You might have experienced scratches on your resin build plate and started worrying about what it means for your future 3D prints. Do you try to fix it or replace it? This article will answer that question for you so you know how it can affect you.
You can still use your resin printer’s build plate if it is slightly scratched. In fact, some users say the scratches on the build plate can actually lead to better build plate adhesion. However, if the scratches get too deep or gouge the build plate’s surface, you’ll have to fix or replace the build plate.
There’s some more useful information that you’ll want to know, so keep reading on.
What Happens if You Scratch Your Resin Build Plate?
Scratching a resin build plate is quite normal and shouldn’t lead to any issues in your 3D printing experience.
Most owners of resin printers usually scratch their build plates when removing models using the metal scraper that comes with the printer. The good news is that it usually doesn’t affect the print if the scratch isn’t too wide or deep.
I’ve definitely done it myself with some of my resin printers and continued printing models as usual.
For example, look at this build plate below which has several scratches.
However, the user reported that the scratches didn’t affect the model’s quality or adhesion. In fact, they say the model was even harder to get off the build plate after the build plate was scratched.
This is because the resin printer fills in the scratches on the build plate using the first layer. The first layer cures into the scratches on the build plate, giving the model additional grip on the build plate.
So, after the first layer, the model has a flat, smooth surface to keep printing on. In this situation, the only thing that is affected is the bottom finish of the model. You can always counteract this by using a false bottom, like a raft, on the model.
However, some scratches can cause problems if they are not taken care of. Some scratches have raised edges and burrs, which can damage the FEP sheet and cause issues with the print.
Check out the video below for few ways to remove your model without scratching the build plate.
- Always use the print removal scraper at a flat angle to the build plate.
- Some people take the build plate and put it in the freezer for a few minutes. The cold shrinks the model on the build plate, making it easier to remove.
- Switch to a plastic scraper instead of a metal one to reduce scratches. You can get the Bates Plastic Putty Knife Set of 6 from Amazon.
According to user reviews, you can use them to remove resin prints from the build plate easily. Additionally, they are rigid enough to get under objects, while being flexible enough to avoid scratching the build plate.
How to Fix a Scratched Build Plate
To fix a scratched build plate, you can use a raft on your models to avoid the scratches being present on your model. You can also remove the burrs from your build plate by sanding it with 120 & 80-grit sandpaper on a flat surface. Another method is to sand the entire build plate with sandpaper or palm sander.
There are several ways you can still fix and use a scratched build plate: Some of these methods include:
- Using a raft
- Removing the burrs
- Sanding the entire build plate
Use a Raft
A raft helps prevent the bottom of the model from sustaining damage from the build plate. It takes the hit from the scratches giving the 3D model a smooth surface to build on.
A raft also gives your model a bigger surface area to print on, increasing its adhesion to the build plate.
You can easily add rafts to the model in your favorite 3D modeling or slicing software. Here’s how you can add one in Lychee slicer:
- Import or drag your model into the workspace
- Click on Prepare
- On the sidebar, click on the Raft icon.
- A menu will appear on the right-hand side. Select the type of raft you want and specify its thickness.
- Viola, your model now has a raft
You can still create your usual supports between the raft and the model since it might be hard to separate the raft and model if created like the picture above.
Note: The optimal thickness for a raft should be between 1-4 normal layers. However, you should avoid making it too thick to prevent material wastage and warping.
So, keep the thickness between 0.1mm and 0.2mm.
Remove The Burrs
Burrs are rough edges or raised ridges on the surface of your build plate. These rough edges can damage the FEP sheet if they come in contact with it.
As a result, this may affect the print quality as it can distort the light image shining through the sheet. To avoid this, you need to remove the burrs from the build plate.
Here’s how to remove burrs from the build plate:
- Wear some gloves
- Run them over the scratches on the build plate and determine where the gloves catch on the plate. This is where you need to remove the burrs.
- Mark the areas
- Using 120-grit sandpaper to sand down the burrs, then clean with a Scotch Brite Pad
- Be careful not to sand lower than the build plate’s surface.
Sand The Entire Build Plate
If the scratches on your build plate are very deep, or you have gouges or low spots in the plate, you might need to sand it. Sanding removes all the scratches and low spots while giving your build plate additional texture that leads to better print adhesion.
To sand your plate, you’ll need a few things:
- An extremely flat surface (you can use a glass plate)
- Sandpaper Assortment – 80 & 120 grit sandpaper
- Isopropyl alcohol
- A lint-free cloth
An extremely flat surface is critical when sanding down your build plate to avoid creating a gradient on the plate. You can check the surface flatness with a spirit level.
To sand your build plate, you first want to clean the build plate with isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth. Then you want to place the 120-grit sandpaper on the flat surface. Next, move the build plate over the sandpaper to remove the scratches and level out the low spots on the plate.
You can rotate the build plate and continue sanding for a more evenly sanded build plate. To know whether your build plate is sanded evenly, you should see the surface has no visible low spots with a uniform surface color.
After the build plate is level, you can use the 80-grit build plate to add a bit of texture to the plate, sanding diagonally to put scratches into the build plate. After that, clean the build plate again with the isopropyl alcohol and lint-free cloth, then you should be done.
You can check out this great video from MatterHackers to see how it’s done.
While sanding your build plate, always use gloves and a mask to avoid inhaling metal particles. Also, most users recommend that you grip your build plate in a way that ensures the pressure across its surface is uniform.
Some people recommend to put the sandpaper on a flat surface like a glass surface and pass the build plate over it repeatedly until the burrs are gone.
Best Resin Build Plate Replacement – Anycubic Photon, Elegoo Mars & More
Most of the time, you can either live with the scratches on your build plate or fix them. But sometimes, the damage might be too extensive, so you’re going to have to replace the build plate.
Here are some great options you can use to replace your build plate.
The Fulament Fula-Flex (Amazon) isn’t a build plate replacement per se. It’s a removable, flexible, magnetic metal sheet that you can attach to the surface of your build plate for printing.
After printing, you can easily remove this plate and flex it to get your print off it easily. It’s also made of stainless steel, making it harder to scratch or gouge its surface, giving it a higher lifespan.
The Fula-Flex plate comes in two parts:
- The first part is an adhesive back that you attach to the original build plate. This part holds the magnets.
- The second part is the print sheet, which stays on the build plate thanks to the magnet.
The user reviews for this build plate are solid, with most users reporting seamless, easy printing. However, one major flaw with the build plate is that the logo is etched onto its surface.
The logo on the surface is imprinted onto the bottom of the model, which can ruin its design. One user found the FUL logo on her print before she shipped it to a customer and as you can guess, that could’ve been very embarrassing.
You can avoid this by using a raft or any other backing on the bottom. You can also remove the logo’s imprint from the model by sanding its bottom after printing.
Apart from this, it works pretty well. Most users say it’s quite easy to flex and pop prints off the build plate.
The ELEGOO build plate is a full-sized replacement for the ELEGOO Mars 2 resin printer series. If your build plate has been damaged beyond repair, you might need this rather than a magnetic sheet.
This replacement comes with a sandblasted surface that automatically provides the needed texture for build plate adhesion. It also comes with a larger bed leveling hexagonal nut to keep the bed stable and level for longer.
Apart from these changes, most users say it’s no different from the stock build plate. It is straightforward to install, and you should have no problems using it while printing.
However, a small number of customers have experienced some quality control issues, like the build plate being slightly too big for the printer. As we’ve seen above, scratches don’t make a significant difference for your build plate and may actually help with adhesion.
However, make sure you’re very careful with the scraper when removing models from the plate. Good luck and happy printing!