The primary reason for washing 3D prints is to remove any residual resin left on the surface after the printing process. If you skip this crucial step, the remaining resin may cause your printed parts to feel sticky and compromise the overall finish of your object.
To wash your 3D prints, you’ll need a solvent, and Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) is often recommended for this purpose. However, if you can’t access IPA due to shortages or local restrictions, other recommended alternatives include TPM (Tripropylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether) or cleaning solutions designed for SLA printers like Form Wash. Remember to consult safety data sheets and always ensure proper ventilation when handling solvents.
Here are some quick tips for washing your 3D prints effectively:
1. Soak parts in the solvent and gently move them around to ensure that resin is removed from all surfaces.
2. Wash parts before removing their support structures.
3. For designs with narrow channels, consider using a syringe to clean out internal resin, preventing it from curing and blocking the channels.
In conclusion, washing your 3D prints is an essential step in the post-processing workflow. By following the tips mentioned above, you can ensure that your prints have a clean, polished appearance and function as intended. 
Understanding 3D Printing Materials and Their Properties
When diving into the world of 3D printing, it’s essential to understand the properties and types of materials you can use. This will enable you to create parts with the desired mechanical properties, functional characteristics, or appearance. There are two main types of plastics: thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics.
Thermoplastics are the most commonly used type of plastic in 3D printing. They can go through numerous melt and solidification cycles, making it possible to heat and form them into the desired shape. A common analogy for thermoplastics is butter, which can be melted, re-solidify and melted again. Some popular thermoplastics used for 3D printing include ABS and PLA.
On the other hand, thermosetting plastics, also known as thermosets, remain in a permanent solid state after curing. They undergo a curing process induced by heat, light, or suitable radiation, and cannot be re-melted or recycled. Think of thermosets like cake batter – once baked into a cake, it cannot be melted back into batter.
The three most established plastic 3D printing processes today are Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography (SLA), and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). FDM is a popular technique among hobbyist 3D printers and produces parts with lower resolution and accuracy. SLA uses a laser to cure liquid resins into hardened plastic, while SLS uses a high-powered laser to fuse small particles of thermoplastic powder.
Choosing the right material and understanding their properties is crucial for achieving the desired outcome for your 3D printing projects. Keep in mind the different types of plastics and 3D printing processes as you explore this fascinating world and create impressive 3D printed parts.
Methods for Washing Different Types of 3D Prints
If you’re into 3D printing, you know that washing your prints is an essential step to achieve a smooth, polished final product. Here are some tried and tested methods for washing different types of 3D prints:
1. Resin-based prints (SLA and DLP): Washing with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is the recommended method for removing uncured resin from SLA and DLP prints. Soak your parts in a container with IPA for 5-10 minutes, gently agitate to dislodge resin, and rinse with clean IPA to finish. Ensure proper ventilation when working with IPA and wear gloves to avoid skin irritation.
2. Alternative solvents for resin-based prints: Due to the global shortage of IPA or restrictions on its use, alternatives like propylene glycol, ethyl acetate, or Tripropylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether (TPM) can also be used, but be sure to follow safety guidelines for these solvents.
3. Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) prints: Depending on the material, FFF prints usually don’t require washing. However, for water-soluble support materials like PVA or HIPS, submerge your part in lukewarm water and gently remove supports using your hands or a tool like a scraper.
4. Cleaning intricate parts: For designs with narrow channels or intricate details, use a syringe, soft brush, or compressed air to clean out excess material or debris as required.
5. Final rinse and drying: After the initial washing, it’s essential to rinse your prints in clean water or a neutral cleaning solution and leave them to air dry. For better results, use a UV curing station or direct sunlight for curing resin-based prints.
No matter the type of 3D print, washing is a necessary step to achieve a polished, refined final product. Ensure you follow appropriate safety guidelines and have the right tools on hand to get the best results possible.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Washing 3D Prints
1. Over-soaking in alcohol: One common mistake is soaking the 3D print in alcohol for too long. This can weaken the print and cause it to break. Limit the soaking time to 1 minute in several rounds for optimal results.
2. Using abrasive brushes: While gently brushing the print can help in removing excess resin, using an abrasive brush (like a toothbrush) can scratch the surface. Opt for a soft brush for better results.
3. Skipping the double-wash method: Washing the print in two basins helps to remove all excess uncured resin effectively. Skipping this step might leave some residual resin on the surface, affecting the final product.
4. Not allowing the print to dry: Before moving onto the post-curing process, it’s important to let the 3D model dry completely. Allow it to dry for 30-60 minutes in a shaded area or use a compressed air gun to speed up the process.
5. Ignoring safety measures: Resin 3D printing involves the use of chemicals that can be hazardous if not handled properly. Ensure you wear appropriate safety gear and follow the recommended safety precautions when working with resin prints.
6. Using the wrong cleaning solution: Different types of 3D prints may require different cleaning solutions. For example, water-washable resins need a different cleaning method. Be sure to use the appropriate cleaning solution for your specific 3D print.
7. Not storing cleaning liquid properly: After washing, it’s crucial to store the cleaning liquid in an airtight container and away from direct sunlight to maintain its efficacy and avoid evaporation.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure the proper clean and cure of your 3D prints, resulting in high-quality and long-lasting finished products.
Conclusion: Keeping Your 3D Prints Clean and Durable
In conclusion, keeping your 3D prints clean and durable is not only essential for maintaining the quality of your prints but also ensures that they perform optimally. Whether you are working with resin or other materials in SLA 3D printing, taking the time to properly clean and cure your prints can make a significant difference in their appearance and functionality. By following proven techniques and using the right tools, you can ensure a successful post-processing experience that enhances your 3D printing experience.
To keep your 3D prints clean and durable, you can rely on the help of all-in-one solutions like Anycubic Wash & Cure, which not only wash your prints but also emit UV light to cure them. Alternatively, you can use Isopropyl Alcohol for washing and a UV station for curing if you’re on a tighter budget. Remember that curing your prints is essential for unlocking their full mechanical potential and enhancing their hardness, strength, and resistance to wear and tear.
Safety is crucial when handling resin in 3D printing. Make sure to use personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and a mask to minimize the risk for your health. Moreover, always work in a well-ventilated area when handling solvents such as Isopropyl Alcohol or other alternative wash solutions to avoid unwanted fumes and potential hazards.
By following these steps and taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure that your 3D prints are properly cleaned, cured, and ready to perform at their best, making them a valuable addition to your creations and projects. So, invest time and effort into maintaining the cleanliness and durability of your 3D prints to maximize their quality and functionality in the long run.