Detailed Review Of Formlabs Form 3 3D Printer

Formlabs has been the brand that is well known for its stereolithography (SLA) printers and the Formlabs Form 3 is chosen to be the best resin based 3D printer of the year 2020 and it is no surprise once all the design, interface, print quality and resolution are looked in detail. Formlabs printers have evolved and Form 3 is the successor to the form 2. Let’s take a detailed look at the salient features.

Design

From design perspective the printers has an orange outer body with a black plastic base. The orange body makes it a see-through as well as UV-light blocking at the same time helping you to see what is printed while safeguarding the print and resins from ambient light.

High Precision Laser

The Laser spot size in Form 3 is much smaller and finer (80 microns) than the Form 2 (140 microns).

Printing Fine Layer Heights

The Printer allows you to choose between layer heights of 0.025 mm to 0.3 mm. The least possible layer height being 0.025 mm makes it one of the finest printers to produce very fine detail prints.

Performance

Prints are really smooth and geometries that have intricate details are possible. The easy to remove supports generated by the software allow for very tiny contact between the part surface and the support structures leaving no marks on the part. Prints like the gears and threads are possible. Form 3 prints are reliable and the software automatically picks the correct setting when the resin material is selected. Surface finish on the prints is very good with no visual layer lines making it well suitable for creating master patterns for other casting applications. Standard grey resin gives the best results in terms of surface quality than clear and transparent resins that may need careful post processing.

One point to note is that the printing speed is not very fast as compared to more commonly known FDM printers that print out of wire filament. But resin printers are generally meant for producing fine layer details than faster print volumes so speed is always not the criteria for Stereolithography printers.

Prints from Form 3 Grey Resin
Prints from Form 3 Grey Resin

Controls

It has a full touch screen console system that makes operation and control easier. Printer has Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB connectivity options for file transfer and print job monitoring.

Build Volume

The printer has a build volume of 145 × 145 × 185 mm. Although not as big as other technology printers like FDM printers, this build volume is not too small for precision parts.

Software

Pre-Form is the software that Formlabs developed for their SLA printers that has all the settings and options needed for creating the support materials, selecting the layer resolution and preparing the print. Formlabs dashboard can be accessed within Pre-Form for track ongoing print jobs; queue/pause/cancel prints or to get notifications for maintenance.

Formlabs Pre-Form Software interface

Materials

Form 3 supports a wide range of draft, engineering, jewelry and medical grade resins. Each resin comes with the cartridge. Most resins are tested for strength that is same and uniform in all 3 directions (Print X, Y and vertical build Z) which is one of the main advantages of printing in Formlabs printers if parts need isotropic properties . One downside being that Formlabs does not support refilling the resin and hence the entire cartridge has to be replaced after the resin is exhausted but this should not be a problem to ensure no dust enters the resin chamber or contaminate the print. Left over remains of resin needs to be washed as per proper chemical waste stream and the plastic case of the cartridge needs to be disposed as per local plastic waste guidelines.

Post Processing

Form 3 comes with the finish kit that has tools for safely removing the part and also has washing tools like tray and basket for washing excess resin in IPA (Iso Propyl Alcohol). Form 3 does not come with dedicated post processing equipment for curing the parts under UV light for better strength and have to be purchased separately. However, the Form 3 Bundle does come with Formlabs Wash for automatic washing and Formlabs Cure for curing the parts.

Finish Kit included with Form 3 printer

All in all, Formlabs Form 3 is a great professional 3D Printer. At THINKFAB, we offer Form 3 3D Printer at a high competitive price. Click here to request for quote.

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