Overcompression describes a print failure in which laser diffusion or reduced space between the build platform and resin tank prevents a print’s initial layers from curing properly.
For prints created on Formlabs printers, overcompression results in one or more of the following visual symptoms:
- The base printed onto the build platform is thinner than expected
- The supports are significantly shorter than expected, resulting in failed prints
Any of the following factors, or a combination of them, can cause overcompression in prints:
- Debris/clouding/damage in resin tank
- Contaminated optical surfaces
- Insufficient space between the build platform and the PDMS (silicone) layer in the resin tank
Successful troubleshooting first requires identifying the root cause. Follow the troubleshooting steps below to isolate and resolve the print failure. The steps check for possible causes, moving from the most likely cause to the least likely cause of the print failure.
While the primary cause of overcompression is insufficient space between the build platform and the bottom of the resin tank, it is still important to eliminate other possible causes of print failures that have visual symptoms similar to overcompression.
Step 1: Check the resin tank
Any debris, clouding, and/or damage in the resin tank can cause the laser light to diffuse, limiting the printer’s ability to fully cure the resin.
- Inspect the resin inside the resin tank for debris using a Form Finish Kit scraper and a fine-toothed comb. Remove any debris and cured resin in the tank using the scraper and the fine-toothed comb, or filter the resin.
- Inspect the PDMS (silicone) layer of the resin tank for clouding. Excessive clouding means the resin tank needs to be replaced with a new tank.
- Inspect the acrylic tank window on the underside of the resin tank for dirt, dust, and/or fingerprints. The clear tank window must be perfectly transparent for the best print results. To clean the tank window, only use Formlabs recommended steps and supplies.
TIP:Keep resin tanks clean and well-maintained between prints for reliable and successful printing.
Step 2: Check optical surfaces
Any contamination, dust, or debris on the printer’s optical surfaces can cause the laser light to diffuse or weaken, resulting in a print failure. Contamination is most likely to occur on an exposed optical surface in the printer.
On the Form 2, the primary exposed optical surface is the glass optical window which sits below the resin tank and protects the mirrors from external contamination. Visit the interactive 3D Form 2 Glossary to learn more about the optical window and its location in the printer. On the Form 1+, the primary exposed optical surface is the large mirror, which sits below the resin tank.
- In the case of contamination, clean the contaminated surfaces using Formlabs instructions. Whether cleaning a Form 2 or a Form 1+, be sure to follow the instructions carefully because cleaning optical surfaces is a delicate process.
WARNING:Follow the optical surface cleaning guides exactly. Failure to follow instructions could result in returning the printer to Formlabs for repair.
Step 3: Check build platform height
If there is insufficient space between the build platform and the PDMS layer of the resin tank the printer will overcompress the layers of the print.
- Raise the height of the build platform using the Z Fine Tuning settings on the the Form 2 or the Form 1+. Z Fine Tuning adjusts build platform height to correct consistent, small-scale errors in part adherence or dimensional accuracy.
Contacting Formlabs Support
If attempting the troubleshooting steps above does not resolve the print failure, feel free to contact Formlabs Support! Please provide as much of the following information as possible when submitting a support request:
- Describe the troubleshooting steps attempted so far. (Example: “I re-oriented the model in PreForm. I also inspected the resin tank and did not notice any damage, clouding, or debris.”)
- Resin type used and resin lot number. To find the lot number, look inside the skirt of the resin cartridge or on a sticker on the resin bottle. (e.g. Resin Type: White v2, Grey v3, etc.; Lot Number: This will be either in YYYYMMDD-## or YYYY/####### format.)
- Layer Thickness of the print. (Example: 0.100 mm, 0.05 mm, or 0.025 mm.)
- Relevant .form files of the model. If available, attach .form files of the model to the support request.
- Number of previous attempts printing the part and any instances of successful prints. (Example: “I printed the file part2.form three times previously. The first and second were successful. The third one failed.”)
- Send diagnostic logs.