3 Things You Need to Know About the FormLabs Form 3+

The FormLabs Form 3+ has arrived at Keypoint Intelligence’s US test lab

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03/14/2022

Lee Davis

 

The FormLabs Form 3+ has arrived at Keypoint Intelligence’s US test lab. Testing is underway, so you can expect to see all the findings in Keypoint Intelligence’s first Additive Manufacturing Lab Test Report in a few weeks. Until then, we wanted to tell you the three things that you need to know about the FormLabs Form 3+.

 

 

1. Cartridge-Based Resin System

The Form 3+ uses vat photopolymerization technology—an additive manufacturing process whereby liquid polymers are poured into a vat and are exposed to UV light—to create objects. While FormLabs isn’t the only device manufacturer to use this method, the Form 3+ does have a print cartridge system to simplify the user experience and help operators save time and money.

 

Cartridge-less devices are not automated and, thus, they can get quite messy and require more of the operator’s attention than a device that utilizes a cartridge system. When you create an object using most vat photopolymerization 3D printers, you must determine how much resin is needed to create an object before pouring that amount into the resin vat. Overfilling the vat can create a mess, as the resin will be displaced when build plate is lowered. Underfilling the vat means that the device won’t have enough resin to complete the object (and the job will fail). And if the object requires more resin than the what the vat can hold, then the operator will need to monitor the print and add more resin as needed. If the vat is not refilled in time, the device will continue to run, only without any resin to cure. All the time and material you spent printing is wasted, and you’ll have to start again from square one.

 

This is not the case with the Form 3+. When a job is sent to the device, the precise amount of resin is dispensed from the cartridge into the vat automatically, so you don’t have to worry about over/underfilling. If the object requires more resin than what can be held in the vat, the cartridge will automatically dispense more resin as needed throughout the print cycle automatically, so the operator doesn’t have to monitor the job. If the vat and cartridge are depleted in the middle of the job, the device will stop printing until the cartridge is replaced/replenished. This means that the materials and time spent won’t be wasted—you can pick up the job from where you left out.

 

2. PreForm Software

The Form 3+ comes with FormLabs PreForm, an application that makes it easy for device operators of any skill level to setup, manage, and monitor 3D print jobs.

 

PreForm can slice STL and OBJ files and automatically determine the layout and orientation of objects on the build plate. The solution is also smart enough to insert any required supports automatically. While PreForm can automate configuration tasks so novice operators can print without specialized training, it also provides expert operators with control over fine details. For example, an experienced operator might want to adjust the density, resolution, or scale settings improve output quality or reduce print time.

 

PreForm also allows operators to manage and monitor jobs from anywhere on the globe through the web-based dashboard. You can see which device is printing which object and how much time is remaining in one screen and receive alerts via SMS or email when the job is complete or the device needs attention (for example, the resin cartridge needs to be replenished).

 

3. Simple, Automated Post Processing

The FormLabs Form 3+ works seamlessly with post-print cleaning and curing hardware to help operators save time and money and ensure high-quality output.

 

Form Wash is an automated cleaning system, which submerges the object in an isopropyl alcohol (IPA) bath to wash away excess resin and erase imperfections. Form Wash is designed so that operators can transfer objects from the Form 3+ without having to remove it from the build plate. When the print is ready for cleaning, the operator removes the build plate from the Form 3+ and attaches it to the Form Wash. When cleaning is complete, the object is lifted out of the bath to air dry automatically, so it is not overexposed and ruined by the IPA bath.

 

Form Cure finishes the job. The object is placed inside the curing chamber, where it is evenly heated to a precise temperature and exposed to a UV light. This strengthens and maximizes the utility of printed objects. The entire process is run on a timer, so you don’t waste time and energy curing an object that is ready for usage.

 

Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

The FormLabs 3+ isn’t the least expensive option. If you’re a hobbyist or someone who wants to dip their feet into the additive manufacturing space, you might not want to spend a few thousand dollars on your first device. But if you’re in engineering, product development, manufacturing, or related fields—and you’re looking to leverage additive manufacturing commercially—then the FormLabs Form 3+ is a good choice. The device supports a wide range of resins, including high temperature, ESD, elastic, flexible, and rigid types. This makes it great for behind-the-scenes work, like rapid prototyping, machining, and tooling, as well as creating models.

 

This isn’t our first endeavor in the additive manufacturing space. While we’ve tested other 3D printers in the past, the FormLabs From 3+ will be the first device to go through our gamut of additive manufacturing testing. We are looking forward to releasing our findings this May during RAPID + TCT 3D printing show. So, if you see us there, come say hi!

 

We also look forward to testing 3D printers from other market leaders in the additive manufacturing space soon. If you are a 3D print manufacturer and are interested in Keypoint Intelligence’s additive manufacturing services, please reach out. We’d love to work with you!

 

For more information on 3D print, head to The Key Point Blog and The Key Point Podcast. Please contact pete.emory@keypointintelligence.com if you have any questions about additive manufacturing testing at Keypoint Intelligence or want to pitch us a product to test.