The Form 1+ is a stereolithographic (SLA) printer. It prints objects by using a UV laser to trace patterns on the surface of a liquid resin tank. The resin is photosensitive and exposure to the UV light causes it to solidify and join to the layer below it.
- Always wear gloves when operating the Form 1+ and handling unfinished prints. There are gloves available for use on the back table. Although skin contact with the resin is unlikely to do more harm than mild irritation, it’s a sticky nuisance and not a good thing to have on your body. Using the Form 1+ also involves heavy use of isopropyl alcohol (IPA), which is yet another reason to wear gloves.
- Never leave containers of IPA open. IPA is highly flammable, and evaporates very quickly when in contact with air. Open containers of IPA present a serious fire hazard.
- There will be an unavoidable buildup of IPA fumes in the print room. Although the room is well-ventilated, it’s a good idea to take a break and leave the room if you feel lightheaded.
- Never mix different types of resin. Each printing tank is to be used for one type of resin only.
- Turn the printer on by pressing the circular button on the front of the machine. The printer will display the message “Ready to Print” when it is fully booted.
- Make sure there is enough resin in the printing tank. Resin is located in the bottom drawer of the grey cabinet. Remove the orange cover and fill the tank to the black line on the front of the tank. Do not fill the tank past this line.
- If there are bubbles in the resin tank, pop them to prevent printing errors. Close the orange cover as soon as you are finished to minimize the amount of time it is open.
- Log on to the Makerspace computer and open PreForm.
- In the Print Setup dialog box, make sure the information under Material is correct. All of the resin bottles are labeled with the pertinent information. If you didn’t fill the tank, assume the resin comes from the most empty bottle in the cabinet. Press Apply when you are finished.
- Import the .stl model you want to print by navigating to File > Open or pressing Ctrl + O.
- If you want, resize your model by pressing the topmost button on the left of the screen.
- Press the magic wand button underneath the size button or press Q to ready the model for printing. PreForm will automatically optimize the model’s layout and orientation and generate a support structure for the print.
- Click Send to Printer and press the button on the printer to confirm.
- Once you have confirmed that the printer has started printing, you may leave the room while you wait for the print process to finish. Remember to pop back in every now and then to make sure nothing is going on.
Finishing a print
- All of the supplies necessary for finishing a print are located in the black compartment below the printer.
- Open the cover and remove the build platform. There is a diagram with instructions on how to remove the build platform taped above the printer.
- Close the cover, and use the scraper tool to remove the print from the platform.
- There should be sections at the base of the support structure with outward-facing indentations. Slide the corner of the scraper into these indentations to begin prying the print off.
- Once the print has been removed from the platform, submerge it in a container filled with isopropyl alcohol. The containers already have isopropyl alcohol in them, but there is more alcohol located in the bottom drawer of the grey cabinet if you need to refill a container.
- Hold the black scaffolding in the container and repeatedly raise and lower the print into the isopropyl alcohol to soak it for about 3 minutes. Let the print sit in the solution for 10-20 minutes.
- Next, remove the support structure of the print. Supports can be snapped off by hand or removed with pliers. If you are using pliers, grip a support near where it connects to the print and twist outwards.
- Pat the print dry with paper towels or toilet paper.
- To cure the print, place it in the cardboard box and leave it under the black light for one hour. You may also cure the print by leaving it outside in the sunlight.
- Because the supports often leave small nubs or indentations, you may want to use sandpaper to achieve a smoother finish once the print has cured.
The Form 1+ is generally a very reliable printer. However, if you run into issues while printing, you can refer to the Formlabs website for guides on printer care and troubleshooting documentation.