Published On Nov 03, 2016
This Formlabs Form 2 SLA liquid resin photopolymer 3D printer achieves an end result that looks almost indistinguishable from injection molded parts. The only big drawback is the cost of material since photopolymer's are incredibly expensive to produce compared to filament conventional FDM printers use.
▼ The Pros ▼
1) Very accurate with no material shrinkage like FDM.
2) Insanely high resolution that makes prints looks injection molded.
3) Prints bridge's perfectly flat with no sag or stringing like FDM.
4) The support material is very simple to remove with flush cuts.
5) Print speed at same resolution is much faster than FDM.
6) The printer is very quiet compared to FDM.
7) Swapping materials is very simple and fast.
8) The software package is amazing and simple to use.
9) The printer connects wirelessly making it simple to send jobs to.
10) Perfect layer adhesion with no gaps, lines or bubbles between layers.
11) Can print completely translucent parts with clear material.
12) Can print high temp (flame) resistant parts with certain resins.
13) Room temp and humidity don't impact performance like FDM.
14) Materials are perfectly calibrated to the printer, no need to play with temps, speeds, etc like with FDM.
15) Can be set to an open mode to work with 3rd party resins (cheaper alternatives)
16) Highly repeatable printing, once you get a model setup right it will print the same over and over without deviation like FDM.
17) Printed parts are completely solid, no weak spots between layers like FDM
18) Frequent software and firmware updates to further improve printing performance. I've had 3 updates since I received the printer.
19) Machine tracks material use and automatically reloads and refills tank to ensure when you start a print you know it will finish.
20) You can print absolutely tiny things with massive detail. See my instagram for some example pictures.
▼ The Cons ▼
1) The material is massively expensive ranging from $150-$450 per cartridge (1L). For comparison FDM equivalent would be $30-$80 for 1kg roll.
2) You must clean prints with alcohol and UV cure them after printing (time consuming + extra consumable).
3) You need to use gloves when handling parts coated in resin.
4) The tanks wear out over time and must be replaced (~$60 USD).
5) Cleaning up after a failed print can be time-consuming if it goes really wrong.
7) The software will sometimes miss support on complex models so you need to manually check your layers before committing to a print.
8) More waste byproducts since you throw out cartridges, tanks and support material since it cannot be recycled.
9) After you experience an SLA print you'll struggle going back to your FDM printer even though it's cheaper to print on.
10) Your friends and family will hassle you to print them figures for their table top games like D&D and Warhammer. Not even kidding on this one.
11) Small build volume compared to similarly priced FDM printers however very large compared to other SLA printers. I will still keep my FDM printers around for printing very large stuff that doesn't require amazing detail.
▼ XBOX One Controller CAD Model ▼
^ - modified top plate to remove duplicate surface and printed
^^ - Have not tested to make sure it fits on controller just yet, print at your own risk until I make that video.
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▼ Questions & Answers ▼
Q) How durable is the material?
A) Depends on which material you use, see the library of materials on formlabs.com website including some crazy materials like one that can withstand high heat, something FDM materials can't do.
Q) Why not just print everything on this and sell your FDM printers?
A) Cost of material...