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Five Reasons Not To Clean Your 3D Resin Printer

Searching for resin printing tips? If so, you have undoubtedly run across tutorials about cleaning your 3D printer. After all, resin printing is messy. There are plenty of articles and videos about how to clean everything from the vat to the build plate. After hours of online research, one question I never saw answered was: “Do I need to clean everything after each print?”

After months of trial and error, I can tell you that in most cases, the answer is simple: “No, you don’t.”

Here are five reasons you don’t need to clean your printer after each print, especially the vat.

1. A lot of mess and trouble for nothing

There inevitably comes a time when you must empty the vat or clean the build plate. Some reasons for this could be a failed print, changing resins, realigning the build plate, or replacing a damaged Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) film.

You could also be moving the printer or retiring it. But if you are printing on a daily, or even weekly basis, why bother? Get your print off the build plate and put it back on the printer. Give the build plate a quick once-over with a paper towel to remove any tiny particles before the next print.

2. A waste of resin

Keep in mind that in the process of cleaning, you are removing resin from the vat and/or build plate. A squeaky-clean vat or build plate may look neat, but it wastes precious resin that could be put back into action.

Adding Resin is expensive!

3. You risk damaging the FEP

The FEP at the bottom of the vat is very fragile. Even removing failed prints can cause a puncture. Cleaning the FEP requires a delicate touch. Paper towels will scratch it and even microfiber cloths can make it dull over time.

When I clean the vat, I only use a “tank clean” which exposes the bottom layer of resin for 10-15 seconds. Then I scrape that thin layer out and leave the resin intact. Again, why waste resin when you don’t need to?

There are times when you need to fully drain and clean the vat. This is typically done only when replacing the FEP.

4. You could misalign the build plate

Build plates do not like to be jostled around. Large prints can force the build plate out of alignment. Dropping them also puts them out of position. (Ask me how I know this!) The less you handle a build plate the better, which is why cleaning them puts the alignment at risk.

There are only a couple of reasons why the build plate should be cleaned. One involves a build plate alignment since the paper you put under the build plate would get soaked along with your precious LCD screen. The other would be to remove chunks of stuck-on resin. If you’re using a removable magnetic plate, then cleaning should be rare because the resin pieces would simply pop right off.

The build plate is aligned and printing happily. Let’s leave it alone to do its job!

5. It’s expensive

Resin printing costs money. Obviously, buying resin, parts, and cleaning solutions is necessary. But what about the secondary costs? Gloves, cleaners, paper towels, and paint strainers may be inexpensive separately, but if you are printing on a daily basis, the costs will start to add up.

Instead of spending money on cleaning supplies, get some reusable gloves. Save the cleaners for the times you really do need to clean your vat and/or build plate. Paper towels should only be used to clean drips or wipe down the print surface of the build plate. Use paint strainers to empty the vat when the FEP needs to be replaced or after a failed print when stuff is floating around in the resin.

The bottom line

If you’re like me, you love to print and hate to clean. Let’s do more of the first and less of the latter. With a vat full of resin that’s ready to go, you’ll always be ready to print those minis at a moment’s notice. Just remember to give the vat a stir first!

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About the Author

James Geary

I'm a system administrator by day and a 3D-printing wizard by night. I take care of the printers at

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