Why not use glass for the resin vats?


#1

This would make for better print quality, and encourage the silicon re-coating practice.
Also, after having an acrylic bottom crack due to the chemical aggressiveness of the resin (thankfully, the vat wasn’t in the printer at that time !), I realize this could potentially save me 3000$.
At this point, Formlabs should recognize that the vats are a week point in their ecosystem and provide a more reliable , economical and eco-friendly vat.


#2

FB feels they need to be light sensitive but that’s not necessary if you keep them out of strong light. The orange hood protects them so only if you remove the Resin Tray and put it on a shelf in open light is there an issue. Best to put it back in the cardboard box it came it. That’s light protection.

Yes, I agree they could be made out of something stronger, but, FB makes a lot of money replacing them. Sort of like HP with the printer ink. They give away the printers but charge outrages prices for the ink refills.

I’ve thought about striping a Resin Tray and using it to make a mold then cast them in a good resin.


#3

Sort of like HP with the printer ink. They give away the printers but charge outrages prices for the ink refills.

This just makes me hate FormLabs as a company.

It’s bad enough that the tank and resins are already crazy expensive and to add to this, the cheapest shipping method for a single tank is already an upwards of $18. Just to ship a single tank!

If you do a little research on FormLabs on sites like reddit or even on this forum, you’ll find a lot of people complaining about their customer support and FormLabs not fulfilling shipments in a timely matter.

If they want to go down the HP route, they’re going to lose a lot of loyal customers.


#4

No- they won’t.

They are selling the best quality printer for the price.
Like paper printers- HP does not make its money on the printer- they make it on the ink and paper.
You can whine about it all you like… but you are NOT out there buying $3,000 paper printers, are you?

No, you’re buying the $120 printer because its only a $120 investment. And when you are NOT using the printer to actually print- the ink costs you nothing.

Formlabs profit model is the ONLY reason any of us have such a nice printer. There was no way I was gonna buy an $18,000 printer.
And I don’t whine about the cost of resin because 1- other resin brands are only moderately cheaper and 2- I buy resin to Print it and then pass the cost onto the client- so I KNOW I am making my margin on every litre of resin.

Ergo- I am ABLE to HAVE a high quality SLA printer because of its low price subsidized by resin sales.
Better to be IN the game than unable to even have the printer.

As to glass tanks- MOST optically clear glass filters out UV light. its why you can’t get a tan thru a window.
Its also why halogen lights always have a GLASS lens- to filter out the UV light all halogens produce.


#5

All that I am saying is that, if they start nickeling and diming us for every little thing then they are dangerously on the path of becoming HP.

They are selling the best quality printer for the price.

My experience so far with the printer is definitely not the same. While it is a beautiful machine, i’ve had this printer constantly complain about faulty sensors and prints failing to continue after some weird error message 2 hours in a print.

When doing some research on said error messages, I came to realize that there are so many people online having the same set of issues. Even users complaining about a machine breaking on them right out of the box. This doesn’t scream quality printer IMO.

I would love to buy another printer from them or recommend FormLabs to a friend but now I’m a bit hesitant.


#6

I had the exact same issues.

I followed the recommended procedure and that fixed the resin sensor- but nothing I could do would fix the other issues.
After I sent them video showing the machine acting up, Formlabs finally agreed that I had a bad machine and replaced it with a reconditioned machine they verified was running at full spec.

Since then, aside from an occasional failure to sense the cartridge, This machine has not had a single print failure.

I hear people complain… but not the vast majority who have bought them… and thus far my experience with their customer support has been perfectly satisfactory.

I had a valve fail on two cartridges that resulted in a spill that the spill tray managed to contain. and Formlabs replaced the cartridges.

When the first machine was giving me nothing but failed prints- along with the machine they replaced- they sent a replacement tank and cartridge of resin for the tank and resin I burned thru just trying to trouble shoot the problems.

And I would also add this- the fact that they depend so much on Resin sales for their profits is a GOOD thing.
Because it incentivizes them to produce a better printer and to offer support for the printers the users are running.

they WANT the printers to keep running because they want the user to keep buying resin.

it does them no good to offer bad support and have users abandon their platform entirely.


#7

Check your charts pls. Even soda-lime glass has excellent transmission properties at 405nm… most types of glass do.

The sole reason not to do it is because it’s designed as a consumable.


#8

With a 250mw/cm2 laser glass is going to be no worse for power loss than acrylic sheet. Diffraction of the laser spot is a real issue as that will lead to inaccuracy. The thinner the glass then the better that will be.

The biggest single issue is the PDMS which works great for the first few prints but as it clouds it significantly diffracts and reduces power transmitted through it.

Whilst FEP is not such a good release medium as PDMS it is still a very good release material and it suffers significantly less from deterioration of UV transmission after time exposed to UV.

A good tank could be designed, but that goes against the business model of Formlabs and would reduce the revenue for them from replaceable tanks


#9

Are you kidding ?
Formlabs did a good job in making an affordable SLS printer, I’ll grant you that, but I’m certain they don’t lose money on it.
It’s just a bunch of low-cost components bundled together with an Apple-esque cloak.
The sensors are crap, the thing is loud as hell, and often has nasty tantrums, at least in my experience.

On the bright side, the support has always been very reactive, and I had 5 new resin tanks sent to me for free because of failing ones.
Yes FIVE shitty self-destructing resin tanks. The irony here is that, contrary to ink cartridges, third part consumables which have a glass bottom are actually better than the original they replace.


#10

Having used a Full Spectrum Laser Pegasus Touch, I am excited to use my F2 (all the parts should be here by the end of the week). They, like form labs, use the same consumables, so it isn’t just FL that is using this model to make a profit. Companies need a profit to operate. If you do to a high end printer that costs $10k to $100k, the cartridges only get more expensive.


#11

Yes, many companies use a wasteful un-sustainable model to make profits, and that’s why we are probably screwed as a species.
I can’t understand how some people can consider this acceptable.


#12

I didn’t say they lost money on it. I said they take a smaller margin than other printer manufacturers and make up the difference in consumables. Their objective is clearly to get USERS into 3D printing with their machines.

I waited 20 years for the cost of SLA printing to drop this low, and I don’t think they use the cheapest components avaialble.
because they profit on the consumables. they have a vested interest in making the machine run as well as it can for as long as it can because every hour of operation is money in their pocket.
It does them no good to have their machine break down, and then have to spend their profits repairing them- or have their users abandon them for a different printer. So I think they optimize components for a service life of 4 years.

Mine doesn’t make much noise- its whisper quiet compared to any filament printer… and I sleep in the room with the thing running.

The lemon i initially got made a racket- but that was because it was not right. It eventually tore its bearings to bits.
so if yours is that noisy- i think you might want to send a video to support.

The quality issues that you complain about I ascribe to the fact that everything you buy these days is made in third party factories- and not by the companies that design them and sell them. From Cars to spacecraft, it is not unusual for companies to find whole production runs compromised by a bad batch of parts- or some kickback induced substitution of a specified component with a cheaper component by factory owners, or even guys on the production line.
I can tell you how many containers of goods I have seen sent back to china because some guy substituted the lacquer we specced- with a cheaper lacquer that turned green without telling us.

So I can’t judge any company, really, by the problems that are plaguing all overseas manufacture.
I can only judge them by whether they support their users. And so far my experience has been that Formlabs supports their users.

As to glass tanks- I don’t see how glass would improve the product- the tabs that hold the tank down would not survive long made of glass and if your thinking just the optical window of glass… then there is no reason to assume glass would be less likely to de-laminate from the rest of the tank…or the PDMS layer that would still have to be there. glass is notoriously difficult to get stuff to stick to. and it seems to me that a glass tank bottom would be even more likely to fracture given the stresses of insertion and removal, peel and the user bumping the bottom when handling it.

Have you seen glass tanks that don’t need a PDMS layer?

And clearly - Formlabs attempt to develop a longer lived tank shows that they are perfectly willing to try and produce a more durable tank… I would venture that if glass showed any actual improvement in tank life they would have used it…
If they tested it and glass reduced some kinds of problems, but introduced others ( e.g. when acrylic breaks it usually just cracks… glass often shatters- a tank the cracks might only leak very slowly… but a tank that shatters would dump its entire contents in a second.

What I am saying is you have no idea that they did not try glass and reject it for very sound reasons.
It certainly was not over cost- since they could charge more for a more durable tank.

For example- I’ve been running mine for a year- with only the build platform it came with- I regularly sand down the platform- but have not yet had to replace it.

They could very well have made that platform much less robust and thereby had me replacing it 3 times a year.
so they are not exactly trying to rape us with consumables.

I think getting this thing to work, given that the resin has to first stick, and then peel, is simply a much deeper engineering challenge than you allow.


#13

I think you don’t know what sustainable means.

Its not wasteful to charge a profit on consumables.
EVERYONE DOES- its just that the companies that ONLY make resin do not have to support Development teams trying to design functional printers and all their accessories. The tooling alone for making the tanks for a Form2 would run around $150,000 in upfront investment. Not including the cost of actual design and development.
If their profit is 20% then they have to sell $750,000 worth of printers and resin just to have the cash for that one tool.

If Formlabs charged the kind of markup that Stratasys charges for a Connex- then none of us would have printers at all. And BTW- 1 liter of resin for a Connex costs between $250 and $350

The unsustainable business model is to make printers entirely unassociated with any one type of resin- or to make resin unconnected to any specific type of printer.

That is a race to the bottom- where each resin maker or printer maker can only survive by making their stuff cheaper- which eventually means lower quality.

When a company makes their own resin and printer… then THEY can better control and nuance the functions of the printer to maximize the results with the known properties of their resin. This means they can offer a better customer experience. And a superior performing printer.

I WANT my printer to be optimized to work with specific resins.
And that better quality result is worth paying a little more for the resin.

By the same token I have an epson photo quality paper printer.

I can put regular paper thru it if I choose… but if I am printing a photo or artwork and want the best quality I can get- using Epson archival paper with Epson inks definitely yields superior results.

My entire business is founded on the fact that I am not the cheapest artist in the field… but I am one of the best.
People who hire me once almost always hire me again. Despite the fact that they can get an artist cheaper.

Some things are worth paying a little more for.

If you can’t afford the resin and the printer- then the unsustainable business model is yours.

Everytime I put a cartridge of Formlabs’ resin into my Fomrlabs printer- I am making money.


#14

You might want to re-read my initial post…
By “third party” vat provider, I am mostly refering to Zvat.
They provide the service of replacing the acrylic window with a glass one.
This makes the replacement of the PDMS layer easier because you’re not so likely to scratch the window in the process.

If Formlabs sold a vat directly with a glass window, and perhaps suitable PDMS and instructions, it might not be such a shameless waste of material.

We really need to abandon that “throw-away” mentality.


#15

That would mean that most of us would be without a job…


#16

Ahhh… same old Bill


#17

I would agree about throwaway culture - but is there any real usage stats on the glass vat?

I don’t know how accurately I would be able to reline the tanks nor whether or not I would have the time to do so when a replacement tank costs as little as it does. An hour of my time is worth a lot more than the cost of a tank.


#18

What is the real cost of a tank if you include externalities ?
To be honnest, I never re-coated a tank, but I ordered a borosilicate square glass and I have got myself 4 tank’s worth of PDMS.
I’ll do the whole process, as described in this video and report honestly about it.


#19

I would expect it to be pretty low still, lower than making one myself especially if I include externalities for that too :wink:

One argument toward doing that though, would be that if we could refurbish LT tanks then the cost would definitely be offset by the fact that these tanks are unavailable, and the cost of not doing business is always bigger than doing anything else.


#20

If you’re recoating 5 to 10 tanks at the same time, it is probably going to be cost effective for most of us.
PDMS costs about 10 euro per tank, so you have 560 euro left in terms of hours to break even. When you’ve done it a few times, it shouldn’t cost you more than an hour to do it, so that’s a nice hourly rate.

I always have a few ‘lost’ hours in the month to do these kind of simple tasks. So it’s a nice time filler to empty your head.

(and you’re not wasting a lot of plastic!)

I think it can be done, but the solution I’m looking at now will probably cost like 20~25 euro per replacement sheet(you can’t simply do it like other printer manufacturers who stretching the FEP between a fixture, there is no space). Not sure if it’s worth it to investigate more in it.