What's the deal with Form 3?


#1

I feel like there is too little information available about it. Maybe I am not looking in the right places, but I am also being pressured to make a decision by the end of the month to receive a discount for a product that does not yet exist - remember the fuse 1?

What are the overall dimensions of the printer vs the form2? Did the printer grow in size? Is this still going to fit on my desk?

Does the printer still use a wiper? Does low force stereolithography still have to raise the build platform out of the resin every layer?

From what I can tell so far, the print times are similar, the part quality is very similar, the build volume is very similar. What are the actual benefits here aside from the supports breaking off a bit easier? Will the optics still degrade after a couple of years?


#2

The build cube size is very slightly higher (in the Z axis) than the Form 2, but otherwise about the same. The volume of the 3L is, obviously, much larger.

I believe a wiper is still used, but I’m not 100% sure. It does work more or less the same way in that the laser forms a layer and then the build platform lifts a layer-width to make room for the next one.

I’m not sure build times will be comparable. The new methodology for LFS means that the LPU actually moves across the print and the laser spot only moves in one dimension. This suggests to me that the act of sintering one layer may take longer, but I am speaking entirely in a vacuum.

Given that the store page now says the Form 3 won’t ship until September, the prospect for getting any more information anytime soon is doubtful.


#3

Don’t know if the wiper is there or not but with the lift on print scroll of the bottom of the resin tray I don’t see a need for it. Basically the wiper was to distribute the resin across the build area. The rolling of the bottom of the tray should take care of leveling the resin in the tray I feel.
I thought the speed was faster?
Just had a call from FL sales and they are sending me a link to a live show on the Form 3. I’ll watch that and make my decision. Also told the Form 2 will be supported until 2023.


#4

No wiper, just a mixer that goes across once before each print starts. With the new LFS technology, there is no need for the wiper as the Light Processing Unit agitates the resin enough while printing. Printer will still fit on your desk as well.


#5

Everything’s on the main page:
https://formlabs.com/3d-printers/form-3/tech-specs/

Quality should be better than the Form 2, the smaller laser spot means that edges will be sharper, and the low-force layer separation means they can make some other changes that improve quality. The laser optics are also improved to reduce any glare around the laser spot and the laser is always perpendicular to the build platform so that the point doesn’t distort on any area of the print.

The overall size of the printer is a bit bigger but should still fit on a desk.


#6

From what I’ve gleaned the benefits are:-

• Smaller laser spot = higher detail.
• New optics, meaning the laser spot is uniform across all of the build area. New spatial filter also added for less noise, along with dust sensors too.
• Flexible membrane on underside of tray allows for wiping (with rollers) and curing, together, in one pass.
• Having such a lower wiping force offers:-
Less suction, less movement, detailed models may have higher chance of print succss during printing. I’d imagine this would also be considerably more pertinent if you’re using ‘flexible’ resins.
As there is less force, tree-supports can be minimised and thinner = less material waste, easier to remove supports, and fewer support ‘scars’ on the model afterwards.
• Form3 trays supposedly offer greater longevity in use.
• Laser system is easier to replace than on previous models.
• Form3 extends build volume by 1cm in the height axis.
• Wi-Fi support for remote usage where needed.
• A raft of design tweaks, additional sensors and usability upgrades over and above the Form2.


#7

It looks like the Formlabs engineers have listed all the things that are annoying about the Form2 and found solutions so there is altogether less hassle.

There is no optical window and the main mirror and galvo are in a sealed box, so print failures from having a dirty optical path should be very much reduced.

Any spilt resin drops into a sump at the bottom of the printer where there is a replaceable sponge to collect the resin.

The tray sensor is on the left-hand side well away from the resin input.

There is a cleaning mode that builds a mesh that will capture detached bits of cured resin in the tray, so having to filter the resin should be a thing of the past


#8

Well billb,

imho you’re partly right - but all those “solved” problems are issues, that aren’t as annoying as as the others uncured problems.

  • catridge sensing:
    The have a huuuge problem with tolerances. We’ve got 3 different Form 2’s and all of them don’t recognize the cartridges properly. -> what was the problem with nfc sensing the cartidge & tank??

  • real resin-sensing in the cartridge by weight or photooptical:

  • solve job-issues with the dashboard:
    why can’t I klick “Print anyway” from the dashboard?! there is no reason, why I shouldn’t be allowed to ignore the low resin warning (thanks to the bad resin sensing of the cartridge).

  • preinstalled testfiles for xyz correction:
    Why can’t they give you the option to print a little testobject, type in the resulting measures an get accurate prints afterwards

  • full-open-Mode:
    even if I have to spend a couple of bucks extra for the missed money with their super expensive cartridges, why can’t I use ALL features I’d paid for in the way I want to use it?!

One year ago, we were super hyped and happy with the Form 2, but there are so many tiny little bad and really annoying thing, that are exactly the same on the Form 3, that I wouldn’t recommand to buy the Form 3 even for the 500€ discount neither the From 2.

For privat use: go out an buy a Prusa SL1 - full open, good quality and much cheaper
As company: look out for some other, higher priced printers. (eg. Totem3d)

cheers Tim


#9

Cartridge sensing : they sense resin by weight in the Form 3

Dashboard “print anyway” : don’t know if that’ll be possible but remote print will, so I guess troubleshooting will as well.

Also I was told they made drastic changes to the the tank detection and resin sensing operations, which is another potential blocker on the Form 2.

I think those plus the reduced peel forces and thus smaller contact point / resin usage for supports are the main pros for the Form 3. Still now enough to upgrade from a working Form 2 sill under warranty IMHO.

As for the other points, most of these are unsubstantiated or not directly useful to the user. Easier to replace the laser : also looks like it will be much more expensive since you’ll have to buy a whole new module. Smaller laser spot : difficult to measure the exact advantages, detail is already outstanding. New optics / uniform laser spot : unsubstantiated … how much better is it compared to the Form 2 ?


#10

@JoeKuhn@Zachary_Brackin already linked to the tech specs page, but maybe it would be helpful to also read our blog post on comparison of the Form 3 vs Form 2


#11

It depends on your situation and what your needs are, but I haven’t had the same issues in terms of the sensors. Cartridges and trays are detected properly every time. While I understand why people want an open mode, one of the reasons I like the Formlabs printers is that I don’t have to spend time experimenting with settings to try to get a good result. Yeah, it kind of sucks that the resin is expensive, but I haven’t had to waste any and I know that I can use the Form3 immediately when it arrives.
Another thing that’s very important–getting high detail prints at a large volume size, the vast majority of other printers don’t use a laser and are limited by the resolution of their display system (DLP or LCD) whereas the Formlabs printers can get high detail across the full volume.
Just as an example, I had started a big project on the Form1+ and had a part that had to be split up into 12 pieces, which meant trying to assemble things afterwards. With the Form2 I was able to do that in 4 pieces and it made a huge difference.


#12

I do get the resin cartridge error—a lot. Like A LOT. I haven’t bothered calling Formlabs about it because I have two work-arounds to keep printing. As for the “print anyway”, that would be useful. As for full open source, it’s uneeded.
I can take a *working spent resin cartridge, fill with resin from where ever and just reuse it.


#13

I’ve said it in other threads and I’ll say it again. Give me a real open mode and I’ll buy a Form 3. Otherwise I’ll stick with what I’ve got.

I’ve had much better luck recently with 3rd party resins and tricking the machine in “closed” mode. I think the heater and wiper were added for good reason, and I still don’t believe the excuses that formlabs has given for disabling them in open mode.

I get it - if people buy machines you get a few sales. If they also buy resins then you get a steady revenue stream. But formlabs isn’t the only game in town for resins and never will be. Sometimes a cheap resin is just fine and sometimes you need a specialty resin that formlabs doesn’t have.


#14

So far I haven’t found any third party resin that gives as good of results as the Formlabs resins, so that’s a big part of it. I’m curious how well the Digital Forge resin works though, they’ve more recently come out with a resin they say is formulated for the Form2 but I haven’t tried that one.
The issue I’ve found is that the third party resins cure more quickly which affects the indirect curing more so surfaces that aren’t facing up will look worse.