This article will guide you through the installation of your Formlabs Form3 printer. It will explain the role of the different components and accessories as well as how to setup the printer.
For more information on the Formlabs printers and dental resins, see our dedicated Formlabs page. You can also visit our Resources page for the application guides of different dental materials, studies or instructions for use.
I. Printer components
- Resin Cartridge
- Status light
- Build Platform
- Resin Tank
- Status light
- Levelling disc
On arrival your printer will have a latch securing the Light Processing Unit (LPU) in place. This will need to be removed before connecting the printer to a power source.
To release the LPU housing from its shipping position:
- Locate the latch (A) on the LPU housing
2. Loosen and remove the thumb screws (B) and LPU latch
3. Store the thumb screws and latch with the original packaging. The LPU must be secured with the thumb screws and latch during any printer transportation
Please be sure to store this latch and the screws someplace safe, if the printer needs to be shipped for any reason you will need to reapply the latch to ensure the LPU is secure.
For additional information on removing the LPU latch, read Formlabs support article on receiving and unboxing the Form 3/Form 3B.
III. Power on
Once this is done the machine can be connected to power. The power port is at the back of the machine. You will also find a network port and USB port here.
The machine will turn on automatically and prompts will appear on the screen to walk you through some of the initial setup.
IV. Set up
Before printing can begin, the printer must be completely level. This built-in check ensures that resin is dispensed correctly and the printer does not overfill the tank. Leveling may be necessary during the initial printer setup, or after moving the printer to another location.
This is done using the leveling disk:
a. During initialization, the printer checks whether the surface it is standing on is level.
b. When the printer is not level, the dot at the centre of the concentric rings shifts out of place. A printer foot is highlighted with an arrow indicating the direction to turn.
c. Slide the leveling disc included with your printer around the foot indicated on the printer’s touchscreen. Rotate the leveling disc clockwise to raise and counter-clockwise to lower each foot of the printer.
d. When the dot is at the centre of the concentric rings and the four dots around it turn blue on the printer’s touchscreen, the printer is level. Start a print or continue printing.
2. Connect to network
Network connection setup is dependent on preference. There are three options for connecting the printer:
If you are planning on having the printer next to a computer that will be the only machine setting up print jobs, then you can use the USB cable provided for connection. However, you can also use an Ethernet cable or a Wi-Fi connection.
If you need to check your connection details, such as IP address, you can do so from the home screen by pressing the “Wrench” then “Connectivity” from here you can check IP address details and Wi-Fi settings.
For more information on the connection options, see Formlabs article on connecting a Formlabs printer.
There are three main parts that can go on and off the printer:
- Build Platform
- Resin Cartridge
- Resin Tank
a. The Build Platform
- Open up the lid for the printer.
- Lift the arm on the holder at the top of the tower.
- Insert the build platform and close the arm.
b. The Resin Cartridge
- Remove the tab at the bottom of the resin cartridge.
- Shake the cartridge well to ensure the resin is mixed properly (this should be done every 2 weeks).
- Insert the Resin Cartridge in the back of the machine.
- Open the breather valve of the cartridge as shown below. Leaving the valve closed when printing, could cause a resin spill.
c. The Resin Tank
- Lift the printer’s cover and remove the resin tank from its case.
- Remove all packaging from the resin tank before inserting it into the printer, including the foam inside the resin tank that holds the mixer in place.
- Align the resin tank side walls with the left and right tank carrier rails. The front and rear walls of the resin tank should hang over the ends of the rails and the tank’s resin fill spout should fit into the corresponding hole in the Z tower. The tank is not locked into place in this position but should sit flat and level.
- Holding the side handles on the tank, gently push the tank down and forward until it locks into the rails and is flush against the back of the printer.
- The Mixer will also need to be inserted into the tank, it should be magnets down and the arms towards the left of the tank as per the image below.
V. Printer Accessories
In the back you have the Rinse Station that can be used to wash parts in IPA. The rinse station includes two buckets, a basket to transfer parts and a tray. In the front from left to right you have the following:
- Build Platform Jig: Used if you have difficulty removing parts from the build platform to provide better leverage and a stable base to work from.
- Removal Tool: Used to easier remove a model that is on a PreForm generated raft.
- Scraper: Used to help remove models that are flat on the surface of the Build Platform
- Cutters: Used to remove supports from prints
- Tweezers: Used to remove supports from prints.
- Tank Inspection tool: Used to check the tank for any cured resin and to remove if needed.
With the Form Wash machine there is some duplication on the above tools as well as a Hydrometer and a Siphon Pump. The Hydrometer is used to test the concentration of IPA in the machine and the Siphon Pump is used to extract IPA contaminated IPA and add fresh IPA in.
a. The Hydrometer is comprised of:
- Tall Wings
- Short Wings
b. To calibrate, place the Hydrometer into the freshly filled Form Wash and slide the O-Ring down until it aligns with the Short Wings. Leave the O-Ring at this position and place it in the storage area behind the Form Wash. To check concentration at a later date put the Hydrometer into the device, if the O-Ring appears above the Tall Wings then it’s recommended to replace the IPA in the tank.
c. IPA can be taken out of the wash using the Siphon Pump. Remember to keep the wash level between the minimum (7.8L) and maximum (8.6L) shown on the sides.
VI. Arranging the workspace
Arranging the space in the lab can be tricky but we generally recommend where possible keeping the Printer and the Wash close together. As the Form Wash allows you to wash parts while on the build platform and keeping them close can cut down on any resin dripping off the parts before they are washed. Once parts are washed, they will need to dry and have any supports or excess material removed before they are cured. A small station could be setup to handle this, that doesn’t have to be near the Wash and Printer if you have space issues.