Formlabs Form 2 3D Printer

We have a "Form 2" 3D printer from Formlabs in the Fab Lab. It uses stereolithography (SLA) to create 3D objects from a liquid photopolymer resin by selectively curing the resin with a laser. This lets it print at higher resolution and finer details than our FDM 3D printers. Resins of a few different colors are available, although we may need to order them. Through a firmware upgrade, it now also supports printing flexible material, and materials for wax casting or ceramic firing.

Before using the printer, ask our Fab Lab managers Marcel Lahaye or Anke Brocker for an introduction. Jan Borchers can also help. While uncured (liquid), the resin the printer uses can cause skin irritations and allergies if not handled correctly. Wear nitrile gloves when handling uncured (liquid) resin or the IPA (isopropyl alcohol) used for cleaning.

Before using the printer, also read through Formlabs' Quickstart Guide: Getting Started with the Form 2.

Download and install the PreForm app from Formlabs on your Mac (there is also a Windows version). Connect to the printer via WiFi (it's on the i10 Devices network). Follow the tutorial in the app to print your first test piece. Before starting the print, open the cartridge vent on top of the printer, at the far back right corner. Use the ladder to your left to see it.

After printing, close the cartridge vent on top of the printer, at the far back right corner. Read the printed quickstart guides and safety tips for washing and curing in the Toolbox (clear plastic box stored below the Form 2 printer with the materials). For more details, including washing and curing times for specific resins, see formlabs.com/wash-support and formlabs.com/cure-support.

Take the build platform out of the printer. Close the orange printer lid again to keep daylight away from the resin in the tank, to keep it from hardening. Put the build platform with your print into the Form Wash station to clean it for the recommended time (usually 10 min), then let it dry for 30 min (on top of the closed Wash station is a good place). Remember to use gloves.

Carefully remove the part from the build platform with the removal tool in the Toolbox (don't scratch the build platform!). The Form 2 prints special support handles to make removing the build from the platform easier, see the Quickstart guide. Clean the build platform with IPA (isopropyl alcohol) from the container above the printer and paper towels, and put it back into the printer. Close the orange printer lid again.

Put your part into the Form Cure station to further cure it automatically to improve its material properties and make it safe to handle (15–30 minutes at 60ºC for the clear V4 standard resin, for example).

Finally, remove the support structures with the flush cutter in the Toolbox, wearing safety glasses. You're done!

Pricing

Prints are currently charged at cost of the material used, at 16 cents per ml of resin. Before you start the print, the printer will tell you how many ml of resin your print will use. Formlab's sample butterfly clip costs 2.24 €, for example.

Tips

Always wear nitrile gloves when handling parts with uncured resin or IPA on them, and always keep the orange printer lid closed.

The printer builds the piece hanging from the build platform upside down, slowly lifting it out of the resin. If, after half an hour, you cannot see that the structure is beginning to be built under the build platform, it did not attach correctly. Cancel the print and check Formlabs' Form 2 support site to debug the process.

 If a new cartridge does not seem to dispense resin, the rubber dispenser valve may not be open. See Marcel, Anke or Jan for help.

Before washing, fill up the Form Wash to the upper mark with clean IPA from the container above the printer, and check IPA quality with the floating tool in the Toolbox (see printed quickstart guide there).

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