How to Properly Clean Resin Vat & FEP Film on Your 3D Printer
Resin 3D printing produces amazing quality prints, but what about the cleaning aspect of it? Some people don’t use the best methods of cleaning the resin vat on their 3D printer, so this article will help you in that regard.
Ensure you are wearing gloves, disconnect your resin tank from the 3D printer and pour left over resin back into the bottle with a filter on top, scrape any hardened resin too. Gently dab some paper towels to clean any leftover resin. Use isopropyl alcohol to clean the resin vat and FEP film.
This is the basic answer to get your resin vat clean for the next print, keep on reading for more details and helpful tips.
How to Clean the Resin Vat on Your 3D Printer
If you are new to resin 3D printing, you may have heard that printing with resin is a much difficult task.
People consider it a messy method because it requires a lot of effort but if you know the right way to utilize the resin and its printing properties you will get to know that it is as easy as printing with filaments.
It is clear that you have to take care of some aspects while printing with resin and cleaning the resin vat because the uncured resin can cause irritations to sensitive skin.
Tools you Need
- Safety gloves
- Filter or funnel
- Paper towels
- Plastic scraper
- Isopropyl alcohol
There are not too many methods to clean the vat, all you need is to do it in the right manner.
Safety should be your first priority, wear gloves so that you avoid coming into contact with the uncured resin.
Once you have assured your safety, you can start with removing the vat from the printer as cleaning the vat while it is fixed on the printer makes things more difficult for you.
Usually, there are two thumb screws on the left and right sides of the vat that can be unscrewed easily. Make sure that you take out the vat smoothly protecting the bottom plate from scratching or hitting with the 3D printer.
You are most likely going to have liquid and maybe hardened resin from a previous print.
It is recommended to pour the resin using a filter back into your bottle of resin so that it can be used for future prints.
Since the filter by itself can be quite flimsy, it’s a good idea to get a silicone filter to go into the bottle and act as a foundation for the thin paper filter to sit inside, so it doesn’t spill or tip over.
Using a funnel is highly recommended because it will help you to filter the impurities or residual crystals so that it can be used for other prints without getting in the way of future prints.
Take a paper towel or any absorbent paper to absorb the liquid resin out of the vat thoroughly. Make sure that you don’t rub the paper too hard on the FEP film as it can damage the material and affect the quality of your future prints.
I’d recommend making sure that your brand of paper towels isn’t too rough for this job, since the FEP film is quite sensitive to rough surfaces.
Rather than rub, you can use a gentle dabbing motion or slightly press the absorbent paper towel and let it absorb the resin. Repeat this until all the resin is cleaned out of the vat.
Most solid deposits of resin should have been filtered out, but if you have hardened resin stuck to the FEP, use your finger (in gloves) on the underside of the FEP to dislodge the resin.
I try to avoid using a scraper on the FEP film as much as I can to make it last longer. I’d use the scraper just to get the residual hardened resin into the filter, but would use my finger (in gloves) to dislodge hardened resin.
Check out my article on When & How Often to Replace FEP Film which goes into some great detail about taking care of your FEP film like the pros do.
I take all the resin deposits and paper towels soaked in resin, and make sure to cure it all under a UV light for around 5 minutes. Resin can be covered and in crevices, so make sure to adjust the uncured resin deposits occasionally.
Isopropyl alcohol does a really good job in cleaning out these liquids and other marks like grease or dirt.
Whether you have an Elegoo Mars, Anycubic Photon or other resin 3D printer, the method above should help you clean your resin vat to a good standard.
How to Remove a Resin Print Stuck to the FEP Sheet
You should filter out the resin from the resin tank and clear out the rest of the resin with paper towels first, ensuring you have nitrile gloves. Lift the resin tank and gently push the underside of the stuck resin print all around until it loosens from the FEP film.
Rather than using your plastic spatula or some other object, you can simply use your fingers to dislodge any resin 3D prints that are stuck down.
I had a test print from the Anycubic Photon Mono X which had 8 squares printed, stuck to the FEP sheet. There was no way it was coming off even with the plastic spatula and a decent amount of pressure.
Instead, I learned the technique of using your fingers to remove those failed prints, keeping my FEP in good order and not damaging it. I managed to get all 8 squares that were stuck down off in no time.
Having to clean out the resin and soak the remnants up does become tedious, but it’s part of the experience with resin 3D printing. Although FDM printing requires a lot less clean-up and post-processing, the quality of resin is so much better.
How to Get Resin Off LCD Screen
To get resin off your LCD screen, you should wipe up any uncured resin with paper towels. For any resin that’s cured to the actual LCD screen, you can spray some 90%+ isopropyl alcohol on the areas, leave it to sit and soften the resin, then scrape it off with a plastic scraper.
Some people have even recommended further curing the resin so it can warp/expand and be easier to get underneath to remove. If you don’t have a UV light, you can also use the sunlight to cure the resin.
Another user mentioned that the LCD glass is resistant to acetone but resin isn’t so you can use an acetone soaked paper towel to help remove the cured resin.
When using a plastic scraper or razor, make sure you are scraping slowly in one direction, as well as making sure it’s lubricated with something like rubbing alcohol or acetone. Ensure the blade is staying more parallel to the surface rather than at angles.
Below is a video of a user using isopropyl alcohol and a card to remove cured resin off his LCD screen.
You can use these same techniques if you want to clean the build plate on your resin printer.