Formlabs Form 3 VS Form 2

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3D printing is very popular among hobbyists because they are getting cheaper, but there are machines made for professionals with more features and convenience like Formlabs Form 3 Vs Form 2 to ease your job especially when it comes to modeling. These machines are very convenient and easy to use with almost the same set of capabilities by being a close sibling to each other and if you wonder which of the two will be the better choice, let’s see below about what to expect from the two.

In this comparison, we are going to talk about:

  • What to Know About Resin 3D Printer
  • What are Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2
  • How are the Design of Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2
  • How are the Capacity of Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2
  • How are the Light Processing Unit in Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2
  • How are the Printing Experience with Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2
  • Formlabs Form 3 Vs Form 2

Resin 3D Printers

When it comes to 3D printing, most people probably think about FDM printers because they are the most common and also the more convenient option to start your hobby or interest in 3D printing. However, we also have resin printing which should be better for those who need better details and smoother results due to the material and printing process. There are lots to know about this method and their machines however because unlike FDM, it comes in several technologies which are similarly common.

As we all know, resin printing makes use of a light source to cure the liquid resin. The light source can vary such as from laser, from a projector, or LCD. In general the laser will be more accurate because it shines the part that needs to be cured one by one, the process almost looks like a laser carving but this time we are curing a liquid into a solid object. Projector and LCD shine the whole surface at once so it is curing per layer instead of per spot.

The difference is both DLP and LCD will be faster in terms of producing the printed object but the level of details is higher on the laser based printer. If you have chosen the light source for this printer, it is time to consider the capacity or print volume and this is extremely important not only for resin but also for all printers because they come with varying capacities. Make sure that your machine can work on the typical object that you want to make.

It can be tempting to get the biggest machine your money can buy but larger machines are always pretty expensive and it is a waste to not use them to the full capacity so we do recommend to match your machine to the models they will be working on. In addition, there are machines made to specifically work with their own material and this happens a lot with resin based or expensive FDM printers because manufacturers can design their machines better this way.

In most cases the proprietary consumables are going to perform better compared to third-party options especially if the machine is using a different mechanism than typical printers but do note that it can add the cost for quite a lot so make sure you have no issue about the budget or getting access to these consumables since we will need to buy them from time to time as long as the machine is still used.

 Formlabs Form 3Formlabs Form 2
Product Dimensions20.9 x 15.9 x 14.8 inches13.5 × 13 × 20.5 inches
Shipping Weight38.5 pounds28.5 pounds
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About Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2

There are so many good machines to choose from whether it is an FDM or resin-based printers. Not all of us will be satisfied with the same machine so it is best to get the one that fits in your application the most. If you are here then we assume that a resin printer is the ideal option and while not as popular as FDM for example, they are often the option of professionals due to the level of details and overall printing quality.

You can find resin printers starting at around $200 to those that cost ten times or more but it is highly subjective to the type of capabilities the machine can offer and what you will need from them. Usually expensive machines are more streamlined and more convenient such as what Formlabs are offering with many of their printers. This is not a friendly brand focusing on casuals or beginners based on the price range but if you need a reliable machine, there are plenty to choose from their collection.

For those who want to use a resin-based printer for its level of detail and quality but are hesitant because they are also messy to work with, the Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2 are going to be two great options to consider. These printers are very similar but also different and as you can guess, since they are close brothers, there are just so many similarities between the two. The reason why we said that they are not messy is because unlike most resin-based printers, they use a different resin filling system.

Instead of pouring the liquid resin on a vat, the Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2 are using resin cartridges so the machine will take the material and cure it on their own. This mechanism was first introduced by the Form 2 and continued to the Form 3. What sets the two apart prominently is the light processing unit which makes Form 3 can deliver an improved result from one edge to another, developed for its scalability. Read also: Formlabs Form 3 Vs Anycubic Photon here.

Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2 Design

From the outside these machines are similar but different and as you can see, they are coming with the identical fashion of orange tinted cover on top. The machine is almost ready to use out of the box because everything is already attached and just like with most printers, there are some accessories inside too such as the scrapper and clipper. The orange tinted dome is not removable but can be opened to access the printing room and we do think this is more convenient compared to the removable one.

We also like the control panel on both printers because they are easy to understand and easy to use. It is a touch screen with color icons and information regarding what your printer is doing and the menu they can offer. Unlike most printers where you have to pour the resin manually on the vat, we need to use the resin cartridge for both Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2 that we can insert on the back of the machine.

Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2 Capacity 

As it has been mentioned above, one of the most important factors to consider in a 3D printer is their capacity or build volume so it is best to get the one that can print the largest object you will be working with. In this case typically resin printers are smaller compared to FDM that we can buy with the same budget and Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2 are also limited yet the newer machine is slightly larger at 145 x 145 x 185 mm compared to the older 125 x 125 x 165 mm.

Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2 Light Processing Unit

Next let’s talk about what set the two apart or the light processing unit itself and being laser based, both Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2 are actually very similar from the outside since what’s changed is concealed below the printing surface. Typically a laser printer is using a stationary laser with a beam directed by a pair of mirror-toting galvanometers so it can trace the model into the resin but, the Form 3 is already using low force stereolithography in which it bumps the laser beams through a chain of single galvanometers.

These galvanometers are moving in the Y axis working along with mirror and parabolic mirror while also rowing the entire layer module back and forth on the X axis of the printer. This system is improving the laser’s ability to hit any point of the print plate which ensures the scalability and this is probably why you can get the same technology on Form 3L which is larger in scale. It is simply more consistent in result so the laser is similarly effective across the printing surface.

Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2 Experience

Lastly for the experience, both Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2 are good for their automation and overall convenience which are not always present on typical low-cost resin 3D printers so if asked what’s best from the two we will answer their ease of use. As for the result, these machines are also impressive when it comes to details and perfect modeling but it is also not without issues that you may find from time to time. The two actually work very similarly for the printing results but the cost of consumables used for these machines are more important to consider.

Formlabs Form 3 Vs Form 2 

Both Formlabs Form 3 and Form 2 are good printers depending on which seems to fit in your application the most. The prominent differences are their capacity and light processing unit which makes Form 3 not only being the larger machine in terms of build capacity but also the more capable machine to offer consistent performance across the building surface. Unless you are a professional who often prints, it is wise to consider how much we will spend during their use.

- The high-power-density laser is passed through a spatial filter to guarantee a clean laser spot.
- Optical sensors continuously correct for scale and power, and can even detect dust.
- Switch between materials in seconds with a simple cartridge system.
- The Form 3 offers industrial capabilities at a fraction of the price of traditional industrial machines.
- Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing uses a laser to cure solid isotropic parts from a liquid photopolymer resin.
- The Form 2 works as hard as you do so you can focus on developing innovative products and bringing your most creative ideas to life.
- Our material is designed specifically for Form 2 to deliver functional parts with a smooth surface finish that look like, feel like, and work like a final product.
- Switch between materials in seconds by replacing the cartridge.

Conclusion 

It is good to match the machine with your application or need as the choice can be different and between the two, Formlabs Form 2 is currently the more affordable with similar convenience and consumables so if the build capacity is enough, we will recommend getting this printer instead.