3D printers are not very peculiar nowadays; almost every research institute or industry uses 3D printers to create fake prototypes of their desired product; hence, everything inside a 3D printer is essential.
If any of the components goes missing or doesn’t work, it will impact the overall finish of the product. The printer Bed is one such component that, when not cleaned, can create problems during the procedure.
The cleaning of the 3D printer bed depends on the type of Printer bed used. If it’s a PEI-based printing bed, you can use 99.99% concentrated IPA or Acetone. If it’s a Glass based printing bed, you can use extensive methods like cleaning with a scraper, dishwasher soap, paper towels, etc. For more information on how to clean a 3D printer bed, you must keep reading.
Why is 3D Printer Bed Cleaning Important?
The printer bed acts as a base or surface on which your model will be printed. Having said that, you can understand how important it is to clean your 3D printer bed. If your previous printing residues are left on the bed, it might damage your next printing model. There might be some instances where you would have the need to process 3D prints quickly. Be it printing 3D cookie cutters or cosplay, if you are continuously printing anything without cleaning, it is going to be a problem.
The bed does not get dirty only due to residual filaments; the dirt could be anything varying from surrounding particles to fingerprints, body oils, etc. All these contaminants can damage the quality of your following prints. Thus, if you wish to maintain the quality of your prints, it is best to clean off the print bed after every use. If not cleaned often, you will have no other choice but to replace the printer bed.
Now that you have understood the need for cleaning your 3D printer bed let’s check the process to clean it based on the Printer bed type.
Cleaning Glass 3D Printer Beds
Glass is a common material used in printing beds. Working with hot filaments on Glass is more accessible as the Glass is not sensitive to warm conditions. In addition, the heat falling on the printer bed makes it easier to clean off residual material. But, you cannot scrape off the glass surface too harshly.
The glass is not sensitive to heat, but it is prone to having scratches when cleaned with rough or sharp objects. To initiate, you can start with cleaning any traces of residual glue from your 3D printer glass bed. This can be done quickly using a metal scraper or a plastic measuring scale.
Sometimes Glass cannot alone ensure print sticking on its surface. You might have to use gluestick or hair sprays in conjunction to ensure maximum adherence. Thus, most people rely on using glue sticks, but they don’t know it can damage the surface of the Glass when dried completely. Now, you know, so you must not make the same mistake.
- Dishwasher soap
- Paper towel or microfiber cloths, sponge.
- Isopropyl Alcohol of 70% to 99% concentration. (recommended 3D printing alcohol)
How to Clean it
1. Scrapers: The easiest way to remove residues from a Glass 3D printing bed is using a scraper. But, you should not directly start scrapping. First, heat the bed to the level where the residues become soft enough to clean off. Once the residues are soft, you can take the scraper and firmly push the residues down from the printing bed edges.
Scrapers could be dangerous depending upon the type of blades it uses. You must use one hand to hold the top of the scraper and the other in the center of the scraper to apply accurate downwards force.
2. Dishwasher soap: If the above method wasn’t effective, you could try scrubbing the Glass using a mild dishwasher soap and water. As simple as it sounds, this method is noted to effectively remove residues of hairspray, glue, or other adhesives.
Even in this method, you have to apply firm pressure on the Glass. More than anything, you have to use water carefully as spilled water can damage the power supply unit or bed heating. So, use a little amount of water and soap on the paper towel and remove the residues.
An exclusive cleaning solution is also effective if you find the above methods tiring. All of the cleaning solutions contain IPA, which helps dissolve the residues and restore the glass base.
Make sure the IPA cleaning solution you are using is not highly concentrated. It can be above 70%. Otherwise, you would severely damage the printer bed or delicate electronics inside the printer.
When to Clean 3D printing bed adhesion
The frequency of cleaning depends on each individual’s printing habits. If you use a Glass 3D printing bed every day, it is better to scrape off the residues after every use or completion. If you find your printer bed not adhering to the printing material, start using soap and water or a specialized cleaning solution after every 3 to 4 months.
Cleaning Adhesive Tape 3D Printing Bed
Adhesive tape is another excellent method to increase 3D printer glass bed adhesion. Printer beds like M3D Micro use masking tapes or Kapton tapes to maintain 3D printer bed adhesion as these printers have non-heated beds; thus, adhesive tapes become essential to use.
While adhesive tape seems easy to use, it is equally difficult to clean up. Whenever you see a patch on the printing bed that is worn off, consider it an indication that the printer is used too much or needs a replacement. The tape often comes off with the print you create. Thus, it needs to be replaced regularly to maintain uniformity of the bed and adhesion as well.
- Plastic scale, metal scraper
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Dishwasher soap
- Tissue papers, sponge, microfiber cloth
How to Clean it
Adhesive tapes are the most difficult 3D printer bed adhesive to clean. Nevertheless, gentle scrubbing and scrapping work effectively to clean the adhesive tape residues. Take a scraper or a metal spatula to remove any possible adhesive tape filament, apply a firm and even force so you don’t scrape off any part of the tape. All you have to do is clean the outside of the adhesive tape.
Patch or replace the areas where you don’t see any sticking. Most of the time, patches or holes are created in the center of the bed. Thus, be sure to patch up the center but don’t overly patch the layers as it would make the bed’s surface uneven.
If you see your tape is very sticky, it’s probably best to resurface the entire bed with new adhesive tape. To do this, first, start peeling and scraping the previous tape. Once the tape is removed, clean it with soap and water mixture. You can use a sponge to scrub off leftover tape residues but make sure the bed is not hot when you use the sponge.
They were once cleaned and all dried up. Take a new adhesive tape and stick it over the bed surface. Press gently over the tape to remove any air bubbles created in the tape. Do this until the entire surface is even.
When to Clean it
Adhesive tapes are more fragile than any other adhesive such as PEI or Glass; thus it requires frequent replacements. After every use, I recommend lightly scraping the adhesive tape on which the filament is stuck. You may have to weekly or monthly replace the adhesive tapes based on your level of usage.
Cleaning PEI 3D Printing Bed
PEI(Polyetherimide) printing bed sheets are the next most popular option proven effective to improve bed adhesion. They serve as the best base for various printing filament materials and release off most of the prints without leaving any residues behind. Yet, sometimes the filament material goes wrong, and the residues get stuck on the printing plate.
The best thing to remove such strong residues is a 70% concentration, volatile IPA solution. This solution can clean off any dirt such as oils, grease, fingerprints, filament residues without damaging the complex integrals of your PEI-based printing bed.
- +1,500 grit Sandpaper
- Paper towels, microfiber cloth
- 70% to 99.99% concentration IPA
How to Clean it
PEI coating is a high-end material that cannot be cleaned off with easy extensive methods; you need a specialized solution to clean them. An unscented 70% IPA solution is an excellent option to use on the PEI sheet. After printing is done, let the bed cool down completely, then take a single pump of IPA onto a dry microfiber cloth, wipe the bed with this cloth, majority of the residues will be gone with this solution.
Most of the filament material is made of plastic; thus, IPA would not be enough. For this, you can use Acetone. It greatly helps in dissolving the glues or plastic that’s stuck on the plate. Simply damp a dry cloth with Acetone, then uniformly wipe the residues from the PEI bed. Be very cautious while using Acetone as it is flammable and might hurl into the electrical components of the printer.
If none of these methods come out effective, I recommend using fine-grit sandpaper 1,500 grit sandpaper. You can use sandpaper when the residues on the PEI sheet are very low and light. This way, you don’t have to use heavy chemical treatments on your printer bed. Gently rub the sandpaper over the bed surface in a circular motion until all the scratches and light residues are removed.
When to Clean it
Cleaning time with PEI sheet printing beds depends on the brand of printing bed you are using. Most of the manufacturers suggest wiping IPA after every use. After 2 or 3 months, start cleaning with Acetone and sandpaper. When you can no longer clean your PEI sheet, it is recommended to buy a new printing bed.
How To Clean Glass Bed For Ender 3?
Ender 3 is an upgraded version of the printer that is manufactured by the brand Ender. It manufactures various Glass and PEI 3D printing beds. The only problem with these beds is the residues get stuck easily on them. Thus, it is recommended to always clean your Ender 3 bed.
Following are the steps you can follow for effective cleaning Ender 3 bed
- Use a 3D printer removal scraper, spatula, or removal tool kit to remove all the plastic residues of the previous prints.
- Apply an IPA cleaning solution or a soap and water solution and leave it there for a few minutes until all the residues soften.
- Gently rub the ender 3 print surface with paper towels or a sponge to remove any residues.
- See if all the residues are removed. If not, try using the scraper again to remove the leftover light residues.
This is how you clean your Ender 3 print bed. In the worst case, if you aren’t able to clean this bed, replace it with a new one.
If you own a 3D printer, you will know its benefits and drawbacks. Cleaning is a mandatory part of any brand’s printing bed. All the bed surfaces are prone to sticking glues or other adhesives on themselves; thus, frequent cleaning will remove all the residues and resurface your printer bed just like a new bed. I hope you found good insights on how to clean a 3D printer bed.