Formlabs Website Store Support

Replacement Laser unit


#1

Finally been told by FL Tech. Support that BOTH lasers on my 2 Form 2 printers have failed. The chart shows that they have been running down. Interesting they both happen at the same time. The older printer was bought new the newer printer is a refurbish printer which may have had a used laser in it I feel seeing the older printer’s laser lasted a lot longer.

Their solution is $1,200 to replace the printers (each) with a “refurbish” printer! Not a good deal in my mind seeing I’ve been fighting this problem for a month and being told it’s dirt in the optics even as I asked about the laser.

So, I’m wondering if there might be a source that someone knows of to buy a replacement laser so I could exchange the ones in the printers myself? I’ve torn one or both down almost to the frame to do service work in the past so not afraid to try as I’ve got little to loose if I don’t succeed. I’ll sell the printers for parts then. :rofl::joy:


#2

If you ask 'em nice, they might sell you the bare laser or tell you where to buy one. Odds are good it’s a customized unit and not some off-the-shelf laser that’s also used in some other products from some other manufacturer. But you never know.

Also, worth a forum search. I dimly remember a discussion like this from a couple of years ago…

On my Form1, many of the parts still have the original manufacturer’s information on them. Since one of your F2s isn’t really working at all, and it’s already out of warranty, you’ve got nothing to lose by taking it apart and pulling the laser to see if it has any identifying marks…


#3

Neither of the Form 2 printers are in warranty, FL pointed that out clearly. BOTH lasers went at the same time. That’s my beef as it shows the newer, to me, printer was a refurbished and had a used laser in it probably same age as my oldest printer.

When I get time I may strip one of them down. But for now they will be cleaned up and mothballed. I have 4 liters of resin to return, I hope, and two brand new LT trays I’m going to try and return if I can. As I’ve said, I’ve spent $$$$ trying to get these units running as FL Tech kept saying it was dirty optics. Fact is even after saying the lasers had failed they are pointing a finger at dirty galvo mirror.


#4

I did ask if I could buy the lasers as I was willing to install myself. But, like you pointed the calibrate them in the printer.
Didn’t offer an amount for them to replace the laser but did say the galvo was dirty even after showing a chart that shows the degradation of the laser.


#5

Hmm. I don’t know what a laser power degradation life curve should look like. But I have to wonder what else might produce a similar effect that’s not the lasers. Since I’m with you on the simultaneous point of failure. Even two lasers made at the same time and subjected to the same operating envelope are going to have different lifetimes. I deal with reliability science in my day to day job. The odds are really low that two separate components like this will exhibit the same wearout curve. These things are like snowflakes. Step far enough away and they all look the same, but up close they are all unique from each other.

I’d be more inclined to blame the optical path. That’s the part on both machines that is going to degrade at the same rate since both machines are exposed to the same ambient environment and that where the mirror contaminants come from.


#6

We, the are saying, still, that the Galvo mirror is dirty. I know the main mirror and glass are totally clean but they want photos to prove it. I’ll take and using my high powered magnifying goggles and a bright light examine the Galvo mirror and see if I can clean it better. Then I’ll do ONE LAST test print. If it works OK if not I"m done with this.


#7

Thanks for sharing this chart, that is very interesting. I have many questions (sorry :slight_smile:) about it:
I assume that the yellow and blue data points are from the two printers, is that correct? Do you know what the black data points represent?
The y axis unit is % laser power?
What happend from Sep 2018 - Mid Nov 2018?
Did you ever clean the galvos in the time period shown in the graph?
All prints are with ALW resin with the same profile in Preform?
The quality of your prints is still ok, you only have the problem with that additional curing at the base that causes alot of cleanup problems?

Here is my speculation what could happen:
Over the use period the laser diode degrades and outputs less power and the beam shape gets “broader” (less energy in the center of the beam). So an old laser in your F2 has a beam spot with more energy in the “skirt”. Here is a picture of what the spot of my Moai laser looks like atm:


It creates prints that look like the prints you find in this forum when you search for “laser flare”: A lot of flakes of cured resin stick on the print. If i remember correctly the F2 prints the first layer with multiple laser passes, so laser flare manifests itself there.
A short term solution would be to build a “laser choke”, but that’s probably not a solution that is viable for you from a business point of view.


#8

No, this is off one machine. The yellow and blue dots are what’s important. Black dots according to FL aren’t important.
Everything has been cleaned now 4 times. This time I used high level magnifying specs to examine. I’ve cleaned and polished everything. The main mirror and glass are spotless and not film or distortion.
Yes, ALW resin uses the same specs. Fact is I’ve mixed them in the pass with no issues.
Prints were perfect up until a month ago then everything tanked. I’ve been producing a basket full of scrap since. I’ve had to shut my website to new orders and still have a stack on my desk I can’t fill.
The issue is why did BOTH lasers fail at the same time? FL has no story on that.
You may be correct on the Laser flare but FL isn’t even going that way. I’ve just about given up on them.
Just finished cleaning everything again for the 4th time. Really spent time making sure each item was total clean and no streaks or dust. Have a test printer running now. We’ll see.


#9

That statement makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. :slight_smile:

These are primary mirrors. The reflective coating is on the front of the glass, not the back like a bathroom mirror. The coating that makes them reflective is a layer of aluminum that’s vapor-deposited on to the glass. Aluminum is soft, and the coating is very, very thin. “cleaned” is OK. 'polished" is definitely not. The material can be removed fairly easily. But it’s trivially easy to burnish the surface so it’s no longer smooth. It might look OK to the naked eye, it still reflects but the laser energy is scattered and no matter of subsequent cleaning can make it better. Each subsequent cleaning will only make it worse.

Especially if you’ve done it 4x. Hard not to be frustrated and maybe lean a little harder with the pec wipe on the later attempts. It doesn’t take much to wreck 'em. And that might explain why you can’t get anything to improve in spite of your efforts.

Do you remember the dates when you cleaned the mirrors and can you line them up to that graph? Did FL send you the raw data for the graph? I’d take the blanks out so you can see how the laser power changed from one print to the next, and if there is any “step function” change collated with the times you cleaned the printers…


#10

I’m well aware of the mirror coating and I’ve replaced them in the Form 1+. I wiped it down with a Pecpad with no moisture on the pad. It did have a slight miss coloring and I only did that once today.
Big thing to day was cleaning the Galvo mirror and also wiping the glass. There is no cast or dirt on anything. I even used binocular head set to see the galvo mirror close. Did one test print and all I got was a slab stuck to the resin tray.
That’s it, I GIVE UP I’ve had enough of being up Shit’s Creek. I canceled the order for the S-BOX and will place an order for the MONON X printer seeing it has 4K screen compared to the 2K screen.

I’ve set up the Photon S 3D printer I’ve had on hand. At least I should be able to print a few items at a time for now to fill what orders I have on hand. Also give me experience with CHUTIUBOX software. I’ve set up my first print and maybe tomorrow I’ll run it.


#11

Sorry to say, I run 4 or my 5 printers over the last two years and they are just the most unreliable thing I have ever used. I would never buy one for myself, and the university, per my suggestions, are looking into a different brand and scrapping these as they go bad. I had one that blew a lead screw motor and another with a bad laser (2nd bad laser, this one was out of warranty). Took the laser out of the first bad on and put it in the bad laser unit and it has worked fine for the last year.


#12

Yep I finally figured out I got shipped a bad laser to begin with the thing never worked as advertised for me. I used open mode and castable setting now to be able to print black v4 and ive finally gotten supports to work.

I checked every single possibility and the support guys were kind to help (Not there fault) I can only imagine the crap they must get on a daily basis from people having issues. But even cleaning multiple times, levelling, new resin new tank new build platform new glass window It finally now came down to the lasers power. If I had the knowledge I do now I would have known what kind of test to run. You live and learn.

Such a pain that they cant just sell a cheap 3d printed laser and galvo housing instead of the cnc machined part they have I would buy a replacement instantly. I know it would really help the community out.

The current replacement cost or refurbishment is a joke, we are not all made of money and if my printer worked as advertised I’d be buying tonnes of resin. The experience for me in short has not been a good one. The diode and galvo motors similar ones on alibaba are dirt cheap, I think the main high price is that machined housing its quite a complex shape to cnc and that is probably were the high price lies. To be honest I don’t care what the housing looks like and Formlabs have such great resin chemistries it begges the question why not offer a form resin laser and galvo housing replacement could be made in tough or black Im sure.

I’ll resort to printing sparingly now (not that I ever was able to print consistantly) in open mode until the thing gives up and I need to throw it in the trash but I would never buy one again no matter the marketing spin sad to say.

However If they 3d printed a cheap laser and galvo housing for us it would defiantly give me confidence that they care about customers longterm.

I would’ve or would be buying thousands in resin if the thing was reliable or worked as advertised. But even in open mode the wiper is disabled so it doesn’t mix up the resin so still not ideal, mixing is still needed for long prints so in closing. Not a fun experience.


#13

I had the same laser problem as many on this forum. Of course, I didn’t take the service from formlabs for $ 1000 … I decided to figure it out myself …
one.

  1. https://aliexpress.ru/item/32799947259.html?spm=a2g0o.cart.0.0.5b863c00YXkjIp&mp=1&_ga=2.133544839.883549946.1625726856-1955098584.1587138412&_gac=1.49948244.1625170273.CjwKCAjwrPCGBhALEiwAUl9X03jN04PpFG-FX5EtaNe1SMq2NrdKMDkANsvAquS5GeJwZDCxs4ZkWRoCJjkQAvD_BwE
    Full replacement of the original laser. Cheaper than the original, but I still think it’s expensive. This is the solution - set and work. Such a laser worked for me for 6 months and started the same way as with the original.

  2. https://aliexpress.ru/item/4000091581152.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.274233ed0EctCJ
    Here is the required outer clip, since the laser diameter is 12mm, and the slot in the printer is 15mm, I print the clip on the printer. This is a very cheap option, but it needs to be power calibrated with resistors and focused to get a quality point. I have been using this laser for the third or fourth. Depends on the quality of the batch. The latter has been in operation for over 6 months.

The main advantage of the last laser. After installing it, I get normal prints using the cheapest non-original reactive resin


#14
  1. Order a laser using the link with Ali
  2. Print or cut out the sleeve. Because the original laser has D = 15mm, and this one is 12mm
  3. You will need a variable resistance resistor. Our laser has a power of 1W 5.2V. For reactive cheap LCD resin, the voltage should be 2.6-3.5V
  4. Fixing the laser in the seat and plugging it into the printer connector. We center the position of the laser and focus so that at the bottom of the resin tank we get a point of the minimum size