I was also an “fdm refugee”. I had an ultimaker 2 that was no end of frustrating. Rarely a successful print with that thing.
I just got my moai… less than 2 months ago. When I first got it some of the “updated” parts were out of stock and the reseller (matterhackers) sent me the old versions to get me going. The old parts were a pain… build plate leveling almost as difficult as FDM. However… the new parts arrived a couple weeks later… and things have been smooth sailing ever since.
They changed the build plate to an “easy-level” build plate. It really is easy to level. Also the “vat” that stores unused resin was revamped to use this thin plastic called “FEP”. Another major improvement because it increases leveling tolerance from .2mm to .9mm. It only took me two tries to level the thing with the new parts, and I haven’t had to re-do it since then. Loads of successful prints.
Now, if you use resins other than the regular peopoly resin, you’ll have a little fiddling to do with speeds and laser power settings to get it to work well… and printing each part at an angle with supports takes only a little getting used to.
Parts come out looking pretty glamorous. I’m about halfway done with a DIY modification called “project tripod” (not my idea, I’m just building someone else’s plans) that appears to completely eliminate waves/llines in the print. The lines in a SLA print aren’t comparable to FDM layer lines. They are only at the surface, and are so tiny you often have to look for them.
There are 4 main drawbacks to this printer. I assume it’s the same with any SLA.
- Resin is messy
- Resin smells really bad. Some resins are better than others.
- Prints take a very long time.
- Resin is expensive. Peopoly brand is $70-110/kg depending on which kind you get. It doesn’t seem to go as far as FDM material - you get fewer prints per kg.
Overall, I’m very happy with my MOAI. I definitely recommend it. I’ve never used a form2 so I can’t compare other than to say that the form2 is firmly out of my price range. I wouldn’t be using laser sla if it weren’t for peopoly.
I’m about done with a 3d printed drone that I’m making. Turns out I had as much or more to learn about RC aircraft than I did about 3d printing.
That said, I’m still learning something new about SLA printing pretty much every day.
Edit: I think formlabs printers are a little less messy because the resin comes in cartridges. I can’t say for sure but I’m guessing it will be a lot like 2d printer cartridges. Cost goes up and usable material goes down. Given the choice, I’d take lower cost and more mess.
Side note: Obtaining the pure ethyl alcohol that is recommended can be a pain. I guess 100% is easy to get and cheap outside the US. I ordered some from a chemical supply company but it was super expensive. Next I’m going to try some 95% denatured from the local big box store which is very cheap. I think a gallon was about $10 vs $100 for the pure stuff from a chemical company.