even 3 parts machined/molded so the price per part would have been much higher (indefinitely for the machines ones, and for the first >10k parts for injection molding), and with 3D printing we can tweak the part overnight and add/remove small features easily which is a huge advantage.
I’ve been prototyping and doing small production runs ever since the form 1, paint is usually acrylics, but I’ve used oil based paint as well.
I use the Form 2 mainly for small run production for my custom game system company. I sand and paint the majority of my prints.
After a day or so of post cure I wash my parts by hand with soap and warm water. I then carefully sand any support dimples away with 200 to 400 grit paper. The cure resin sands very well and you will remove far more material than you expect so be careful. After I’m satisfied with this step I scuff the whole thing with a fine scotch brite pad. I buy these at my auto parts store but you can get them at places like Home Depot as well. Next I rinse the part again with warm water. I then use my air compressor to remove all the water and dry it off.
I typically apply a few light coats of auto primer to my parts. If everything looks good after this step I lightly scuff the primer with the scotch brite pads. If my parts need more sanding and spot filler I do another round of primer after filling and sanding. Primer shows imperfections in your surface, especially grey primer.
Once the primer and fairing stage is done I go onto base coat and clear coat. I dont always use a clear coat but I find it protects the base coat better if you do.
Here are some shots of the things I make with the Form 2. While the parts arent as perfect as an injection molded part they do come as close as you can get with a 3D printer. Sadly due to suction forces, post cure warping and Z axis tolerances the parts are a bit imperfect. I find SLA printers do a much better job with smaller organic shapes than they do with large planar objects.!
These are mostly painted with auto spray paints. Primers and acrylic lacquers.
*Note my website is down
I have been printing production parts for 1-1/2 years. The most difficult issue is that it is nearly impossible to match the sheen of the standard resin (I’m printing black parts). My parts are very detailed, so I want to minimize the amount of sanding I do. The only way to keep the sheen uniform seems to be to not place any supports on the top/front of the part. I am printing 50 microns, standard black resin. My best case is to sand with 320, but the sheen disappears. Does anyone know a way to restore the sheen? I’ve tried scores of tools, sanding grits, and types of sandpaper. None of these work. Even after mineral-oiling the part, the surface sheen will differ between the sanded and unsanded surfaces. You can’t see the difference when the part is wet, but when dried (or wiped) the difference is visible. I’m wondering if there is a wipe-on or soaking substance that may equalize the sheen without my having to sand every millimeter of the part.
I use my F2 for producing scale models of aircraft weaponery for about 3 years. Typically I print most of the components for each model using tough resin and LT tanks. Unfortunately I discovered that some parts were warping - wings on some of the models were deforming due to to my ignorance of the resin specs. Some discussion with a Form Labs resin expert led to a change to rigid resin for those items that had higher amounts of vertical stress (e.g. wings on my JASSM & LRASMs.) Post print wash is done using standard 92% IPA in the tubs that came with my printer - a Form Wash beckons me daily. IMHO keeping the IPA fresh is critical for all my post print steps - a gummy print means curing and painting will suffer no matter how much UV, heat and primer you hit everything with. UV curing is done using a custom aftermarket box that I got before FL released the Form Cure (which I have been known to dream of occasionally.) I use a 405nm high powered Laser pointer to spot cure drain holes/imperfections using the same resin used to print the items. I use 120 or 200 grit sandpaper blocks from our local WalMart for general sanding and then use precision files, same ones used by jewelers, when more accurate filing is needed. Priming is done using rattle cans of Tamiya Fine gray - it dries very fast and the very fine particulates in the primer retains the details very nicely, along with the mistakes, even after 2 or 3 coats. Base color coats are done using Tamiya or ModelMaster acrylics shot through an airbrush or using brushes. Final finish is 2-3 coats of Tamiya flat, semi-gloss or gloss clear depending on the type of result required. Keeping the optics path clean is my biggest challenge but ensures consistently accurate results.
I print production parts for automotive restoration, mostly “customer facing” components in the cabin where a high quality finish & fine detail is needed. My only issue is that SLA printed parts are brittle which limits the possible applications quite a bit. Almost everything I print is sprayed black or silver. I have no issues with paint adhesion as long as I use a good primer.
This thread is amazing!
Thank you all to have responded - its been a great help so far!!