The Formlabs 3D printers use photopolymer resin to print with. A laser comes up through the bottom of the machine and the UV light cures little bits of resin at a time. The machine slowly builds up your parts this way.
The Formlabs printers are very good at fine detail, and they really shine with small detailed objects that just are not possible on other printers.
The print bed of the Formlabs is 5.7 × 5.7 × 6.9 inches (145 × 145 × 175 mm). Keep these size constraints in mind when designing or choosing a model.
Never use the Formlabs machines without direct supervision
An intern must be with you at all times when you are in room 112.
All prints should be less than 100 ml
If a print is for research or for some other reason it must be over this volume please talk to an intern, although we reserve the right to deny any print over 100mls at our discretion
Always log your print
Every time you use the Formlabs printers
There will always be a screen open with the print log for student use. Simply click over to the sheet labeled "Formlabs *SEMESTER YEAR*" and input the log data there. All print log data will come directly from Preform and can be input before you print (time, volume, material type, resolution).
MAKE SURE to log as a success or failure when picking up your part(s).
You are working with known irritants
The photopolymer resin used is a known irritant. If it comes in contact with your skin it can cause a rash. These rashes become more severe the more often you are exposed to the resin. If you get any on your skin, quickly use a wet paper towel (you may add soap if needed) to remove the resin. In the case of contact with eyes, flush eyes thoroughly in the eyewash station located by the sink.
IPA (rubbing alcohol) is also bad to get on your skin as it more easily allows other materials to absorb through your skin. Always use gloves and glasses when working with these two chemicals.
Photopolymer Resin & IPA is considered HAZARDOUS WASTE.
Any gloves or towels that come in contact with the resin or IPA are also considered hazardous waste. Hazardous waste is disposed of in our hazardous waste containers pictured at right.
ALL GLOVES AND TOWELS used in the Formlabs process should be considered hazardous waste and disposed of in these containers.
In the event of a resin spill, inside or outside the machine, IMMEDIATELY notify an intern
They will help you respond appropriately.
Step 1: Prepping your file
Select a 3D model
Find an object you want to 3D print on Thingiverse. Other repositories include MyMiniFactory, YouMagine, GrabCAD, CGTrader.
Check for complexity of object (number of parts, size)
Download the .stl file
For more detail on design capabilities/constraints for this type of printing visit this Formlabs page.
Open PreForm software
Currently, only one computer has the correct software installed so that it can communicate with our Formlabs printers. Ask an intern which computer you should use.
Select a printer
Available printers will show "IDLE" and a blue dot next to their name. The tank and cartridge will show the level of resin (in this case fairly empty) and the type and version of the resin (this will be important in the next step).
Choose an idle printer that has the material type you want to use. Click on a printer to select it.
Select resin type and resolution
Now check the material and version and make sure it matches the material and version shown for your printer. Ask an intern to take you into room 112 and manually check the material type and version of the resin in the cartridge of the printer.
The resolution will determine both how fast and how detailed your print is. The lowest resolution is .1mm (equal to the highest resolution on our FDM printers) and the highest resolution is .05mm. Higher resolution will be more detailed but since there are more layers to print it takes much longer. Find a happy balance for what you need to print and click apply.
Loading and slicing your file
First, go to "File" and then "Open..." to bring in your STL file.
Once you have opened it simply press the button shown at right that looks like a wand. This is the auto option which orients your part and generates supports to ensure a successful print.
If you want to further fine-tune your print, the button directly below the magic wand will let you change the part orientation. The button below that will let you adjust support settings and manually edit supports. The button below that will let you arrange your parts on the bedplate and add or delete copies of your part.
For more in-depth information on how to use PreForm, free tutorials can be found here.
Preparing to print
Before you press print, make sure your volume is under 100 ml. Then you may ask an intern if it is ok for you to print. Once they give you the go ahead, you can press the orange button at the bottom to send your job to the printer. In this window, double check your printer and material type to ensure everything is still correct, give your job an easy to remember name, and then send the print!
You will then need an intern to take you into room 112 with the Formlabs.
Step 2: Printing
You will then need an intern to take you into room 112 with the Formlabs.
The next steps involve the Formlabs printer itself.
Check for debris using the wiper
Move the wiper back and forth manually to check for debris in the resin.
See the solid bits floating in the blue resin? That is an immediate indicator that the printer is not ready to print. Inform an intern of this issue and they will help you remove the solidified resin.
Check/ Install a clean build plate to the mount
Make sure the bed is clean and that the latch (the straight part in the middle of the circle) is pushed all the way down as shown at right.
Check the resin type to make sure it matches the job you sent to the printer
Make sure the vent to the resin tank is open
So the resin can flow into the build tank. Make sure the vent is open like it is shown at right.
Select your job from the printer's touch screen and start your print. In a few minutes, the printer will ask you to confirm that you checked the things we just talked about. If you have, just press ok!
Don't forget to log your print now!
Step 3: Post-processing
Removing the print
In order to more easily and safely remove your print, we have a bed stand/holder that you can transfer the bed onto for removing prints. Use the supplied tools to slowly pry the print off the bed, and be very careful where your hands are. Never push an edged tool towards your hand or any other part of your body.
Move print to the wash station
Once the print is removed, go to the IPA wash station (shown at right) and open it using the scroll wheel (push to select).
the IPA level is inside the lines printed on the face of the plastic.
Then you may add your part(s) and the bed to the wash station and select "start".
Move print to the UV cure station
After the wash is complete, move the part(s) into the UV cure station shown at right.
Select the appropriate time for the cure station based on the size of the part and resin type. For more information on how to determine this, ask an intern or visit this Formlabs guide.
Once your part(s) are cured, you may remove them (no gloves needed anymore) and make sure to finish the print logLinks to an external site. by marking it as a success or a failure.
Congratulations, you're ready for the quiz!