FormLabs Form 1+ Next Steps

Diagnosing why a FormLabs Form 1+ resin laser 3D printer wasn’t working; I found the smoke trail of an electrical fire on its galvanometer (galvo) control board. This board is cooked in a very literal sense. Even though the printer is long out of support, I contacted FormLabs hoping for a replacement board. While waiting for a response, I took the printer apart to get a closer look at the damaged board.

It looks far worse from this angle. A lot of charred and burnt plastic at the base of power connector, which had melted together into a single lump. It is no longer possible to (neatly) unplug this connector. A surface-mount capacitor C20 has been vaporized along with some of the circuit board creating a small pit.

Holding the board at a different angle, I saw charred residue of smoke trail running all the way up the board. This fire was more significant than I had previously thought. This is good news and bad news. I had been worried that I cooked the device with a nonstandard power supply but seeing extent of damage confirmed it happened before I got my hands on the device. If it happened on my watch, I would have definitely smelled dead electronics, a scent I was reminded of quite recently.

On the downside, severity of this damage puts repair out of reach of my current skill level. I don’t know anything about how galvanometer control circuits are supposed to work. My electronics engineering skills aren’t good enough to reverse engineer this board and fix it without technical information like schematics and diagnostics procedures.

After this (very discouraging) sight, FormLabs got back to me: no replacement galvo control boards are available. Unsurprising but at least it didn’t hurt to ask. I briefly considered buying a laser light show galvanometer setup from eBay or Amazon. But even if I could interface them, I don’t know how to test and tune them for good resin prints. Given these challenges, I’m not going to try to get this printer printing. I’ll focus on learning as much as I can from taking it (further) apart.

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