All 3D resin prints need a thorough cleaning before curing. Both cleaning and curing are time-bound procedures, which may lead you to wonder how long a 3D resin print can sit before you clean and cure the model.
A 3D resin print can sit indefinitely before cleaning if the model is in an isolated environment that does not cure the photopolymer. However, you should clean your resin print as soon as possible if it’s exposed to ultraviolet light or radiation, solvents, heat, and humidity.
Where your resin print sits before cleaning is more important than how long it sits for. Additionally, it is sometimes better to let your freshly printed resin model sit for a while before you take it out of the 3D printer’s build plate. Read on to find out how to manage a resin print before cleaning.
Should a Resin Print Sit on the Build Plate Before Being Cleaned?
A resin print should sit on the build plate before cleaning for at least a few minutes. A 3D printed model will have some uncured resin which can drip into the tank if you let the object stay on the build plate. That said, you should keep the enclosure closed.
The widely available 3D printer resins don’t have identical viscosity, and their compositions are distinct, which means how much of the resin is left uncured will vary depending on the type of resin you are using.
If you take a 3D resin model from the build plate immediately after the printing is complete, it may result in some of the uncured photopolymer dripping on the table, floor, and other places, leaving you a mess you’ll need to clean up. Additionally, liquid and uncured 3D printer resins are toxic, and leaving drips unaddressed can be dangerous, especially if you have pets or children.
Due to this, it’s best to let your resin print sit on the build plate for a few minutes after printing, if not longer.
How Long Can a 3D Resin Print Sit on the Build Plate?
In theory, a resin print can sit on the build plate indefinitely if the printer has an enclosure that is closed while the print sits. Practically, you can let it sit overnight or for a few days, but you must keep out ultraviolet light and watch the relative humidity to prevent curing.
The 3D printer enclosure should be UV-proof if you plan to keep a resin model on the build plate for a day or longer. If you’re unsure whether your current enclosure is sufficient, you can place a towel or opaque cover over it to prevent the resin print from prematurely curing before cleaning.
Early curing isn’t a concern if a room or studio and the 3D resin printer aren’t exposed to any UV light, natural or artificial. However, if you want to 3D print a few resin models and clean them later, you will have to take each one out of the build plate and keep it in a sealed box.
You will need to exercise care while handling fresh, unclean, uncured resin prints and wear gloves and protective eyewear. Gloves will protect your hands and prevent you from unintentionally casting your fingerprints on the unclean, uncured resin prints.
Some tips to keep in mind if you allow your fresh 3D prints to sit in a sealed box or shelf before cleaning include:
- Keep each model sitting upright on its base.
- Ensure the model is spaced to avoid contact with any objects.
- Prevent the object from pre-curing deformation due to a fall or improper handling.
If you’re working on multiple 3D resin models sequentially and multitasking (for example, if you’re curing a few objects at once), you should ensure that the fresh prints don’t sit anywhere near UV lamps and cleaning solvents, such as IPA, TPM, and water. You will also need to keep them in the dark.
Advantages of Delaying 3D Resin Print Cleaning
Here are some of the advantages of delaying 3D resin print cleaning:
- Uncured resin on the printed model will drip into the 3D printer tank.
- You can clean multiple 3D prints made of identical resin at the same time.
- Using one bath for many models saves money, be it IPA, TPM, or ultrasonic.
- One UV curing session can include several models, subject to size.
- You can time the cleaning and drying to use sunlight for curing the resin prints.
- Any subsequent post-production can be planned and executed more conveniently.
Disadvantages of Delaying 3D Resin Print Cleaning
The only disadvantage of delaying 3D resin print cleaning is the likelihood of early or premature curing. However, this challenge is entirely manageable if you isolate the resin prints. Handle the models with care and keep them away from UV light, solvents, heat, and high relative humidity.
Resin prints can absorb moisture if the relative humidity is too high, just like they soak some water during a wash. Also, ambient temperatures shouldn’t have any adverse effect on the resin. However, a heat source near a fresh, unclean, and uncured resin print may cause problems.
How Long Can a Resin Sit in a 3D Printer Tank Before Cleaning?
A resin can sit in a 3D printer tank with a UV-proof enclosure for its entire shelf life, but you must clean partially hardened resin from the vat so that it doesn’t affect a new print. Ideally, filter any unused liquid resin and store it in a sealed container in a dark place.
The shelf life and storage conditions of a resin depend on its type. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to handle, use, and store any type of 3D printer resin. Keep in mind that you may need to tweak the cleaning, drying, and curing methods based on the resin quality and model.
If you decide to keep any unused resin in the tank, ensure the hardened or partially cured bits don’t build up on the vat’s FEP film or silicone base. A clogged base or partial blockage won’t allow the UV lights of your 3D printer to pass and polymerize the liquid resin. This can result in missing layers and portions on a 3D model or a completely failed print.
Here’s an easy way to remove hardened resin from a 3D printer tank:
If you plan on allowing your resin prints to sit for a long time, make sure to protect them from UV light, solvents, extreme heat, and high humidity. Additionally, you should make sure to clean hardened or partially cured resin from the 3D printer tank or vat to avoid failed prints. Remember to transfer unused resin to a sealed container if you don’t plan to use it anytime soon.
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I started 3D printing since 2013 and have learned a lot since then. Because of this I want to share my knowledge of what I have learned in the past years with the community. Currently I own 2 Bambulab X1 Carbon, Prusa SL1S and a Prusa MK3S+. Hope you learn something from my blog after my years of experience in 3D printing.