Yup, just like most things in life, even your 3D printer bed needs cleaning! How to clean 3D printer beds is quite easy.
It is quite common for the filament residue to stick to the printer bed after you remove the prototype. What makes it really difficult to remove is how thin and stuck down this residue is. Thankfully, there are a variety of chemicals and cleaning tools that you can use to clean the bed to make it free of any leftover residue.
In this blog, we look at several ways to clean your printer bed and make it easy to work with your 3D printer.
Use a Cleaning Cloth and Liquid
The safest method for cleaning the printer bed is to use a commercial-grade cleaning chemical with a sponge or soft cloth. There are many cleaning chemicals that are marketed precisely for cleaning 3D printer beds and work pretty well against most filament materials.
Most of these chemicals are made with Isopropyl Alcohol which is 75% alcohol, or Sterile Alcohol that has 70% alcohol.
You can also try the most common approach of soap, water, and a cleaning towel. Many users of 3D printers wash the printer bed with warm water mixed in soap. This method works pretty well on soft printing filament materials.
If the printer bed is detachable, remove it for washing and cleaning it in the sink.
Make sure not to splash water around while cleaning. There are many electrical components on your printer that can be damaged if water goes inside. You should be particularly careful with the heating unit and power supply.
The best way to clean with water and soap is with a sponge. Dip the sponge in the soapy water mix, squeeze half the water out, and then gently rub it on the residue until it softens and is removed from the bed.
The best time to clean the bed is right after your printer bed cools. If you leave residue on the printer for some time, it can become stuck hard. It will take quite an effort to remove it once it gets stuck.
If you regularly clean your printer after every print, it should be fine. The real problem arises when residue is leftover time and builds up with each print.
Another useful practice for cleaning the printer bed is to heat up the bed just before you clean. This will soften up the material, making it easier to remove the residue.
Warming up the bed will allow you to clean off the residue more easily than when it is hardened and cold. This is why warm water works so well for cleaning.
Use a Scraper for Cleaning the Printer Bed
If the bed has accumulated residue, you can use specialized tools for cleaning as well. A scraper is the most common tool used for cleaning your 3D printer bed. It can remove the residue from a previous print or from an adhesive that you have used for printing.
This method doesn’t require any chemicals so you will avoid accidental spillage.
Scraping will works on its own as long as you apply the right force. But make sure to be careful where you put your hands because you don’t want to accidentally push the scraper into your fingers!
A good scraping practice is to put one hand on the scraper handle. Use your other hand to push it down from the middle of the scraper to apply more force downwards.
With careful application of force and technique, you will be able to clean your printer bed from most kinds of residue. Many modern 3D printers come with a scraper so this can be a convenient fix.
Reasons to Clean Your 3D Printer Bed Regularly
Taking good care of your printer bed is important for both maintenance and result quality. If you don’t keep the bed clean, you will not be able to print or produce good quality art.
3D printers vary in what is used as the printing bed. Most of the time, this is regulated by the material and bonding method used by the artist. Most common printing beds are made of either glass or polypropylene because they offer a good base. They are also easier to clean.
There are different, more expensive printing floors available that offer better print results. They are also easier to clean. Depending on your printer model, you may be able to switch out to a better bed.
The simpler materials, however, are considered more adequate and longer-lasting. Some beds may require specific cleaning procedures, but glass surfaces can be wiped with water or rubbing alcohol.
To treat your machine to the safest care, it is recommended that you only apply permitted cleaning methods.
Neglecting printer cleaning or using inappropriate tools for cleaning (like knives) can cause irreversible damage to the printing bed. You may have to eventually spend more money replacing the bed if you do not prevent failures.
Varieties of Printing Beds
How you clean your printer bed depends on the material that it is made from. The four most common surfaces used in commercial and private 3D printers are glass, polypropylene, BuildTak FlexPlates, and anycubic ultrabase.
Glass is the most commonly used material in 3D printing beds. It is very stiff and offers a flat and smooth surface that will not warp easily when it gets hot. A glass surface is scratch-resistant and easy to keep clean. Glass is ideal for its density and its low heat conductivity. You can easily clean it with a chemical and sponge.
Polypropylene is another popular material used in printing beds. Many manufacturers use it because it is quite affordable. Polypropylene is much cheaper and more widely available. It isn’t as easy to clean as glass, but you shouldn’t have problems cleaning it.
Anycubic Ultrabase is an innovative printing bed. It is made from a nanoparticles based adhesive surface that makes it easier for your prints to stick to the surface. The base of your print needs to stick properly to get accurate prints and anycubic ultrabase does a good job of this. However, the sticky surface makes this bed more difficult to clean.
The Flex Plate is a removable printing bed. You can change it with a new flex plate for a new print. This printing bed makes use of magnetic systems and a steel plate that can be removed. It is best suited to use with specific filaments and adhesives. Since you can remove it from the printer, the flex plate can be cleaned more thoroughly under the sink.
You should regularly clean your printing beds to ensure the quality of your prints remains good. A clean surface will stick easier and provide a better base for the material to cling to. Prints will come out smoother and you are less likely to face complications.
We recommend consulting your printer manual to use the correct caring procedures. If you have more questions or want to add something let us know!
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