Resin printers are fantastic toys, but the maintenance can feel a little daunting. If you’ve recently acquired a new resin printer, you may be wondering just how on earth you’re supposed to clean the thing and how often.
Resin printers should be cleaned before storing away for any extended periods and every time you have a print fail. This is because bits of hard resin floating around in the vat can cause future printing issues or ruin your FEP. It’s best not to clean it too often, though, as the FEP is delicate.
In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the steps for cleaning your resin printer, what you’ll need for this process, and how long you should leave resin in the vat.
How Long Can You Leave Resin in a Printer?
Fresh resin is safe to leave in the vat overnight, and there’s no need to clean your printer after every use. In fact, it’s discouraged.
But how do you know when it’s time to clean?
Resin can be left in a 3D printer vat for about a year. However, since resin is highly light-sensitive, it will expire more quickly if exposed to light. Therefore, the printer should be stored somewhere dark and cool. Check the expiry date on the package to ensure the resin will last.
That said, some users have left resin for longer without issues. So, how long resin will last in a printer is dependent on a few different factors, such as:
- How much UV exposure the resin receives. In a matter of days, sunlight can quickly render your resin unusable. So, keep the blinds closed and the resin covered to prolong its life.
- How warm the room you’re storing your resin is. 70°F (21.11°C) is the ideal temperature at which you should store resin. Resin is highly susceptible to heat and can quickly yellow when exposed to high or frequent temperature changes.
- How old your resin is. Even resin sealed in the original packaging eventually will go bad. So be sure to check your expiration dates when pouring new resin into your vat.
As you can see, many factors can affect how long your resin will be functional. But if you follow all of the above steps, you’ll be able to prolong your resin’s lifespan significantly.
That said, a quick look on user forums will give you many different answers. Some report that they’ve had success keeping their resin good for up to two months when stored under these conditions. And, many manufacturers say the same – provided it’s stored correctly.
Other users claim to have left unused resin in their vats for up to a year, where some have significant difficulty getting it to survive more than a few days outside of its packaging.
With all that in mind, I suggest going by the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you leave resin too long, it will start to spoil and/or cure, which will be much harder to clean.
How To Clean a Resin Printer
Now that you know how often you should be cleaning your resin printer, let’s talk about the process. As mentioned, the FEP is delicate, so too many cleanings can actually be harmful to the printer. The same goes for excessively rough cleanings.
That means you’ll need to be gentle and find a routine that works best for your printer. For example, if you run out of resin, you’ll want to clean the vat to keep the material from curing.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t be emptying and cleaning it after every use.
Luckily, the overall process for cleaning a resin printer isn’t very complicated as long as you keep up with your printer’s regular maintenance.
To clean your resin printer properly, you’ll need:
- A rubber spatula or scraper
- A bottle or airtight container to pour the unused resin back into
- A paint strainer or some other kind of filter to strain the resin
- A funnel
- An ammonia-free cleaner such as the Swingline Sprayway Glass Cleaner (available on Amazon.com)
- Microfiber cloth
- Paper towels
Once you have all the equipment, here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Remove the build plate. Then, gently clean off all residual resin using paper towels and glass cleaner.
- Place the filter into the funnel and place it into the bottle. Ensure the funnel and filter are secure when you begin pouring in the resin.
- Retrieve the vat and start pouring. Pour from the side of the vat with the built-in pour slot and go slowly.
- Scrape the rest of the resin from the vat with the rubber spatula. Take your time. Do your best to scrape as much resin from the vat as you can before moving on to the next step.
- Remove any large chunks of dried resin from your FEP. When removing cured resin from your FEP, you must delicately do so with a rubber spatula or scraper.
- Clean the vat with a microfiber cloth. Then, carefully clean the remaining resin out, ensuring to get into all crevices where resin is still sticking.
- Take paper towels with glass cleaner and clean any residual resin. Be sure also to clean any resin that may have become stuck on the outside of the vat.
- Clean your tools. This will avoid resin hardening and the need for new tools.
- Once dry, reassemble the resin printer. Now that everything is clean, the printer will be ready to print again.
When cleaning a resin printer, it’s essential to be gentle and do your best not to scrape the FEP or allow the resin to dry and harden in unwanted places.
As previously discussed, you must clean your resin printer after any failed prints. This will help you preserve your resin supply and keep your printer functional.
For a more detailed guide on cleaning out a resin printer, you should check out Slice Print Roleplays’ in-depth video on cleaning out a printer vat. They do a great job of walking you through the whole process.
Here’s the YouTube video:
Ultimately how often you should clean your resin printer comes down to how often you experience bad prints. Therefore, it’s recommended that you clean out your resin printer after EVERY failed print to avoid jamming up future prints.
If you’ve recently had a print fail or notice hard bits of resin floating in your vat, it’s definitely time to give your printer a quick clean.
The overall process for cleaning out your printer is relatively simple and can be done quite quickly, and regular cleaning will save you time and money in the long run.