A 3D printer is a finely tooled piece of equipment. To ensure your projects emerge as close to perfection as possible, you’ll need to perform regular, minor maintenance on the printer. Don’t be intimidated—this doesn’t require an engineering degree! Most 3D printer maintenance involves simple cleaning and upkeep. This article can help you get started. Here’s a selection of 3D printer maintenance tips to know about.
Clean the Print Bed and Build Plate After Each Use
When you buy a brand-new 3D printer, everything should work perfectly—for a while. But in order to ensure that quality, you need to perform basic and regular maintenance. For example, when a print is created by a 3D printer, a slightly sticky surface is required to keep the print from moving. Movement can cause the print to warp, or even get wrapped, which is when the printed object bunches up against itself, ruining the print.
Treat your bed and plate with a glue stick or a similar adhesive. After each print job, remove the glue with a clean cloth dipped in warm water. You can also remove any residual plastic. Getting rid of the adhesive provides a clean surface and can help prevent flaws in future prints.
A Well-Oiled Machine
Well, maybe not too well-oiled. Your printer, like many machines with moving parts, requires a little lubrication to work smoothly and efficiently. Periodically, after every 200 to 250 hours of use, add a touch of sewing machine oil (mineral oil), white lithium grease, or silicone and Teflon lubricants to your printer’s rods and rails. Not too much, though. Excessive oiling can make the surface stick, which gathers dust, which in turn can cause mechanical problems down the line. Use an oil that doesn’t react badly with plastic. You don’t want an inopportune drip dissolving and mucking up your print.
One very important part of 3D printers to keep clean is the nozzle that emits the hot plastic. If it’s left alone, the nozzle will slowly accumulate melted and cooled-off plastic, which will eventually clog up and rendering the nozzle and its attached mechanism useless. A wire brush is a handy tool for performing nozzle cleaning. Turn off the printer (this will prevent the possibility of shorting the system with the metal bristles) and let it briefly cool, then give it a few careful strokes, removing any residual plastic while it’s still warm. Several sites recommend also cleaning off the heater block while you’re at it. If you do this, ensure the machine has time to cool down so you don’t burn yourself.
Keep It Tight and Right
To close out this list of 3D printer maintenance tips to know about, don’t forget to keep an eye out for mechanical issues. Ensure all the connections are tight and secure. Ensure the belts have the proper amount of tension and tighten the pulley screws as well. Remember to keep the firmware on your printer updated. Watch for parts that are on their way out so you can buy replacements.
Whether you need to buy 3D printers online or have questions about purchasing and maintaining your machine, contact us!