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Form1+ Experience


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Posted (edited) · Form1+ Experience

Here are some tips and tricks that I've come up with after a year of using the Form 1+ printer...

#1 - NEVER use compressed air cans

#2 - Invest in a $10 Rocket Bulb ( the little squeezy bulbs that blow air using hand power)

#3 - Scrape resin tanks every 5 hours or so of use. You can actually scrape with firm pressure as long as the metal spatula is free of burs

#4 - Blow mirrors clean with the rocket bulb VERY often, and try no to put yourself in the position of having to hand clean the mirrors. These are first surface mirrors, and you're kidding yourself if you think you'll ever get them "factory clean" once you touch them.

#5 - Keep PLENTY of Isopropyl Alcohol on hand. Clean spatula and containers often. This printer is MESSY if you don't pay attention to cleaning. We keep 2 gallons on hand at all times, and 1 liter of 97% IPA on hand for precise cleaning.

#6 - Treat this printer like a MEDICAL GRADE UNIT. Never touch anything but the side tabs of the resin trays, the power button, the build platform, and the corner of the lid to open and close... PERIOD! Yes, you can clean the side tray rails once a film starts to build up, but generally speaking there are only four parts of the printer you should be touching on a daily basis

#7 - Be prepared for HIGH printing costs $$$. Between resins, trays, alcohol, gloves, paper towels, time invested in support manipulation, failed prints.... This machine is NOT cheap to run

#8 - When printing tough resin, sand the build platform with 80 to 100 grit sand paper. Be prepared for the first print to fail... In other words, sand the platform, start a print, and get ready to cancel the print. It will usually stick on the second attempt. Go into fine tune settings and adjust the build platform height to ~.3mm closer to the tray. Print with a thicker support base.

#9 - Don't skimp on supports for large prints, or when printing in tough resin, or flexible resin. It's actually easier in a lot of cases to file or sand a large support "nub" off than a small one ( as smaller nubs may cut into the part when they break away). This also means don't go too small with support diameter.  .4mm works fine for tiny little prints, but if it's a decent size print ( anything larger than 2") switch to the recommended .6mm or even .7~.8

#10 - Failed prints lead to QUICK resin tray failures. Eliminating failed prints will stretch your dollar when it comes to replacing the trays. We've had failed prints that ruined sections of the resin tray immediately, while on the other hand have had trays last for 3 bottle of resin

#11 - Spend a little time examining the automatically generated support placement. There's almost ALWAYS something you'll catch that can be done better by human eyes. Experience goes a long way here. Practice makes perfect

#12 - Invest in some form of post curing UV Light. We are fortunate enough to have medical grade sterilization lights used in clinics. The benefit, when compared to curing in sunlight, is an even and controlled cure. Especially noticeable in parts with geometries that want to warp. You'll also be able to cure parts at night. The drawback is it takes longer to cure. I can't comment on the nail spa type UV curing units; we've never used them.

#13 - Remove support material before fully cured when printing with the standard resins ( Black, clear, etc...) These resins become fragile when fully cured, and damage is more likely to occur when removing the supports from fully cured parts. We, however, do NOT remove the support immediately. The support material actually helps a lot in preventing parts from warping during curing. When dealing with tough resin and flexible resin, we generally let it cure WITH the support material on. These resins don't get "glass hard" so damage to the part when removing support material isn't usually an issue.

#14 -  Hollowing Parts will save on resin cost, but be WARNED. If you don't add a vent hole to your parts, the suction forces between each peel cycle will greatly increase your chance of failed prints. We plug the vent holes post process by applying liquid resin to the holes, sticking some clear tape over the hole, and orienting the part so the liquid settles against the clear tape. We then exposing to UV to cure.

#15 - When calculating print costs, be aware that 1000ml of resin will NOT yield 1000ml of printed parts. As a rule of thumb, we expect to get 750ml worth of prints from 1000ml of resin. Resin trays are calculated into our costs as well. Some resins, like castable, wear trays out quicker, but as a general rule, 2000ml worth of resin for 1 tank.

#16 - Large prints will wear out your trays much faster than several small prints. We've done jobs where we needed to print 3 or 4 large prints, and they tray was useless after those prints. Large prints don't allow you to orient the part much... there's no room to move the print around, so layer after layer, the laser strikes the same spot on the resin trays.... Calculate resin tray usage at a higher rate when printing large prints.

#17 - DIY Resin Tray refurbishing. It IS doable. We've done several. Some things to note: The SLIGHTEST amount of dust in your room/shop or whatever, WILL find it's way into the silicone during curing. We have yet to replace a liner that didn't have some sort of dust in it. Vacuum degassing seems to work a little better, but again, you'll have to make sure your vacuum pot is DUST FREE. We have not accelerated curing times in an oven, so I can't speak to that. I will say, for the average hobbyist/enthusiast, refurbishing your own trays works quite well. Here's a link to that http://forum.formlabs.com/t/how-to-refurbish-your-resin-tank-for-about-10/3340

#18 - Follow the recommended procedures when post processing the parts straight out of the printer. Put in alcohol, shake a bit, let sit 20 minutes. We are not afraid of chemicals, so we actually hand rub some of the prints while they are submerged. Once the 20 minutes is up, we raise the print above the alcohol container and use brushes to do a last "sweep" over the parts. Inexpensive acid brushes wok well.  We then rinse with a squeeze bottle of CLEAN alcohol. From there, it's on to curing or support material removal. We will then put the part BACK in the alcohol container and do a last hand rubbing. Note that discoloration of resin can occur if you are in a hurry and use compressed air to dry the parts. Water mixes with the alcohol and may turn the prints white. This can be removed in most case with more alcohol... go figure..

#19 - Invest In Pec Pads and Novus polycarbonate polish. You WILL eventually need these to clean the mirrors, bottom of the trays or the orange cover to the unit itself. Besides, thay are great products and find many uses for them around the shop

#20 -  Set an area up SPECIFICALLY for resin printing. This is a messy printer when used often. You will get resin on the counter tops. You will accidentally leave resin on your tools. You will fling resin when removing prints from the build Platform, or when removing supports. If you're a tidy person, you won't notice it at first, but over time, you'll notice thin sticky film in your work area.

There are more tips, like buy paint filters and filter resins after 20 hours or so of printing... don't store resin trays in their original cardboard boxes, keep printer away from windows, and the list goes on, but I thought I'd keep it to 20 ( you see what I did there?)

That's about it for a quick rundown. In conclusion, the printer has done exactly what we've asked of it. It's much more expensive to operate than a UM2, but simply prints parts that are otherwise difficult to achieve on the UM2. The detail/resolution is outstanding. If you'll approach the printer as a medical grade device, opposed to something like a table saw, then you'll have much success.

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