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XFAB User Log - Review, Insights, Feedback
 DWS XFAB   Started by Eddie   2017-06-03 18:54:43 +01:00   Comments: 5    Viewed: 2349

  1. Eddie
    Eddie Member

    Last week, my new Xfab printer arrived from IMaker - very exciting being able to print larger pieces than usual! The 180mm x 180mm build area was a big selling point for me and I hope to fill this thread with awesome images of prints.

    This thread aims to be an unbiased review of the XFAB printer, as honestly there is nothing online in the way of customer user reviews, which I could find.

    Some background about me as a user:
    I'm lucky enough to have had more experience with resin 3D printers than the average user and I would consider myself quite experienced.
    I have been DLP / SLA 3D printing for around 8 years now, following Junior Veloso's blogs and guides in the early days when DLP printing became attainable. Over the years, I have built resin printers from parts and also used them straight out the box. I have used 10 different types of printer and I mod most printers I use in one way or another. My BSc degree involved a research project on the limitations of DLP 3D printing.
    So I'd like to think im in a good enough position to review and give insights on the XFAB :)



    XFAB initial impressions:



    • Sturdy construction. This is a good initial sigh, as to get good accuracy; there needs to be 0 wobble between the horizontal vat and the vertical lead screw /rails. The lead screw on the XFAB is serious (and rightly so, for reasons I will write about later!) 

    • Large size! There is a lot of excess space and the machine is big. Bigger than i expected from a DLP machine with 180mm area This size is needed due to the tank translation system where each print will move from one end of the tank to the other to use the full area of the vat, as well as from the resin cartridge squeezing mechanism (who’s operation doubles as the TTS operation). There is a lot of empty space on this machine.

    • It wont open? Oh wait, the lid can only be opened after installing Fictor onto a PC, entering and registering your printer and plugging it in. So far this has proved to be a small pain as the lid cant be opened to access the print or tank to do maintenance or mix resin etc, without booting on the PC and opening Fictor.

    • No internal storage. When printing, the printer reads the file (STL or Fictor file) directly from the source PC. It does not slice the file and load slices into the printer before printing. This has caused some problems where if connection is lost with the PC (USB cable jogged for example) then the printer will freeze. Also at first I did not know that it was continually reading the file from the file source, as it printed. So I had loaded the STL file onto a USB from my main graphics PC, plugged that into the printer-controller PC and the XFAB read the file from the USB as it printed - which is far from reliable over an 18 hour print! Needless to say I had some print freezes because of this also before realising the slicing was continuas as it printed. Always transfer files onto the PC desktop and load them into fictor from there.

    • Lacking settings. There are no settings to adjust. Shockingly the user has control of nothing! This may be good for some people, some people may think it is great that all the technical aspect is taken out of their hands. But not for me, coming from a DIY DLP printing background. I thought the Form 2 was bad for this! But the XFAB takes things to a whole new level, default is default, the user controls nothing. We really need an "advanced mode" to access print settings and achieve better results. Sure, keep things behind the scenes if a user selects "basic mode". But not having access to the most fundamental print settings to adjust and improve print results, is frustrating.

    • Genius one point auto levelling system! At the start of every print, the machine auto levels. As there is no instructions on what is going on during this stage, the first time I was a little confused why the build table is being rammed into the vat. But all becomes clear after running the process and the XFAB achieved perfect level every time.



    Next, I'll go into first prints and a review of operation. :)
    Eddie, 2017-06-03 18:54:43 +01:00






  2. Hi Eddie

    I recieved my x-fab from Italy 3 weeks ago, in the first time y maked the registered the printer and all that. So, I printed well only once, then never again. I dont know what im doing wrong, as you says it is all very automatic. The plataform goes up and down, , the software Nauta indicates that is printing properly, but after 2 hours is nothing under the plataform.  I dont know what to do!!, Please tell me what you suggest me to do.  Thanks!! and gretings from Chile
    Ximena Toledo, 2017-06-06 06:14:07 +01:00
  3. Eddie
    Eddie Member

    Hi Ximena,

    OK, 4 things to check:



    1. Is the file you are loading in have the base plate zeroed to Z=0 perfectly? I noticed if loading in STL files, the software does not zero them automatically.

    2. Is the base plate printed on the platform, but nothing else? If you have a baseplate, ignore the point above and it will be that you need to increase the size and amount of supports for your model. Or-

    3. Are you calibrating the Z level of the platform correctly? You loosen the lever before a print so the platform can move freely, then tighten after it has been pushed into the vat? Having the platform lose is important and i used some light machine oil to lubricate this mechanism, which puts less stress on the vat when calibrating level.

    4. Mix your resin before printing. If all the pigment has settled to the bottom of the vat, this will cause problems with the base layer adhering to the build plate. There is no agitator in the Xfab, so you need to do this after each print.



    I hope that helps :)

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    The process of using the DWS software and setting up prints is overall good. We have two pieces of software, Nauta and Fictor.

    Nauta is stable, seemingly bug-free and easy to use, although at first I did not use Nauta, in favour of manually placing supports in my old software, like I have always done- this was a mistake with the Xfab, as it really does need the auto support tools in Nauta. Mainly since the Xfab needs a lot of supports to print well!
    The learning curve for making supports on Nauta is around 30 minutes, then it flows like second nature. The support generation tools are good and it already is my second favourite support generation and print setup software which I have used :D Good job DWS

    Fictor on the other hand, which controls the printer is not stable, bug free or intelligent. The biggest points of contention for me are:



    • The lack of settings to edit on Fictor. Slice thickness? Laser Power? Laser travel speed? Aproach velocity? We need an advanced mode which gives access to these kind of settings. A lot of users will be happy all the control is taken away from them and left to Fictor to work it out. But I have always tweaked settings and adjusted the parameters in order to eventually improve printing results. Print results will vary depending on temperature, humidity, resin age etc - and I want to access the settings to balance the parameters against the external factors that fictor does not account for.

    • Crashes. The laptop I am using at first had power saving settings enabled - not any more! Not even switching the screen off and having a screensaver. After the laptop switches the screen off or starts a screensaver, touching it to awaken it will crash Fictor.



    Now as the Xfab has no internals storage (I mentioned this before) crashing Fictor will result in a frozen Xfab and a ruined print, which is especially annoying when 14 hours into a print - like the above image!
    I am currently working this through with IMakr and DWS and will be examining the log files today. But not being able to use this laptop for 18 hours while the XFab is printing, is a bit annoying. The crash occurs after exiting the screensaver, the print continues if the screensaver is on (until it is stopped). Bottom line, I have tried all sorts of things to fix this and the only way around it was disabling all power saving options and screensavers - incoming screen burn for my laptop until this is patched.



    • Intolerant. If the STL model is out of bounds, the Xfab wont print. Sometimes i place the base below Z=0 or some supports will protrude below the base. Perhaps the STL is not centred to XY and needs to be moved to the centre - error, wont print. I wish Fictor would trust the user more and allow the 3D file to be moved to XY =0 or to ignore that some of my supports are below Z=0 - override and print anyway? There are no real ways to change anything in Fictor, so 100% of setup should be done in another software before hand. Perhaps I will get used to it...



    Next, I'll go over the print process and hardware of the Xfab.

    Eddie, 2017-06-06 09:42:37 +01:00
  4. Hi Eddie

    Thank you ver much for all, i will try to print again today, I'll light a candle to a saint!!

    Ximena
    Ximena Toledo, 2017-06-08 17:34:35 +01:00





  5. Nice to see someone on the forum using an XFAB machine. It interesting to see that another XFAB user experienced the same problem that I have just experienced and that is after a 2 hour print there was nothing on the print table. I have recently bought a new resin tray and new resin for the machine and hoping that I would get a good print after my other ones that failed due to fogging of the PDMS layer in the resin tank. You mentioned that the one cause of a print fail could be the object not being zeroed to the print bed. Well I loaded my failed print into Nuata and found that the Z position was 2.538 despite the fact that the object is clearly sitting on the grid as can be seen in the image. Could this be the reason for the failed print. Any feedback would be great.
    Thomas Clarke, 2018-07-01 23:23:37 +01:00
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