Hello, everyone! I apologize for the wait for the Form 1 Stress Test v.1.1 write-up. I’m actively working on it when I can between other projects I’ve been working on. The main reason for the delay is that as I’d been working on the write-up, I’ve also been printing other things, like test prints for prospective Form 1 buyers and further tests on the Stress Test.
Unfortunately, there’s some bad news. In my time with the Form 1 thus far, I’ve yet to get many successful prints off it. This includes prints both large and small, parts with supports built by the software and built by me, and with all different layer height and resin type settings. This is all with the Formlabs Clear resin, unmodified and using a clean resin tank (just had to mention this because, as some of you know, I’ve been dabbling with other resins and pigments).
The main problem I’ve been encountering is layer separation. I’d encountered and photographed this phenomenon with my first print but wasn’t sure back then what it was (you can see what it looked like here). After many, many prints that have had layers separate since then, I’m convinced this is an issue I probably can’t fix on my own.
Formlabs shows a lot of prints being placed at angles, even if they’re flat surfaces, and I presumed this would alleviate the problem if I tried to do the same, but this turned out to not be the case. Layers continued to separate as they printed, and supports were pulling away from the base. I’d also wondered if trapped resin was either exploding or imploding the part along thin-walled sections, but that couldn’t be the case because it was happening on areas where resin could not be trapped. Another thought I had was that large, flat areas were getting stuck too firmly to the silicone layer, pulling away from the already-printed sections, but, again, I don’t believe this to be the case since it happens on thin, small areas, too.
Printing at different layer heights helped some. 0.025mm happens to be the absolute worst in terms of reliability. To date, I don’t think I’ve had a single successful print at this layer setting. Every print I have done at 0.025mm has either separated from its supports or somewhere else, as though the resin isn’t being cured properly. 0.05mm seems moderately reliable, but I haven’t tried to use this setting too much as I’ve had quite a number of failures with it as well. 0.1mm has, thus far, been the most reliable. It’s the only layer setting I seem to be able to get decent prints from (when they are successful), and this is not the layer setting I had planned on using the most. While it may be true that at this layer height the layers are not as visible as with FDM machines, they’re still easily visible. With the newer version of the software, 0.025mm seems to print slightly more reliably, but 0.1mm fails far more frequently.
With the cost of the resin, I need much higher reliability on these prints. I can understand if there’s something obviously wrong with the print, like overhangs or areas that are poorly supported, but when the software creates supports for an object I know should print, I expect it to print all the way without separation.
I’ve contacted Formlabs about the above issues and will be in contact with them very soon. I’m really hoping that there’s a solution to this, because it seems the Form 1 is a very capable machine, and one that will be a key part of my future. Here’s to hope! I will post again on this subject soon. :)