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Printing vasculature nerves and delicate organic parts

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Hi everyone,

I have been printing for a long time with my Ultimaker 2+. As a result I am limited when it comes to creating detailed models that have extensive organic shapes like branching vessels etc... There is only so much supports and laborious cleanup can do. I have not been able to test the Ultimaker S5 with the addition of dissolvable materials. Knowing what I am after would you recommend skipping FDM printing and looking at the Form2? Are there Pros and Cons that apply to medical or organic model printing beyond build volume that would be valuable when considering what direction to go?

Lastly, I realize that it can be difficult to calculate cost, but what overall expenses would one expect to see from the same part printed by FDM vs SLA?

Any help, suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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I have extensively used the Form 2 as well as the Ultimaker 3E and other FDM printers. My review of the UM3E is below. In short, neither works well for the complex geometries in medical and anatomic models. The build volume for the Form 2 is a major issue unless you are only doing small parts like dental. Also, cleanup is a pain with support removal, resin cleaning and post curing. You will also run into problems like being able to remove the part from the build platform. Because the part is attached so tightly, often a spatula doesn't work nor does the Formlabs part removal tool. I cut an artery in my finger once and sprayed blood all over the wall because a razor blade is often the only tool that can separate the part from the platform. You will need to wear gloves for everything, and I know of at least two people who have developed skin allergies to the resin.


The UM3E advertises a large build volume for anatomic parts, but in my extensive testing I ran into about an 80% failure rate. You can see my full review of the Ultimaker 3E at the link below. I encountered all kinds of failures, especially with large parts, and I don't think the larger and more expensive S5 really addresses any of these issues except maybe having a filament detector. 

Really the only way I have found to reliable print anatomic part is to build highly customized printers and software. It took about a year of intense trial and error to get everything right. I took a really deep dive, including reprogramming firmware in Chinese (which I don't speak). If you are willing to go this route, I encourage and applaud you. FYI, if you have medical or anatomic prints and want to save yourself the headache, embodi3D has recently launched a medical 3D printing service that will print and ship to you. It is an alternative to consider.


With regard to cost I think FDM is clearly less expensive. Formlabs was revolutionary when their first printer came out, but the FDM space has much more innovation with open architecture. It kind of reminds me of Apple vs PCs in the 1980s - well engineered but closed architecture vs cheaper open architecture. 

Hope this helps and thanks for being an embodi3D member!

Dr. Mike


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Thanks Mike, Very interesting and informative review. I agree about the small build size and proprietary architecture with the form2. The technology seems to have stalled a bit there. I would have expected a form3 or 4 and more competition in this space. Having said that, I did receive one of their sample pieces and am very impressed with the quality. I am very impressed that you took on the challenge to come up with a better hardware and software for medical and anatomical models. Does that mean that you developed your own 3d printer? Will you be marketing or selling it? FDM, SLA? Very exciting and exhausting for you. This site is great, I look forward to spending more time here and talking with others about the process and results.

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