Cleaning a 3D printer bed can be a challenge. Ask anyone who has tried it. Excess 3d filament and other contaminants on the print bed are not always easy to remove.
However, it can be much worse if not cleaned. A dirty print bed can cause printing problems such as reduced bed adhesion.
Reduced bed adhesion can be a nightmare. If the printed material does not adhere to the bed during printing, what you are printing may fall apart. This is a waste of time and material. However, removing dirt, oil, dust, and grime from the print bed is a complex task.
Below are some good cleaning methods for different types of print bed surfaces.
Why is it important to clean 3D printer beds?
The bed of a 3D printer is the foundation on which the model is printed. During the printing process, filament may remain after the process is complete.
The bed can also be contaminated by common handling (sebum, fingerprints, dirt, etc.) and by substances from the environment. These contaminants can affect the quality of future prints and damage the print bed over time.
Lack of maintenance can eventually cause irreversible damage that can only be resolved by replacing the print bed.
Glass Print Beds
The glass print bed is the universal printing surface for 3D printing. Borosilicate glass is most commonly used for this printing surface.
Glass print beds with a heating function have better adhesion and are also easier to clean.
Timing of Cleaning
The frequency of cleaning glass print beds is related to the frequency of use. The more frequently it is used, the faster dirt accumulates. The more often it is cleaned, the more often it is cleaned.
In general, here are some points to keep in mind when cleaning the print bed.
First, after each print, scrape the print bed you were working on. This will prevent filament and other materials from accumulating on the bed.
After a while, you will notice that the prints are not adhering as well to the print bed. It may also stop sticking to the print bed. This usually happens after about a month.
When this happens, the cleaning process requires more than just the usual scrubbing. Scrubbing the print bed well with soap is also helpful.
After a while (2-4 months on average), cleaning with soap and water is not enough. In this case, a more advanced solution is needed. Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is the solution to try. Isopropyl alcohol is a very strong and effective cleaning solvent that should clean the print bed well.
How to Clean Glass Print Beds
Glass beds are a type of print bed preferred by 3D printing experts. This is to make it easier to print 3D objects with smooth surfaces. However, glass beds are often combined with adhesives to improve the printing process.
However, these adhesives and filaments must be removed after each printing. Otherwise, problems will occur during printing. Below are some effective cleaning methods for glass print beds.
The easiest way is to clean the print bed with a scraper after each print.
Trying to shave with an excellent surface may seem difficult. To make it easier, you may want to raise the temperature of the glass bed to match the melting point of the filament. This will allow you to gently scrape off the debris. When scraping, be gentle and careful. Otherwise, you risk damaging the printed surface.
Scraping alone may not be sufficient. Soap and water should be used as part of the cleaning procedure. Before doing so, it is essential to remove the bed from the printer. Otherwise, water may enter the sensitive parts of the printer and damage them.
The water to be used should be lukewarm. The reason is the same as heating the print bed before scraping. It would be helpful to soften the filament so that it can be removed quickly. The adhesive used during printing can also be effectively cleaned with soapy water.
These methods may not be effective for cleaning. You can rely on advanced cleaning solutions. These include glass cleaner, concentrated isopropyl alcohol, acetone, and sterile alcohol swabs.
Which agent to use depends on many factors. The main one is the type of material you want to clean. Also, make sure the solution is not extremely strong so as not to damage the print bed.
Isopropyl alcohol should have a concentration of 70% or less. When using acetone, always wipe with a cloth or paper towel. Soak the cloth with acetone and wipe the surface with it.
Remember that acetone is a highly flammable substance. Therefore, cleaning with this substance should be done in a well ventilated area.
PEI Print Beds
Polyetherimide, also called PEI, is a sticky plastic sheet. It is like the surface of a print bed. It is considered a relatively “maintenance-free” construction surface.
PEI can handle all types of filaments in heated and unheated print beds. It also does not require the addition of adhesives prior to use.
When to clean the PEI bed
The PEI bed should be cleaned after each use. This will prevent filament residue and other contaminants from building up on the surface. If the printer has not been used for several days, dust may accumulate. In this case, a light cleaning should be performed.
If you notice that the PEI print bed surface has lost tackiness, it is time to clean it. Decreased tack is usually caused by the accumulation of filament residue and debris on the surface of the print bed. At this point, a more rigorous cleaning procedure may be necessary.
How to clean the PEI bed
The PEI print bed surface can be cleaned in several ways. The more frequently the print bed is used, the more difficult the cleaning method becomes; here are some effective cleaning methods for cleaning PEI print beds.
Cleaning PEI print beds with acetone or brake cleaner can be quite effective in difficult cases. Acetone and brake cleaner are fairly powerful agents and should be used with caution on most surfaces.
However, IAP surfaces can be damaged even with acetone or brake cleaner. Just be careful not to over clean.
Stubborn filament residue that does not come off quickly is a problem with many 3D printers. However, acetone and brake fluid are the best solutions to this problem. Cleaning with acetone should not be done too often. Otherwise, the surface may become brittle. An interval of at least one week between acetone cleanings is appropriate.
Acetone is not necessary in all cleaning cases; sometimes only basic cleaning is required for PEI surfaces. This is especially true if the surface is dusty or just a little dirty. In this case, a cloth pad with soapy water can be used to gently wipe the surface.
Isopropanol is suitable for standard and intermediate level cleaning of PEI surfaces. It is best suited for cases where a simple wipe down with soapy water is not sufficient and cleaning with acetone or brake cleaner is not required.
When using isopropanol, make sure the surface is excellent first. Isopropanol is volatile and evaporates quickly. Therefore, when it feels heat, it evaporates even faster. After the shell has cooled, apply isopropanol.
After applying isopropanol, gently wipe the surface with a paper towel, cloth pad, or soft sponge. The isopropanol solution used should be 99%.
There are many different types of tapes. Painter’s tape and polyamide tape are examples. Painter’s tape is a thin sheet of paper with a pressure-sensitive adhesive that can be removed quickly when pressure is applied.
Polyamide tape withstands temperatures as high as 280°C and is coated on one side with a silicone adhesive.
Timing of Cleaning
There are many different types of tape. Painter’s tape and polyamide tape are examples. Painter’s tape is a thin sheet of paper with a pressure-sensitive adhesive that can be removed quickly when pressure is applied.
Polyamide tape withstands temperatures up to 280°C and is coated on one side with a silicone adhesive.
The tape is relatively hard to clean. However, it is sufficient to lightly scrub the surface with a spatula to remove any remaining filaments. Scrub gently and evenly so as not to damage the tape.
During the cleaning process, areas where the tape may become loose or torn may occur. These areas should be sealed carefully and evenly. The areas to watch out for are those that have the most movement.
Eventually the bed will need to be resurfaced. To do this, the previous layer of tape must be scraped off. The mattress underneath should be washed with soap and water to remove any adhesive residue.
After washing and drying, new tape can be applied. To do this, the tape should be applied over the entire surface of the bed, pushing out any air bubbles under the tape until the surface is as flat as possible.
Benefits of a Clean 3D Printing Bed
A clean 3D print bed is essential for perfect results. A bed that is not clean will repeatedly cause problems with layer adhesion, compromising the quality of the print.
Keeping the 3D print bed in proper condition will extend its life and save the cost of purchasing somewhat expensive replacements.
A key printing issue is the quality of the first layer and its adhesion to the build plate.
A clean 3D printer bed ensures that the model will print correctly without problems. Remember to follow the print bed maintenance as it depends on the model and material.
How To Clean A 3D Printer Bed| Video Explanation
How To Clean A 3D Printer Bed | Infographic
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I clean PLA from the print bed?
When printing on ABS (or PLA), it can be dissolved with acetone. Simply pour a little on the bed and wipe it off (acetone can damage beds with plastic coatings or sheets, so be sure to test it first). Heating the bed will soften the plastic and make it easier to remove.
What do you use to clean the print bed?
Isopropyl alcohol is often used as an effective cleaning agent for 3D printer beds. High concentrations of isopropyl alcohol clean oils more effectively and faster than water or soap; use 70% or higher isopropyl alcohol or IPA; use up to 99.9% isopropyl alcohol for a more thorough clean.
What can dissolve PLA?
PLA can be dissolved in solvents such as acetone, ethyl acetate, methyl ethyl ketone, tetrahydrofuran, and sodium hydroxide to clean 3D printer nozzles, smooth PLA prints, and dissolve PLA support structures.
Can isopropyl alcohol 70 be used to clean resin prints?
The 70:30 ratio of alcohol to water has the advantage of being gentle on skin and household floors. The disadvantage of 3D printing with this ratio is that it does not clean the resin well; we do not recommend the use of 70% IPA for 3D printing. The remainder is 91% and 99% IPA.
How should I clean Ender’s glass bed?
The best way to clean the glass bed is to apply a little heat, then apply a cleaning solution such as hot soapy water, glass cleaner, or acetone to the printer bed, let it sit for a minute, and then clean it by rubbing with a paper towel or tool The second wipe is a good step I think.
There is no longer any excuse for a machine’s print bed to be dirty. In addition, I am not a meticulous person in the 3D printing world, so when the failure rate starts to increase, I tend to clean it. In other words, my strategy is “after the fact” rather than “preventative”.