If you use a 3D printer, you know that keeping the bed clean is key to producing high quality prints. If the bed is not clean, your prints will be covered in streaks and smudges, which can ruin the overall look of your project. The steps below will show you how to clean your 3D printer bed quickly and efficiently.
What is a 3D Printer Bed?
A 3D printer bed is a platform where the 3D object is built. It is made of glass, metal or plastic. Each layer is bonded to the previous layer in the bed during 3D printing. The 3D printer bed must be clean and level for the object to print correctly, but if not, you will experience first layer issues and the object will be printed with distorted layers.
Most 3D printers have an automatic bed leveling feature that makes it easy to keep the print bed level. Some 3D printers also have heated beds that help prevent filament warping during printing. After looking at what a 3D printer bed is, let’s now look at what you need to clean it.
What you will need
Depending on your build plate material, you need various things to clean your 3D printer bed. Here we are going to use a metal 3D printer bed to show how it is cleaned. Below are the main materials required:
- Isopropyl alcohol (IPA). Make sure the IPA is at least 99% pure – anything less will be effective.
- A lint-free cloth. You can also use a pocket square or cotton.
- You’ll also need something to scrape off stubborn bits of filament – a putty knife or credit card works well for this.
- Painter’s or masking tape is also needed. Just use the low tack variety so you don’t damage your print bed.
Once you have all the materials, you can proceed with the cleaning.
Step 1: Remove any debris or dust on the bed
You can remove debris or dust from the surface of the bed using a brush or a vacuum cleaner. If the dirt clings to the bed in clumps, you can use a brush, but a vacuum is helpful if the debris is more evenly distributed across the bed. If debris is piled up under the bed, you can unscrew it completely, remove anything that might be piled up, and put it back later.
To remove the bed, use a screwdriver to loosen the four screws at each corner. But remember that you will need to level your build plate after removing it, as some materials like PLA can be difficult to stick to the bed if it is not level enough. Also, be careful not to damage the bed
Step 2: Apply isopropyl alcohol to the cleaner
Take a lint-free cloth and soak it in isopropyl alcohol. You can also use a cotton swab or pocket square to do this job. To begin cleaning, gently wipe the entire surface of the build plate in a circular motion. This will remove any residual oils and/or fingerprints and leave the build platform ready for your next print.
Once you’re done, remove any residue with a dry, lint-free cloth. It is essential to ensure that the build plate is completely dry before using the 3D printer again. Any traces of water or alcohol on the surface could prevent the filament from sticking properly, resulting in poor print quality.
Step 3: Clean further with tape
During the printing process, 3D printers often leave a trail of excess material, which can be difficult to remove, especially in the heated build plate that forms the base of the printed object. Even after cleaning by following the two steps above, removing excess material attached to the 3D printer bed can be a difficult task, and that’s where masking tape comes in now.
The tape adheres to the build plate and helps lift any remaining pieces of material. To use the tape, simply apply it to the build plate and then peel it off. With a little patience you should be able to remove all the excess material and leave your build plate clean and ready for the next print job.
Step 4: Wipe the bed
After cleaning your 3D printer bed, it is important to wipe it with a dry cloth. This will help remove any residue left over from the cleaning process.
Wiping the bed with a dry cloth helps prevent the buildup of static electricity which can damage sensitive electronic components. It also ensures that the surface is properly prepared for the next print job.
Tips for cleaning a 3D printer bed
Some additional handy tips to help you keep your printer bed clean:
- Use isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth. Avoid using abrasive materials like sandpaper, which can damage the build surface.
- If there is a stubborn residue that won’t come off with alcohol and tape, you can try soaking the build plate in acetone overnight. However, be sure to ventilate the area well and be careful not to damage other parts of the printer.
- Rinse the bed with water and dry it thoroughly before printing again.
- Clean the bed regularly. This ensures that your prints always come out correctly and your printer will last longer.
- Regular cleaning of the nozzle is also essential. You can do this with a brass wire brush or a needle, but be careful not to damage the nozzle opening.
- Use a soft cloth or brush to remove dirt or debris from the surface of the bed.
- Once you have cleaned the bed, it is essential to apply a thin layer of adhesive before printing anything on it. This will help ensure your prints adhere properly.
Get quality prints with a clean bed
Cleaning a 3D printer bed is essential for optimal printing results. If the bed is not cleaned, the prints may be of lower quality or have imperfections, and the bed itself may become damaged over time if not cleaned properly. By following the steps above, you will ensure that your build plate is clean and that you will not have print failures due to a dirty 3D printer bed.