How to Clean The 3D Printer Bed.
There is a lot of discussion in the 3D printing communities about the best methods for cleaning the 3D printer platform. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, we’ve got some tips for success.
We will discuss various cleaners and how to use them to clean FDM printer platforms.
Why Clean the Print Bed?
It may seem obvious, but plastic adheres better to clean surfaces. If you have poor board adhesion, print quality may suffer. To obtain the best adhesion, remove any buildup of filament, oil, dirt and dust.
Also, when you have a clean 3D printer bed, you may not need to use tricks like glue stick, masking tape, and hairspray to improve the grip.
As with anything involving chemicals and electricity, a little common sense can help protect yourself and your property.
Never mix chemicals. You may unintentionally create toxic and hazardous substances. In particular, never mix acetone and isopropyl alcohol. It forms a toxic chemical, peracetic acid, which can cause chemical burns or worse.
Do not use these products in confined spaces and make sure you have good ventilation.
Also remember that acetone and all types of alcohol are flammable. All it takes to start a fire is a spark from electronics or a heated bed.
Few cleaning products are effective and safe for cleaning the bed surface.
Isopropyl alcohol (IPA)
IPA or 90% or higher rubbing alcohol is an excellent cleaning solution. Anything above 90% will be hard to find in a pharmacy, but you can easily find it on Amazon.
As a last resort, you can use 70%, but be aware that it won’t remove as much oil from the build surface, and it may contain chemicals other than alcohol and water. When alcohol and water dry, they can leave a thin layer of other unknown compounds on your bed.
In our experience, 70% isopropyl works great on already fairly clean beds. If you see fingerprints or smudges on the build plate that 70% isopropyl won’t remove, you may need something stronger. We have found that 90% isopropyl is the best choice between price and performance.
Theoretically, ethyl alcohol is also a good cleaning solution. However, it is difficult to find it in a strong enough concentration, and in some US states it is illegal to buy it without a prescription.
Everclear is a brand of ethyl alcohol available at the liquor store. Everclear is 190 proof which means it is 95% alcohol.
However, in general, ethyl alcohol contains more impurities than isopropyl alcohol and is more expensive. For these reasons, we recommend isopropyl alcohol instead of ethyl alcohol.
You may already have some acetone at home. It is the main ingredient in some nail polish removers. Read the label because not all nail polish removers contain acetone. You can find 100% acetone at hardware stores and it’s a relatively inexpensive solvent.
Acetone removes oil very well and it evaporates very quickly. It has a very strong odor and is highly flammable. It can also dissolve some plastics such as ABS and acrylic. For this reason, be very careful what you apply acetone to. Prevent damage to skin, 3D printer, floors and furniture by avoiding contact with any other surfaces except the bed.
While it cleans your desktop very well, we don’t recommend using acetone regularly. In fact, it can damage PEI coated beds.
Soap and warm water
Alcohol and acetone, although they can remove grease, do not remove the glue sticks that some people use to improve the adhesion of the first layer. Dishwashing soap and water are good at removing both grease and glue. It’s easier to use dish soap and water if you have a removable bed because you can take it to the sink.
Remember that soap and water mixtures are electrically conductive, so be careful not to get them on your 3D printer’s electronics. This can cause a brief or, in the worst case, shock.
In general, soapy water can be the best mixture because it can remove all types of dirt.
Glass cleaners like Windex are not just for cleaning glass. They can also act as release agents. Windex will remove some of the oil from the layer, as well as some other water soluble contaminants, but will also leave behind a film of its own. This can lead to less adhesion, which is not always a bad thing.
In some cases, such as when printing with PETG on a PEI-coated print surface, the prints may stick so well that when you try to remove the PEI coating, they may stretch. If you’re having this problem, consider using a window cleaner to clean your bed, or just spray a little to reduce sticking, even if your bed is perfectly clean. Just be sure to clean it up again if you switch to a filament type that doesn’t stick like PLA or ABS.
How to Clean Your 3D Print Bed
The steps to clean the 3D printer bed are basically the same whether you have a glass bed (like the Anycubic Kobra Max), a metal bed (like the Voxelab Aquila), a magnetic bed (like the Anycubic Vyper), or a coated bed. PEI (as with some Ender 3 printers).
Actually there is only one exception. You should not use acetone to clean PEI sheets because it can damage the PEI sheet over time. With that in mind, follow these steps for cleaning beds made from different materials.
Here are the steps to clean with isopropyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol, acetone or Windex:
Use a scraper to remove any remaining filament or adhesive tape from the glass plate, metal base, or PEI sheet.
Make sure the bed is at room temperature. Otherwise, the cleaning liquid will evaporate. You want to give it time to soak up the oil.
Do not touch the bed with your hands to avoid soiling it. Imagine that you are a surgeon.
Always apply the cleaning solution to a clean paper towel or cloth, and don’t spray it directly on the bed, as mist can get into your electronics. Apply enough cleaning solution to a paper towel so you can wipe down the entire bed before it starts to evaporate. Methodically clean the entire bed, applying pressure evenly throughout the cleaning process. If desired, add a second paper towel or clean cloth to dry the bed. Drying can remove even more surface dirt and oil, as well as removing any remaining dirt or pieces of the first paper towel. The first pass dissolves impurities. The second pass removes these contaminants.
1-If your bed is relatively clean, you can skip the second pass.
2-If you have adhesion problems, be sure to dry the bed.
3-If you see any remaining smudges, fingerprints, etc., repeat the above steps until they disappear.
With soap and water
When using soap and water to clean the bed, do the following:
First, wash your hands thoroughly. Wash the bed like dishes, but do not use abrasive products. A soft sponge or cloth will do. You can just use your hands, but you will pick up more fat if you use a sponge, cloth, or paper towel.
Add some pressure as you lather it up to help push out the oil. Then rinse off all the soap. Don’t leave anything behind. You don’t want soap left on the bed at all. Finally, dry the bed thoroughly with a new, clean cloth.
Keeping Your Bed Clean
The best way to have a clean bed is not to get it dirty. If possible, do not touch the bed at all. Wash your hands thoroughly if you need to handle the bed. Better yet, wear clean gloves. Nitrile or latex gloves work great.
After you have cleaned the bed, touch it only on the sides. Keeping your bed clean means that future prints are more likely to be successful.
*Special thanks to FormerLurker for his expertise in 3D printing.
How to Clean The 3D Printer Bed
How to Clean The 3D Printer Bed