Prototyping Three to Four Times Faster with Formlabs Draft Resin

Draft Resin

It’s incredible to think that just twenty years ago, 3D printing high-quality models on a machine the size of a paper printer was unheard of. The first stereolithography 3D printer, a brute of a model made by 3D Systems in 1987, stood at over 5ft tall. It was effective, but the technology wasn’t widely adopted.

Today, this has all changed. Desktop 3D printers are now considered a genuinely useful – and in some cases essential – manufacturing tool.

Formlabs, the company behind the brilliant Form series of SLA 3D printers, has been one of the key players behind this shift in stance, particularly among manufacturers and designers in areas of production where quality matters most.

Their technology with the Form 2 (released 2015, discontinued 2019) utilised an optimised version of stereolithography capable of producing models of greater complexity and intricacy than FFF with similar print speeds. It was a runaway success, becoming the fastest-selling 3D printer Formlabs made.

Form 3

Further improvements, of course, have since been realised again. The current crop of Formlabs printers (Form 3, Form 3L, Form 3B) utilises an advanced version of stereolithography called Low Force Stereolithography.

Low Force Stereolithography (LFS) is a massive upgrade over regular stereolithography because it boosts reliability, repeatability and print quality. Inverted SLA, as with the Form 2 and other SLA printers, creates heavy peel forces that affect the print as it separates from the surface of the tank. So, LFS has a flexible resin tank that bows gradually as the part is lowered to reduce the pressure on parts.

This improves repeatability, accuracy and reliability.

But it isn’t just 3D printers where Formlabs has innovated — they have also innovated in areas of material research, bringing to market a series of exceptional resins.

Draft Resin is a prime example, with the ability to print large parts quickly and cycle through multiple drafts in one day.

To give you an example of its performance, Draft Resin can print parts 20% faster than FFF / FDM printers using PLA and a low-density infill, and 40% faster with solid infill. The resin is also 3 to 4 times faster than Formlabs’ Standard Resins.

TACK Architects

Ryan Hier and the TACK Architects team have experienced this first-hand by utilising Draft Resin in their workflow. With it, they are able to print models three to four times faster than with any other resin while maintaining high quality.

TACK draft resin

TACK Architects is an architectural firm based in Omaha specialising in creating unique creative spaces. Founded in 2011, their design philosophy centres around craft, tectonic expression and sustainability.

Like many other architectural firms, TACK started out making models by hand but quickly integrated 3D printing into their workflow to print high-quality architectural models that could be studied and iterated quickly. They used Standard Resin for this originally but made the switch to Draft Resin in 2019 to speed up their workflow.

“Not only is the print time reduced, but we can print directly on the build plate without loss of quality, significantly reducing post-processing time”, says Hier, “The printer has become a double-threat: we can print final quality models as well as quick-and-dirty study models.”

The results have been nothing short of incredible. Whereas printing a model might take ten hours with Standard Resin, it takes two with Draft Resin.

This allows the team to use additional physical models and explore a wider range of designs.

Quality is exceptional too. Even at 300-microns, models have beautiful detailing and the resin is so well formulated it’s great for printing flat surfaces, curves, overhangs, embossing and fine surface effects and textures.

“There is no right or wrong way to integrate 3D printing into your design process,” says Hier, “Find someone in your team who is passionate about 3D printing and can look for ways to test the limits of the printer, calibrating the machine to your workflow.”

Lance Winkel

Plenty more professionals have had tremendous success with Draft Resin. Lance Winkel, a Formlabs customer and award-winning animated filmmaker and senior lecturer, uses Draft Resin to fabricate prototype parts for products he designs. His switch to Draft Resin was borne from the need to iterate prototypes faster — and the switch was seamless.

Lance Winkel

“Because of the unique Formlabs printer and PreForm ecosystem, there is no reprocessing necessary to up a model from Draft Resin to Grey Pro or other standard resins. Same exact layout, same exact orientation, and all one has to do is change resin types in PreForm, recalculate the supports optimized for the new resin, and resubmit the job.”

Key to Draft Resin’s speed is its print resolution. It prints at 300-micron, so it’s accurate enough to meet prototyping needs while enabling faster product iteration. Even at 300-microns, prints are detailed and accurate.

“As an artist, I am also beginning to see a future where Draft Resin can replace my internal structural modelling on large scale projects,” says Winkel, “while still printing thin outside shells in high-resolution resins for detail. The combination of this process is allowing me to substantially increase the size of my 3D printed sculptures and may allow me to potentially double the size of my finished pieces at roughly the same total print time.”


Like TACK, Lance’s workflow has been revolutionised by Draft Resin, with which he can create multiple drafts in one day. With a Standard Resin, the same print takes 3 to 4 times longer. The impact of faster printing has been dramatic, allowing him to build great products faster than ever before. The average speed improvement is 73%.

“Draft Resin can often be as much as four times faster to complete a stage. The same Form 2 printer using Standard Grey Resin completed a recent print in 12 hours. The same exact stage layout, but with only some slight print support adjustments to accommodate Draft Resin, finished in just under 3 hours! It means that four times as many projects or iterations can be completed by the same printer in the same amount of time. That is transformational!”

Compared to other

3D Printer: Form 2 (the new model is the Form 3)

Materials used: Draft Resin.

This information was first published by Formlabs. If you enjoyed this case study, you can find more like it at architecture and model making pages.

All images in this article are credited to Formlabs.