new capability for the FabLab

I'm a fan of Formlabs printers. I've used two of them. Hack.RVA has a Form1+. We have a Form2 at work.

The Form1+ at hack.RVA does not get a lot of use. It's workflow is slow and the results can be less than stellar. The Form2 seems to be a step in the right direction. From what I've seen of the Form3 it's even better yet, especially with surface finish on supported surfaces.

I still get a lot of use out of the Ultimaker S5 at work. Dual filament printing allows dissolveable supports and leaves a really, really good surface finish.


Additional benefit of the Form 3 over Form 1/2: the resin tanks last longer. They are reporting 10-12 liters on resin per tank with little to no degradation for all but the most harsh resins vs. the 3-4 liters per tank for the Form 1/2.

That said, while I recommended a Form 3 package for my work to purchase that includes a full library of engineering resins, the form wash and form cure (total package cost ~$8500), I think all that would be unnecessary for Hive13. I think just the base printer and 2-3 colors of standard resin would be enough to keep our members happy, which would come to around $4000.

Given that, I don’t really feel like that price range is justifiable right now. Perhaps with some planning in a year or so, but right now we have several large projects/purchases still in-process or pending. we have:

  • $700 for sheet metal tools still pending from ?December?,
  • $1800 for tables that all materials are purchased, but still need to finish the last 2,
  • and we need to put up a vote for funds to finish improving the metal shop and get Jim’s loaner surface grinder and mill up and running (not to mention tooling for them)

sorry, that was supposed to be $7000 for sheet metal tools, not $700

Hi Kevin,

I agree on not needing a full library of resin. I’d actually go a step further and say the space should provide a single standard resin. We make good use of the draft resin at work, as it prints very fast with acceptable surface finish.

I’d love to help with finishing up the machine tools. Let’s have an assembly party!

What’s the taper on the spindle on the Millrite?


Jim has not brought in all the parts of the mill yet, and I kinda assume he will want to lead the assembly. That said, it’s about time for another table build day, and we need someone to lead estimation, voting, purchase, and install for electrical for the new mill, surface grinder, lathe, and welder locations (there was some thought of putting new drywall for the bare walls in the metal room in this same vote).

I think Jim said the mill has R8 taper

I am all for a resin printer but I dont think we need to spend formlabs kinda money on one just yet.
There are other resin printers on the market that are lower cost and are a good introduction into resin printers to see if the hive will get a good use out of it.

Daniel, the flip side of that is that the form labs printers VASTLY simplify the process of SLA printing and are known to be reliable and easy to use. I saw a few models that were in fact cheaper, but none I would recommend to a friend. It seems all the ones with good reliability and the ease of use features are in the same ballpark price range of $2k-4k

The cheapest ones, in the $600-$1200 range, all require manual tank filling and replenishment, have limited layer height options, etc.

Resolution .025 to .035mm on the cheaper DLP printers is pretty good (which is the same as the form 3 at .025.) Also most people wont even notice a difference inb a .025 and .035 print.
The issue with the form 3 i have is majorly the self filling tanks, you can only use formlabs brand resin, as well you are required to change out the vats after so many prints no matter the quality. Its like ink in normal printers now and days. It’s not something I agree with for a makerspace or personal use. Filling a vat also is easier than changing filament on and FDM printer also.

I been working with Beam 3d, beta testing their new resins and printer, the Prism. Its a low cost self leveling bed… its about as click and point of a resin printer you can get. (still have to learn how to do supports and exposure times.) I have also been hearing rave reviews from the Moai 200 it seems to be the 1/2 way point of the lower end DLP’s and the form 3

The only benefit i see of a Form3 is the form 3L for its build volume.

The Form 2/3 do not require you to replace the resin tanks, you only have to do that when the prints begin to fail from degradation. they do lock the tanks to a specific resin to prevent contamination, but that can be overridden.

The Form 2 (and I assume Form 3) also allow you to use other resins, just not with the automatic fill (though, my understanding is you can put resin in a used up tank and override the safety to make it work, but have not verified that.) I personally feel that those locks that are in place on the Formlabs printers are a benefit to “walk-up” use, as they validate all settings and having their resins and tanks essentially ensures good prints. They also have, hands down, the best resin selection of any manufacturer I have seen.

I was talking about layer height resolution, not X/Y resolution. Formlabs printers can go anywhere from .025mm to .300mm depending on the resin.

Resolution: so was I.

Also if the Hive isnt providing the resin, I find $150 for a liter of basic gray resin (up 3x the cost of other companies) way too high of a buy in to use.

Thats good to know, but this part has me concerned: “prints will automatically pause for a manual tank refill after each 100 mL of resin.” Pausing a resin print will cause extremely visable layer lines at that point, and to give an idea of 100ml of use, I printed D&D minatures of owlbears. they were around 25ml each.

The Form3 has a unique tank system which makes layer peeling much easier. This means parts need much less support, which means supports can be much finer. This means less post processing. It’s pretty awesome.

At $150/L and your figure being .025L your parts cost you $3.73. That’s not bad at all.

With the Form1+ at hack.RVA we did not go through resin very quickly at all. I think 1L/yr or so. I could see that being different with a Form3, though.


yea thats pretty bad… especially when what I am selling them at is around 5 to 10 due to market value. (this is before you take out credit card processing fees, online market or vendor fees etc.) also when other resins are literally 1/3 the price.

So people can come in and print their own miniatures for 1/2 to 1/3 of what it’d cost to have them printed? That’s wonderful!

Yeah, def keep in mind Hive is not for profit. Ease of use and accessibility over cost imo

So is the hive gonna provide the resin? If not it’s too high of a buy in for “acessibility”

Hi Daniel,

Having members bring their own consumables is a relatively standard practice, whether that’s router bits, endmills, filament, or resin. I don’t see spending $150 on material and $150 on a resin tank to be very steep considering it gives you nearly unfettered access to a $6k printer.

I propose Hive provide draft resin and a resin tank for it and a standard resin and resin tank to begin with.


A buy in is the cost needed to start using a piece of equipment (also commonly used in gaming communities)
$150 (and you added another $150 for a tank, so $300) to see if you like a tool is a buy in cost I find too high when other options of the same thing allow for lower cost buy ins (as low as $25 for a .5L bottle that I found) as well as lower cost equipment. The fdm printers are 15 to 20 buy in the cnc router is a 20 class and some wood (another 20, so total 40) the glass tool is the cost of a rod of glass a few bucks there (Kevin can give exact quotes better than I can.)