Suddenly Terrible Quality

I am having a problem that is causing me to lose a lot of money and work.
Suddenly and without any changes to the printer, I am having terrible quality in certain places on the surface of the printed part. The surface, as you can see in the photos, seems to have a lot of overcured resin and the supports in certain places are joined together and with the piece, acting as if they were a “Rock”. Also, some holes that should not close because they are big, are closing.

Some photos:

    • I discard that it is the resin, because I tried both with Gray resin and with White V4 resin. I also leaked the resin and it keeps happening
    • I also discard that they are the tanks, since I tested with two different tanks in different sectors of the tank
    • The galvos in the printer are OK, clean and dust-free

I proceeded to clean the main optical glass, removing it and following the formlabs instructions, but the IPA leaves stains on me no matter how many times I pass it. I was able to remove most of it and leave it as you can see in the photo, although some minor stains are still visible against the light.

The latter caused the problem to continue, but also caused certain pieces to “break” in half. Half remains on the printing surface and the other half remains on the bottom of the tank

Contact Formlabs Support. They will instruct you how to clean the internal mirrors.

Hey @Joaquinpicci. I definitely feel your pain. A month ago I had the same issue. Just as you I cleaned the main optical window and the galvanometer mirrors. But I did not see you mention cleaning the 3rd mirror. Here is my picture of how dusty the mirror can get. Note that I try to be as clean as possible while operating the machine. But the dust simply piles up after years of operation and you need to maintain it.

how do you clean it? i cleaned everything and still terryble quality

The mirror shown above use a pec pad with a small amount of either alcohol or a lens cleaner. There is an article on the formlabs website that details cleaning the mirrors.

Do a lens cleiner like ZEISS leave less strains that IPA?

I use isopropyl alcohol

You need to use the right materials to clean the mirror. These are “primary” mirrors, the reflective coating is on the front side and it’s just few atoms thickness of Aluminum. Anything that’s even slightly abrasive will mar the mirror and ruin it. FL says to use Pec Pads and that’s the only thing you should use. I have a huge box of Zeiss Wipes that I use for the optics on my laser cutter, but I used Pec Pads exclusively with my Form2 (which I no longer own, upgraded to a 3).

There are also cotton swabs shipped by Formlabs specifically for cleaning the galvo mirrors.

We had to use Acetone (very carefully of course) to get a streak-free cleaning result.

i cant get a good clean without streaks

result of my optic test
Cleaned everything multiple times.

Having a similar issue here, a global manufacturing site, as well. Nothing changed, but one day all of our materials and models failed printing 100% of the time with identical issues (looks like their example of delamination).
Reaching out to support I got a few variations of the same template they send out saying its an optical issue and I need to clean the mirrors. Had no problem cleaning everything up super well as I used to work in optics and knew the tricks, but it didn’t affect print quality at all. I’ve run about 5 optical tests, 2 before cleaning (1 with the window completely removed as they said my window was bad; its not), 2 after, and then I cleaned again and did another test. It is almost impressive how identical they are, even in the failed sections.
Support has left us with a decision to swap with a refurb for half the price of a new printer or just dump it in the trash. There are only 5 or 6 different parts of this machine in total, so I’m not sure how this could be considered unfixable. From what I read on the forums, I’m starting to get the picture that these are dolled-up disposable printers using low-grade everything that are marked up a thousand percent over their actual value.

We were looking at buying a couple Form 3s or a 3L, but at this juncture it is my recommendation to management that we purchase a printer that is going to have a lifespan beyond 2 years before suffering an irreparable failure of seemingly nothing. I really want to like Formlabs, but they do their best to make it impossible. $150/liter basic media is beyond robbery anyway.

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This same thing happened to our form1+, we bought a Form3 figuring the problems like what you describe were fixed.

How old is yours?

I will say up front if this happens to ours I will be incredibly vocal about it.



Ours is almost 2 years old now, but has not performed very many prints at all due to us being effectively closed for COVID for the past year. We’ve maybe gone through 7-8 liters of resin and it’s been kept in a lab under its own fume hood at a consistent 70°F, so there shouldn’t have been much of anything that could have happened to it.

I wish you luck. You’re going to need it.

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