If you knew how is going to be your 3d printing life with Formlabs would you still buy it? Or go straight to another brand?
My experience with the Form 2 has been fantastic.
My printer is from the first batch of Form 2 printers made and it has not had any significant technical issues. My print success rate is very high, and failures have always been down to a bad tray, dust on the top glass, trying to use old resin, etc.
I have used most of the resins in their library. The quality of the prints is generally fantastic, within the limits of what SLS can do. Since I’m using the Form 2, I have to be careful of part warping due to peel stress. I’m waiting on a Form 3L at the moment, which should address this – both by LFS and by having a larger build area (more orientation options).
The resins were decent when I first bought the Form 2, but they had limitations. Over the years, though, the resin library has evolved significantly and there are now a bunch of great options. (I use Tough 2000, Rigid, Grey Pro for most prints).
If there is one thing FL struggled with early on, it was customer support: long spans of radio silence after missing ship dates, etc. Thankfully they are much better at this than they used to be, sending out status updates, proactively contacting customers when delivery dates approach, etc.
Anyway, my focus is on engineering and not on fiddling around with printer settings and tweaking supports until a print succeeds. I just want the printer to work with minimal involvement.
For me, the Form 2 has been a fantastic investment.
In the company I work for, in our department we have been FormLabs customers since Form 1. We have upgraded to the form 3 but are still running three Form 2s.
That said I seldom use the Form printers if what I need to print can be accomplished on our Raise 3D Pro2 Plus.
There are times when nothing but an SLA print will do but the vast majority of our print jobs are actually more suited to the Raise 3D FFM .
Would we buy a FormLabs printer had we to do it over again, I would say yes without a doubt. The FormLabs printers have much going for them and the company seems to be responsive to the users concerns. FormLabs are not perfect but I feel that they are a good company to deal with.
Personally what I like about our FFM printer vs most SLA printers is #1 the size capability. Our Raise can print up to 24" tall and we have used that capability at times. #2 lack of post processing necessary with the FFM. Anyone who uses a SLA knows what I am talking about. No need to go into the pain of dealing with the cleaning process. Even though the FormWash has been a godsend relative to cleaning before its introduction, it is still a somewhat involved and messy process. Buying, using and disposing of IPA. or whatever cleaning agent one uses, becomes a chore. #3 Relative strength and stability of an FFM print vs an SLA print. Both systems offer many products with which to use when printing and one can choose what properties they are looking for in their finished print but in general you get more “bang for your buck” with filament vs resin. And, with respect to stability…once again the FFM wins out IMO. Even though we have a curing set-up for our SLA prints, I seldom “cook” my prints due to the possibility of warping which seems to be the norm rather than the exception.
So, yes our FormLabs printers are a nice tool to have in our arsenal but I and others in our department choose the Raise 3D over the FormLabs printers for the majority of our prints.
I have a Form2 and form3 and a raise3d. I am currently making the spaceship from ET. For the larger parts I use the Raise 3d, but for all of the smaller detailed parts I use the form2.My form2 has been outstanding and the customer support from formlabs is very good.my Form3 can also produce some spectacular prints, but it does still have some issues with some prints. I would highly recommend the form2 .I have friends that have the cheaper LCD printers and they dont seem to be anywhere near as reliable as the form2. I personally dont think you can beat the quality and reliability of the form2.Hopefully the form3 will be the same once the kinks ar eironed out
Bit of a loaded question…Since Formlabs has been the only game in town for a while, at or below this price, it’s not like you could even consider something else. In today’s market though, I would still buy a Form 3 for business needs. If it were personal needs, wouldn’t even consider it and would just jump to monochrome LCD.
We have multiple Form 2’s and 3’s. I have had good success with the Form 2’s and aside from being periodically required to dismantle them to keep them running, they have been good machines. I’m not as fond of the Form 3. I like what it ‘could’ be, but having to replace $200 resin tanks after 1-2L of prints, inconsistent and slow performance, and relatively worse quality output is cause for pause. While Formlabs has been improving the performance and correcting many of these issues, the consumables are still an issue. As a production house I’m not sure if we will purchase any more for creating functional prototype parts. For creating miniatures, jewelry, etc., I think it’s a good printer in terms of output but the cost of operation would make it hard to monetize. All that said, we are shopping for alternatives to replace our fleet of Formlabs printers for something that is faster, supports end-use materials, and is more economical to operate.
Not a chance of a Form 3 -
100% serious when I say give it a year and ask again. That is a realistic estimate given the speed of progress to fix the problems . BUT that is assuming there is not an inherent problem with the the LFS tech that is causing the ripples and wavey lines and distortion that the Form2 does not have.
I bought a Form1+ when they came out. I upgraded to a Form2 when they came out. Now I’m upgraded to a Form3.
So yeah. I guess I’d buy it again.
I would most definitely buy my Form 3 again. In fact I’m thinking about buying the 3L. The quality and detail of the prints are the best I’ve seen from any other 3D printer in my many years of 3D printing experience.
One year ago when I started with the F3 I was very happy with the print quality in comparison to DLP printers like Photon S.
What kills my calculation a least are the costs for tanks and material.
Just only a very few month ago I did not found any alternative for Formlabs and its library of materials for nearly any requirement. The variety is still very nice and availability is also always given (if there products you are not able to get it is also not cool).
But I am working on model kits market and the material costs nearly destroy any profit. You can not sell anything for any pricing.
From the very beginning I asked for repairing costs and guys of Formlabs and my dealer told me that there are no problems with maintenance costs.
Well, my printer failed in the first 12 month and was replaced (thanks for my dealer very fast exchange support).
But always keep in mind that a machine might get damaged. I guess a repair would have costs hundrets of € and hard to finance that also beside the invest of buying the printer itself.
So for now I will check to leave the Formlabs cosmos.
Formlabs has great support, great availabilty, great free material samples to order etc. but very expensive at least.
It would be useful if the folks replying here would supply a few pictures of prints to illustrate their level of satisfaction.
I’m also in the model kit market, and over time I’ve realised that the more ‘model’ and less ‘kit’ my products are, the bigger the market and the better the margins.
All my online sales activity is based on models produced with an F2 https://www.videoaviation.com/ as a printer for master it’s excellent even if it requires some post-production. Unfortunately for me it’s not possible to directly sell the models printed with the F2, the problem has always been the supports, too devastating on the model, my buyers wouldn’t appreciate at all. I’ve many doubts about the F3, in my opinion they have not improved this aspect, I’m rather thinking of buying another F2.
I’ve owned the Form 1+, Form 2, and Form 3. I’d buy the Form 2 again in a heart beat. The Form 1+ and Form 3 I would not buy again.
I’m an artist by profession and its been a life long dream to design and make my own toys, miniatures, and other sculptures despite not being a traditional sculptor. In my career as a video game artist, I learned to model and sculpt in 3D. That, plus today’s 3D printing technology meant I could do what I’ve always wanted. I’m most concerned with high detail, overall print quality, and less post processing. And after doing my homework, I concluded Formlabs was going to be the best option despite the expense. I felt Formlabs also had a longer track record and better reputation with resin printing and in my eyes had better print quality over the newer less expensive resin printers. I even went to an event and got sample parts. So at the very end of last year, I invested in the entire Form 3 ecosystem, which includes the printer, Form Wash, Form Cure, premium customer service package, and a number of resin tanks and resin. I’ve had my set up for 10 months. And within the first 7 months, I’ve had four build plate replacements and the From 3 itself had to be replaced twice!!! The build plates had to be replaced because the there are side panels that would come loose and allow resin to intrude on the hollow space inside. Apparently it was a known issue and it took four tries to get a “proper” one. The first printer replacement was for a layer shifting issue. The second time was due to the inability for the printer to recognize my new/unused tanks and the remote fix instructions from customer service resulted in a damaged data cable and port. So overall it took 7 months before I was truly up and running! I will say that customer service was for the most part very good in terms of responsiveness and replacements, but at the same time I paid a premium for it. I wonder how things might have gone had I not?
While I still love the print quality and love being able to have this technology in my own home, all of those issues really soured my experience with the Form 3! And to be honest, its left me a bit gun shy to use. I’m always worried about when the next problem is going to pop up? So given my personal experience and knowing what I know now, if I had to do it over again, I would NOT invest in Form 3. I would invest in one of the less expensive resin machines to learn on, then upgrade to something else if necessary. At least if something were to go completely wrong, the investment would only be a fraction of a Form 3. While I have no experience with other resin printers, I must say that the print quality (from what I can see in reviews) and speed of some of the newer machines coming out is really impressive for the price point. I would consider one simply to keep the costs of materials down.
So is it simply just a string if bad luck? Maybe. But I will say that technologies like this and the speed in which they need to come to market, simply aren’t “perfect”. And like most things, nothing is. I bought a Prusa i3 MK3 a year or so previous and that machine had to be replaced as well (only once). Its also not perfect, it has its own issues too. I also own a Glowforge (hobby class 40W laser cutter), I love what it can do, but has issues too. For what its worth, all of those issues have forced me to learn things I probably wouldn’t have and in the end that’s probably a good thing. And I’ve really learned to manage my expectations
Good luck to those navigating this decision! I hope your experiences fair far better than mine!
Seems I am to stupid to do 3D printing…
First I would like to say that after having a form 2 the form 3 is a joy to use. My Form 2 developed dirty optics and that was a very expensive bummer. So, I got rid of it and got the Form 3 and as you all know, it does not suffer from this problem. The form 3 is a great printer, it is automatic and simple but there is pain.
The form 3 has difficulty printing on the side of the parts that face the build plate. We all know that and work around it as best we can. The Form 2 did not have this problem to this degree. Formlabs probably knows why this is, but they have not told us or offered a solution. I think the solution involves agitating the resin in between layers. The Form 3 laser carriage is very slow moving in the x direction compared to the Form 2 galvo in the x direction. They made this trade off hoping that the way slower carriage would never suffer from dirty optics and that much did work. To speed things up and make the 3 as fast as the 2 was, they came up with a pealing low force tray that enabled them to not have to mix the resin so often, I think, but I am not sure. Did they not know this was going to create the negative effect on prints we normally call layer shift? We call it that because that is what it looks like, but I imagine it is really a static resin issue. It also causes muddied out of spec dimensions on that build plate side of the parts.
If mixing the resin is a fix for this problem, why not give us expert level controls to play around with solutions. Some of us would be happy to play and much of the time do not care how long a print takes if we know we can get prints like the old Form 2 provided.
In my mind, the much bigger problem the form 3 has, is the nearly constant fear it instills about how much time is left with your tank! Is your tank getting old? Do you need to print your stuff now because your tanks going to be old next week? Do you only have a small amount of resin left and do want to buy another tank for that? Range anxiety. Blah blah blah, it is PAIN. All five of my tanks currently say that they are dead, and I should NOT use them. I would think Formlabs is working on this problem, but they have not said. They are probably hoping to fix this problem with another tank V3 that is not susceptible to the resins. I hope they do very quickly.
However, right now we need an interim solution. What if the printer had a camera underneath of the tank? Software image recognition could see as soon as a leak starts and set off an alarm. It would take a camera and some AI software to keep a watch for any liquid leaking. Everybody’s AI software could cross communicate, and it would be just that much smarter. I am sure they do not want to offer this kind of a band aid because it is a stop gap move that would be useless after they fix the real problem. It is also an admission to the problem. They are caught between a rock and a hard place.
I love the form wash/cure and highly recommend them. I wish the wash had the same software as the cure, so I didn’t always have to look up how long to keep things in the wash. The other thing that the form wash needs is a Bell or chime to let you know it’s done. It is a necessary to grab the parts and blow them off with air as soon as they come out of the wash or they will have blemishes from the IPA that did not drip away. The wash makes all kinds of noises and even though it’s sitting next to me I never pay any attention to when it’s done.
Tough 2000 is the most amazing stuff and now my favorite resin ever.
I previously posted about the ammo can that I put my form wash tank in, that thing works so perfectly and I never have any IPA loss from evaporation.
Who else has a difficult time remembering the name of the flexible vs elastic vs tough? They should have a more meaningful name for each of them. Flexible and Elastic are synonyms and tough is not far off. The tough 2000 is a great name and easy to remember. Maybe they could call the flexible “flexible sneaker soul” Sorry, just rambling.
We are pulling for you Formlabs, your engineers are some of the best in the industry. Please fix these problems or give us the ability to open an advanced mode in Preform and do some investigating ourselves.
I would buy the Form 3 again.
Currently Im the guy who has been thrust into the role of determining replacement equipment for our organizations 3d printing fleet. Currently we run a half a dozen FDM printers and have aquired a used form 1 to evaluate if SLA printing will work for us. So far the results have been fantastic and we are looking at a large purchase of SLA printers. Unfortunately we have had no success with Preform openFL. Our decision to buy Formlabs will depend largely on how well we are supported on this older printer. My feeling is if form cares to at least attempt to provide support on their products, regardless of age then they are interested in our business, if not there are alot of other manufacturers out there to choose from that dont lock their users to their custom software.
This will be 90% of my decision on a 10-15K purchase of a new printing fleet. so, to answer your question, It Depends.
Own Form 1+, Form 2, Form 3.
Form2 is good and I bought 10 form 2 in total and it helped my business a lot.
Ordered the Form3 on the date of its release. Received the machine as the earliest group of users. So far, not quite impressed by the Form3 performance. I literally tell my guys for an important job, DO NOT load on Form 3.
There are several reasons:
It lacks the open mode and everything is locked compared to the previous Form 2. It makes me have the same feeling as the 3Dsystems machines now. You will need to buy everything from Formlabs. No more freedom!
The printing quality is not impressive and takes a longer time. I mean if you never owned a Form2, you won’t notice this but it is true. The XY 25um resolution is kind of pointless( not the 25um layer thickness!). My XY 65um dental DLP machine easily destroys the so-called 25um resolution. I mean it is fine since the Form2 has a 140um laser beam thickness, I didn’t put that much expectation to see an SLA machine using motor steps to achieve 25um XY resolution.
The future of Formlabs. I mean the changes after it released the Form3 system are quite obvious. The company is trying to harvest its products by changing a lot of the good things inside its user community. Like I mentioned a series of system lockdown upgrades try to eliminate 3rd party accessories/materials. Oversell its product before it is even fully developed or different price tags for different industries (the 3/3B split. And the surprise launch of the 3BL). I mean it is totally reasonable since Formlabs took so much money from its investors. I am curious who are the people on board now and what’s the long-term strategy for this company moving head. The short-term goal is apparent, get the money back and build up a nice revene sheet. Then go IPO? sure, how about the Fuse1 system? or the form3L system?
The future potential competitor. China’s side has finally started the mass-production of the mono-color 4k LCD screen last year specifically for 3D printing purposes. It means the price will drop significantly to buy a 4K LCD 3D printer. You may already notice this from those small LCD printer brands. They will flood the market with the new 4k printers which will compete with Formlabs directly with Bigger Size, Higher Resolution, Fully Open Platform, and 1/6 the Price. You may say they don’t have the customer service, I agree with you. But you literally can buy 6 machines to get a good machine and still cheaper than a Form3. Will you at least give a try?
I won’t buy another Form3. I am waiting to see the new 4k LCD machines. For big size printer, I will stay with the industrial SLA with the laser from the top rather than the bottom. I have no good feeling with the Form 3L. It gives me the chill when you see a big print failed due to the layer peeling issue and you waste a $300+ vet (5 months lead time now) and hundreds of dollars worth resin.
I would buy my Form2 again. The engineering resins and quality of life features (ie self-dispensing resin) make it worth it for what I do.