How To Clean 3D Printer Bed?

A 3D printed part may fail for various reasons, most usual among them is part losing contact with the print bed. This is majorly due to the improper bed adhesion affected by an uncleaned print bed. Thus, its to know how to clean 3D printer bed to maintain a good adhesion with part.

Print bed plays a vital role to provide a strong foundation to the part. Hence it is very important to maintain a clean 3D printer bed to overcome the poor bed adhesion which leads to print failure. Now it is understood that the print bed is also a major component of the 3D printer which determines the success or failure of a part. 

It is important to examine the print bed after every print. In case you find the printing bed to be soiled with resin or filament residues, then clean it out promptly. This article gives you some smart tricks so that you can quickly clean up your printer bed.    

3D Printing bed can be cleaned in various ways based on the bed type and accumulated residue 

  • Use Water and Dishwashing detergent for Light Staining 
  • Use Glass Cleaner for cleaning Glass Bed
  • Use Isopropanol for Adhesive Residues
  • PEI Coating: For Hard cases, use acetone and Isopropanol for a normal clean.
  • AVOID SCRATCHING

Why Is It Important To Clean a 3D Printer Bed?

Providing a strong foundation to the part is the major goal of a 3D printing bed. After the process there are high chances of filament residues to be left on the printer bed. These residues make the bed grubby.

Apart from this, the printer bed is also affected by dirt in surroundings and frequent holding. This filthy bed if left out without cleaning impacts on the quality of further printing parts. There is also a chance of the printer bed getting spoiled. 

Severe damages can also be raised, which cannot be repaired because of improper maintenance which results in a great loss and thus it could be solved only when a new printer bed is replaced.

Advantages Of a Clean 3D Printer Bed?

The 3D printer bed should be cleaned for getting fruitful printing results.

Filthy beds trigger the user by causing recurring and poor layer adhesion, which brings down the quality of a part.

Maintaining the bed in good condition with regular servicing and cleaning improves the printer bed’s life and also decreases your expenditure on printer bed replacement. 

Most of the time complications occur while printing the initial layer of the print and its adherence to the print platform.

Maintaining a clean bed reduces poor bed adhesion and ensures you to get successful prints. Models along with the type materials can also affect the printer bed, so it is important to pay high attention to the printing beds while using the materials and cleaning the residues on its surface.

PEI Sheet:

Polyetherimide or PEI sheets are widely famous to improve the bed adhesion. These sheets help to increase the holding capacity of the parts and also leave the parts easily after cooling. The sheets are user friendly and easily available. Furthermore, they do not even need additional fixatives like glue or tapes etc,.     

Regrettably, PEI sheets demand frequent cleaning to ensure better adhesion. Oil droplets might be left out due to frequently touching the sheets, which reduces the holding capacity. Over scrapping the sheets might also lower the bed adhesion. Thankfully, gentle care and regular cleaning can keep up the stickiness of the sheets.

How To Clean It?

Experienced users prefer to clean the sheets with an unscented IPA beyond 70% concentration. Let the printer bed to cool down and gently put the IPA on a paper towel or a dried cloth and clean up the surface. This helps to remove enormous oil droplets on the PEI sheet. 

Alternatively acetone can also be used to take off the plastic residues present on the sheet’s surface. Just spill the acetone onto a dry cloth and clean the surface of the sheet with great care. The process is to be done in a ventilated place because acetone is greatly combustible and vapors may rush into the device.  

Sandpaper can be used to rub the sheet’s surface in a circular manner, by doing so it can undo the scratches and cut margins on it. It is highly recommended to use a 1,500+ fine grit sandpaper.

When To Clean It?

The type of brand and the extent of the printing venture decides the fine time to clean your PEI sheet. Wiping the sheets with IPA increases the level of adhesion. After a few prints keep cleaning the sheets with acetone and sandpaper now and then to avoid its extra maintenance charges.

When the sheet cannot recover its original surface then it is mandatory to replace it with a new PEI sheet. These renewals can span to monthly or yearly intervals which depends on the brand of sheet and your printing activities.

Glass: 

One more common bed material is a glass. It has a longer durability than that of a PEI sheet. They are widely popular to provide smooth and even surfaces to the base of the parts.

Glasses are used along with additional fixatives like glue, tapes, hairsprays, etc,.in order to improve the bed adhesion. While using non-heated beds, a glass is more than enough to provide proper bed adhesion. Here also frequent cleaning must be done compulsory to avoid build ups due to adhesives. These steps can also be applied to other types of beds too. 

How To Clean It?

Using a scraper is the smartest way to clean the glass. Try to head the bed till the residue becomes soft, so that it can be cleaned easily. Now take the scrapper and wipe out the residues. 

Take precautions while scraping because the scrapper’s blades will always be sharp enough and there are chances of cutting your hands or fingers accidentally. Alternatively one hand can be put on the scraper’s handle. 

In case you find the scraper not to be handy, soap or warm water  can be used to scrub the glass. This technique can remove glue and extra adhesives effectively. While scrubbing the heating unit, power supply and other sensitive electronic components might be badly damaged due to spilled water.     

A branded solution specially made for cleaning glass is highly recommended for long-running prints. High concentrated IPA, window cleaners and sterile alcohol pads can be used as alternatives to get back the original glass surface. Before applying a solution make sure that it is not over concentrated because it might cause irreparable damages to the bed, printer and other components too. Keep in touch with the manufacturer for better cleaning practices.

When To Clean It?

Similar to the PEI sheet, the right moment to clean the glass relies on the level you print. In order to avoid buildup residues on the glass, scraping it frequently is particularly suggested.after using the glass for a month scrub it with the help of soap and water and after two or four months clean it regularly with IPA or specialized cleaning solutions.

Adhesive Tape:

Adhesive tape is one more handy technique to improve bed adhesion. It is vastly used in the printers which have non-heated beds, for example M3D Micro. Masking tape and painter’s tape are widely popular tapes. Kapton is also used in specialized cases.    

Adhesive tapes are quite easy to apply, comparatively cheap and are easily available. Thus, these chief qualities make them widely famous. But sadly once if the tape is peeled out after the printing, it has to be applied again when you tend to print a new part. This means the tape can only be used once which becomes a drawback.

How To Clean It?

Due to flimsiness of adhesive tape it becomes complicated to clean the print bed. This cannot be completely avoided but can be controlled by scraping. Gently scrape out the filament residues with great precautions on the printer bed. 

Holes occur more frequently in the middle of the printer bed where the part is dispatched from it. It is better to apply limited layers while patching, so that the surface is even. 

If you notice the tape similar to swiss cheese, then it is necessary to recoat the entire bed. Peel out the tape and also scrap the priorly applied tape layer. The bed might be left out with residues of filament and adhesives, wash it with soap and water.

After cleaning the bed, dry it out and now you can put on the new adhesive tape. Carefully cut the tape into pieces and cover the entire bed. Try to press and make the bed even, so that the air bubbles can be removed and continue applying the adhesives till you obtain an even surface.

When To Clean It?

Since adhesive tapes are of poor proper quality it is necessary to change them on a regular basis. Normally scraping the bed lightly after every single bed helps to remove the residual filament. It is good to know your printing cycles of repetition and clean the bed accordingly. 

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