Jump to content
Ultimaker Community of 3D Printing Experts
solid-print-3d

Form1+ Experience

Recommended Posts

In response to Sanders asking me to write something after I received my Form1+

So after Ultimaker announced they weren't coming out with the dual extruder, I thought I'd try another printer since I was in the market for another one.

I decided on the Form 1+. I have 2 UM2's which can handle the large and tough parts, so I thought I'd go for something that could produce highly detailed parts, even though I'd have to sacrifice build volume. I suppose I could split large parts and glue together if needed, but keep in mind, the resin is $163 a bottle, shipped.

Here is my first print. Both are printed using the same resolution. The part on the left is black PLA from my UM2, the one on the right is clear resin off the Form1+.

20150219 175636

Needless to say I was Impressed! The way the Form1+ prints just makes the layer lines all but vanish, and there's no boogers from retraction. An added benefit is that the part is super clear, and with minimal effort I can actually get it looking glass-like.Print times were probably a little longer on the Form1+, but not much so.

Price is a different story. As you can imagine, the black PLA part on the left (which is the size of a 9mm bullet) is very, very cheap to produce. Talking a couple of pennies here. I did the math, and the Clear resin part on the right cost just over 17 cents.

Now, you might say "Holy crap that's a lot more" but keep in mind that I have almost NO post process work to do on the clear resin print, whereas the black PLA needs about 2 or 3 minutes worth. Now, if I have to make 500 of these, that's 1500 minutes worth of prep, or 25 hours! I'd be happy to pay extra for the resin if it saves me 25 hours of prep work (even if it only saved me 10 hours, that's what $200+ worth of labor).

Supports are also amazing on the Form1+. The software automatically tilts the object to the correct angle. No, you don't print flat like an FDM). It then goes on to automatically add supports, much the same way Meshmixer does, but easier. You can even easily edit the supports, so if it places one where you don't want it, you just move a dot around. Super easy. On top of that, they're very easy to remove. Comparing it to breaking off support from a PLA print is like comparing writing a novel to writing your signature. OK, I might be overdoing it with that last statement, but it really is easy. While I'm on supports, I might as well mention how the printer generally needs a lot less of them. You can actually get away with a lot more on the Form1+ than you can FDM machines. Impossible looking FDM prints can be done on the Form1+ with minimal amount of supports.

Now for the bad. It isn't as dimensionally stable as the UM2. Both the prints have slits in them. The slits in the black UM2 print are dependably reproduced. Some of the clear prints fused the slits together. Not a big deal for this particular print becasue I just enlarged the splits a little so they didn't fuse. I haven't printed any large prints yet that need to have tight tolerances, but I predict more variation than the UM2.

It's also a lot more, shall we say, messy, than an FDM printer. The resin smells god awful, and if it gets on anything, it's like trying to clean maple syrup up. I can see how over time, all my tools are going to have maple syrup on them, which is a little difficult to clean up. You'll also needs large amounts of high grade Isopropyl Alcohol on hand to operate. The parts need to be rinsed in one container of alcohol, then switched to another and rinsed again. This is a personal preference, but I'd much rather small acetone spills than Alcohol spills. The acetone evaporates and dissipates quickly, whereas the alcohol just lingers for a while. The build tray actually submerges itself in the resin, so I have no idea how I'm going to clean that up as the resin starts to harden from natural sunlight . Probably just buy a new one, $99.

Which brings me to another down side. Operational cost. When I went to buy the Form1+, I had no idea that the resin trays needed to be replaced very often. We're talking 1 to 2 liters worth of resin, then it's time for a new tank, $60.

The cool castable resin is the same price yet only comes in half-liter sizes. As mentioned earlier, you'll have to shell out $99 for another build platform (before shipping).

And the last downside I can think of is the post curing. That's right, you don't just simply pull the part out of the printer. You pull it out, drown it in alcohol...twice, then you have to cure it with UV light. I used the sun (about 30 minutes to an hour) but if all your work is done at night you'll need to get a UV curing chamber or build one yourself. It's not that big of a deal for me, but it's an added step, and it looks kinda red-necky having crap outside curing all over the place :)

Unfortunately, My printer had to be shipped back this morning due to a laser malfunction. I've been assured that I'll have a replacement in 6 days. Customer support seems to be good. Unfortunately it broke when Boston was being hit by the snow storm so employees couldn't make it into work for days. Just my luck.

Still, though, it sucks that its only a week old and died. I've read several horror stories about people going through 3 printers before they received one that finally held up. Those stories tend to gravitate towards the original form 1, but it's something to think about.

In conclusion, I really enjoy the Form 1+ for it super-fine detail, clarity with clear resins, ability to use castable resins for metal casting, nice software, and overall ease of use (if not messy). It's a great companion to the UM2's, and would be a great tool for anyone wanting to break the boundaries of an FDM-only setup.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great write up! I'm sure a lot of people including myself have thought about a form1 at some point either as a companion to the UM or as a direct comparison. It's good to hear about your perspective from a UM2 user standpoint.

The print quality sounds really attractive for little detailed things. But the mess, cleanup and exposed chemicals make me think twice about using it for anything other than business related stuff.

Keep us in the loop if you do any more direct print sample comparisons!

Thanks for your thoughts!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i was seriously thinking about getting one of these for ages, but the additional costs are equal to hundreds of metres of filament which equals tons more prints on the ultimaker. 99 buck is like 400 metres of filament. for replacing a tray after a certain amounts of prints. and its on going.

also printing larger objects such as figurines, you tend to waste a lot of resin for the supports, sometimes more resinn than the actual model, so the bullet comparison is a bit in favour of the form but anything bigger and the costs get astronomical.

but with my newly discovered acetone dipping technique for pla achieving similar results for pla is as simple as throwing the bullets off the printer into acetone with a few seconds of light sanding on the tops and done. so im holding off until these printers are like 10 times faster.

also none of the waste is reusable unlike the ultimaker which you can send off to turn into a new roll, or do it yourself if you have an extruder. so the cost are waaay more expensive.

i would only buy this printer if you are seriously good at zbrush and want to print your beautifully detailed models. i dont want to sound rude or anything but printing bullets seems a real waste of time to me for the amazing stuff that printer can do.

besides. if you want 500 bullets you should just make a mold from one nicely cleaned up print and just use that. or just make a mold of a real bullet. much easier...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They're not bullets, they are sabot round prototypes (they are hollow and encase a smaller bullet). It's one of the first prints I did so It's all I had on hand for a comparison of a side by side for UM2 and Form 1+, but I think it demonstrates the print differences. Making a mold with the slits would be almost impossible. I was just making a cleanup time comparison with the whole 500 thing. Again, acetone washing takes time. My point was that I clipped off 6 supports, and the part is ready to go...period.

Yes, the Form1+ is definitely more expensive to run, but it opens up avenues that you wouldn't otherwise have with the UM2 alone, such as castable resins for sacrificial molds, highly detailed small parts, clean and legible text on prints, glass-like prints (with some polishing), and very nice organic modeling. The Form 1+ is not for basketball sized prints. There are also people mixing cheaper resins with form1 resins to lower costs. There are tutorials on re-coating the trays yourself for $10. I'm sure resin prices will go down, and Formlabs is purportedly working on a tray that doesn't need to be replaced as often.

I disagree that it's only for Zbrush experts. I'm designing 1/84th scale model railroad equipment for a client that just cannot be printed on the UM2. I've also seen architectural buildings on the form 1+ that has all the details of the building intact , whereas a hotel I'm designing for a client misses all the detail in Cura, but Preform shows all the detail. Haven't tried it yet, but it's a night and day difference in slicing views.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fair enough about the bullets, but the PLA print looks pretty bad to me, would you mind saying at what resolution you printed that bullet as i have never seen a print that bad come off my ultimaker 2?

And I hear you about the zbrush thing, the true weakness of the FDM printers are low diagonals, and overhangs, but cura is getting better at the supports not being so thick, and i have had great results lately especially with a face print i just tried.

I still find the size a bit limiting, i guess you would have to print things in parts. but i read somewhere that a nice full figure costs about $56 to print due to all the excess material using full price resin.

However there are loads of companies making cheaper resin now, one is maker juice which should bring the costs down by 2/3.

http://www.makerjuice.com/

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bullets were printed at .05. The only reason the UM2 print looks bad is becasue at each split it has to retract. If it were a perfect ring, it would look a lot better, and of course, the camera exaggerates things. Keep in mind these are 15mm tall, so there are quite small. I picked the worst of both samples (had to because the client took all the best ones). The UM2 sample has blobs from retraction were the splits start, and the Form 1+ has the supports snipped, but not razor bladed smooth, as well as the splits being fused (like explained earlier)

When I get the printer back from Formlabs in a couple of days, I'll do some pretty in-depth side by side comparisons.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update

As I said earlier, my brand new Form1+ conked out on me after 3 prints. Some sort of laser malfunction. Formlabs sent a new printer (different serial numbers...I checked :: ) and it's been running great for a couple of days now.

I took a look at some of the recent parts that I printed on the UM2's that didn't turn out that well. I tried them on the Form 1+ to get a better comparison.

Here is a gear I printed in red PLA that I just could not get to print well. I ended up printing 8 of these or so in multiple configurations, and even changed the pitch of the teeth to compensate for curling during the UM2 prints. Printed another on the Form1+ and it came out really nice first try, with original pitch.

20150308 122037

 

here is the side-by-side

20150308 122354

 

Another thing I wanted to test was a structural part. I've read some people having issues with tolerances, so I thought I'd try this little washer handle part to check dimensions. The rod fits like a glove, and the overall dimensions are accurate.

20150308 122053

 

Being an Ultimaker lover, I thought I'd demonstrate the real advantages of this blessed union between UM2 & F1+. Here is a little project I'm working on for my son. It's a 15" (38cm) Unlimited Hydroplane. There's now way in hell I'm printing the bulk of the boat in $150/L resin. This is where the UM2 shines... brightly :). All of the Large pieces are printed on the UM2 in ABS, but the UM2 just cannot print the detailed parts.

20150308 122634

This is where the F1+ shines. I was simply blown away at how small you can actually print. Here is one of the sideview mirrors. No post process.

20150308 122750

And the prop, which would not print on the UM2 unless I made the blades much thicker.

20150308 122612

I will note that for general model making, clear might not be the best color. As you can see from the prop, I had to prime it just to see what post process work needed to be done. Interestingly enough, the same primer I use for my UM2 prints is WAY too thick for F1+ prints. I would recommend a very thin primer as your not really having to hide layer lines.

So far I'm finding that where one printer lacks, the other makes up for, making these 2 printers a perfect pair.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just put the parts in sunlight for about 20 minutes. I live in Florida, so there's no shortage of sunlight. But yes, it is recommended to post cure in UV light, or "near ultraviolet" light. For the prints that finish at night, I wait until the morning to cure... seems to work just fine.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been asked how do the print times compare , Um2 vs. F1+

Here are the 3 gears I printed this morning. First image is print times in Cura @ .05mm layer height.

time UM2

Here is the print time in Preform

time F1

 

Interestingly enough, and I have no idea why, the F1+ actually printed the gears in well under 3 hours, opposed to the 3 Hr 13 minutes preform shows. More like 2.5 hours.

 

I thought this was just a fluke, so I loaded another, larger model. First image is the Cura print times @ .1mm layers

time 2 Um2

Here is the same model at the same layer height.

time2 F1

 

Half the time! I've seen posts where people are saying the F1+ generally takes longer than other printers, but from everything I've printed so far, it's much faster? I know there are a ton of variables like print speed I can tweak in Cura, but I like to keep the print speeds conservative so the part actually turns out good. Also, .1mm layer height might be a little fine-detail for a part like this, but it is a customer part that needs to look good.

 

Will keep you posted on further developments

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brilliant feedback, thank you SP3D!

The F1 was my very first choice of printer back when I was deciding to take the plunge into the 3D world. The reasons as you have stated, cost, messiness, UV post work etc were all the things I read about back then which put me off, and I chose the UM2.

That UV thing would bug the hell out of me ( come on, I live in the UK sun is limited lol ). It`s also odd how the F1 prefers to tilt your print orientation rather than leaving it flat.

I can see with the level of excellent small detail how the F1 and a UM2 would be a great combo!

Thanks for the insight.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sla printers usually tilt parts to prevent the part breaking the resin surface tension in a large area, which would produce a large motion on resin. This is not good on resin printers, so they tilt parts, at the expense of having much more support.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting and detailed write up, thanks SP3D!

I am happy to read your future posts about your experience and comparison.

It looks like, and I hope they will both continue to be a great attribution to your toolbox!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sla printers usually tilt parts to prevent the part breaking the resin surface tension in a large area, which would produce a large motion on resin. This is not good on resin printers, so they tilt parts, at the expense of having much more support.

 

Yes, there is almost always support material used, but it is entirely different than FFF supports. You're left with little dots...half of which require no post process and the rest is usually fixed with a quick swipe of an e-xacto blade. At first I was put off by it, but it's not too bad.

 

@solidprint3d, now that you have been playing with the f1+ for a while, how are you finding the costs? In comparison with the um2 filament.

 

I've done the math, factoring in 1L of resin and a spare tray for every 1L, so $210 for 1L. Apparently, with losses in post process, people are reporting getting only 750 to 800 ml out of a 1L bottle. So a conservative estimate would be about 26 cents per gram (1059g/1000ml). Filament-wise, if you spent $35 on a 1000gr roll it comes to about .035 cents per gram. So, 7.5x more expensive than FFF. Keep in mind, you don't print big bulky parts at this price... rather small fine detailed parts. I've actually got a lot of parts lying around and half a bottle left, so it goes a long way.

 

Brilliant feedback, thank you SP3D!

The F1 was my very first choice of printer back when I was deciding to take the plunge into the 3D world. The reasons as you have stated, cost, messiness, UV post work etc were all the things I read about back then which put me off, and I chose the UM2.

That UV thing would bug the hell out of me ( come on, I live in the UK sun is limited lol ). It`s also odd how the F1 prefers to tilt your print orientation rather than leaving it flat.

I can see with the level of excellent small detail how the F1 and a UM2 would be a great combo!

Thanks for the insight.

 

Yes, the UV post cure can be a pain, but what people are doing is buying the $75 UV sterilizing cabinets and placing the parts in there to cure. Supposedly, it cures the part "cleaner" than the sun in that the parts don't yellow as much, shrink, or warp as much. (I haven't noticed much warping using the sun).

I'm also getting the hang of the post process work and cleanup. I've dedicated a space just for the F1+ and it's cleanup tools. It's actually not that bad... I don't wear gloves or aprons, and I manage not to get the resin on me or everywhere else. Plus, I love that Dr. Evil mad scientist feeling you get pulling parts out of goo :)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK this is weird ??

Printed this tube (on right) straight up so it would make a perfect circle. Turns out, it's too tight... all the other parts in the assembly were fitting, so I thought "What the hell"?

20150309 135001

All the other parts that were in the assembly were printed at a tilt, so I thought I'd go back and print the tube at a tilt (print on left)

Sure enough, the part that was printed on a tilt is within a tenth of a mm from the specified part (28.02mm)

20150309 135318

The part on the right is nearly 1 mm too small!!! Even though it was printed at a more uniform angle.

20150309 135216

Will have to get into two separate mindsets... ultimaker printing (vertical prints=good) and Form1+ printing (vertical=bad)

I will have to do more testing, but this is definitely something to watch out for...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

from what I can tell, this technology is going to be geared towards industrial printers. I doubt we'll see a desktop version of this technology any time soon.

I'll post some more Form1+ experiences tomorrow.... It's been hit or miss lately, but I'm sure it's just me. There are so many different techniques to producing a good print. I don't want to just report failures because of my inabilities. :)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

20150325 120657

Apparently, my tray wasn't perfectly level in my cabinet and spilled $50 worth of resin everywhere. Lesson Learned there :)

as for the printer, I'm still having problems. They say you are supposed to use canned compressed air to blow the mirrors off periodically. I've been doing just that, but it appears that my canned air is leaving a residue on the mirrors. Looks like a purple film. I had to get PEC*Pads delivered to me from formlabs to clean the mirrors. Just cleaned the mirrors this morning and have a print on now, so we'll see if that fixed the problems I was having... which was basically "ragging", or at least that's what formlabs calls it. It's where the flakes of excess material hang off the prints and degrade print quality.

Another issue I had in the past week was one of my $60 resin trays started to disintegrate at the back left corner. I have no idea why, as I'm very careful with the trays. Luckily, they sent me a replacement tray free of charge.

Basically, formlabs has been great in helping me sort out the kinks, but with shipping times, and back and forth communication, it's taking forever to get to a state where prints turn out dependably.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a quick pic of the tray starting to disintegrate.

20150315 145556

20150317 144809

 

 

Here is another strange problem I'm having where the prints are hanging so far off the build platform they're being cut off.

20150319 122631

And here is a pic of the "ragging" and overall failed nature of the prints I've been experiencing. Keep in mind, I have gotten some great prints from this machine, and even some that didn't turn out great initially were fixed with sanding and post process, but I can't show those prints becasue of NDA's

Here I'm holding up a print that turned out great against a failed bed of prints. It's been suggested that I'm printing too many objects at once , so that's something to take note of.

20150317 150700

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's really informative, you don't normally see failed form1 prints, usually only super nice completed ones.

Especially didn't expect the degrading bin, what happens do the resins just eat away at it and it becomes brittle like gallium vs. aluminum?

Thanks for the info and updates!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Printing too many objects at once" what a load of BS. So economy of scale goes out of the window with the F1 then :O

Wishing you more luck in future mate, you really have had a lot of grief with that printer so far.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×

Important Information

Terms of Use Privacy Policy