Properly maintaining your 3D printer is the best and most important way to ensure the optimal performance and longevity of your 3D printing machine. By disregarding these maintenance tips and procedures, you are guaranteed to have bad prints and malfunctioning parts. Here at TriMech, we don’t want to see your investment go to the scrapyard just because the maintenance on the machine was neglected. There are four maintenance categories that you want to focus on, and we’ll cover them in this article. They are head cleaning, maintenance wizards, material storage, and machine cleaning.
Head cleaning is the most important aspect of your PolyJet machine. It’s important to do this before and after every print. If it’s not cleaned immediately after use, the resin will sit on the heads and clog them. You want to make sure that you do after every print, and it’s best to use a lint-free cloth and isopropyl alcohol. When wiping the heads, wiping in one direction is the proper way. Don’t wipe back and forth because resin that was just wiped off onto the cleaning cloth will be smeared back into the head when going the other way. Not a lot of pressure is necessary. Let the isopropyl alcohol do the work. When clearing the heads of resin, it’s also recommended to clean the rollers as well. Again, rub gently and let the isopropyl alcohol do the work.
The Head Cleaner Wizard is just one of the many wizards that are available on the onboard computer of a PolyJet machine. All maintenance features are bundled into these wizards. One feature, for example, is the Head Calibration Wizard, which optimizes the printing head to ensure that it’s dispensing the right amount of resin. So, if you’re running into issues with the material not being weighed correctly in the material bed, start with running the Calibration Wizard. Wizards are the best line of defense when calibrating and determining if the hardware parts are performing at optimal levels.
When storing PolyJet resin material, it’s best to store it in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight. The sunlight will act as a UV light and cure the resin. PolyJet material has a hard shelf life of 12 to 18 months, depending on the material. If trying to load expired material, the PolyJet machine will display a warning saying the material is expired and will not accept it. Just one more item to note about material storage: PolyJet canisters are molded and constructed with a liner inside, so you do want to be careful handling them. If dropped and the mold is cracked, the resin will ooze out making for a costly spill. You do want to be a little bit more careful handling them as opposed to a spool of FDA filament material.
Machine Cleaning for Optimal Performance
Keeping the build area clean is key to optimal printing results. When a PolyJet machine begins a print, it will lay down a few layers of model material before the support material. As you take parts off the tray, you’ll notice that there’s a layer of model material that’s left on the tray. The best method is to use a razor blade, or scraper, and scrape the excess material so that your next print is starting with optimal conditions. In this case, we can use Simple Green. It’s a good all-around cleaner for cleaning the build tray without leaving any residue. Lastly, PolyJet machines create a waste resin that is kept in a waste container in the lower part of the machine. This is uncured resin in a bag, so make sure that is waste resin is handled like any other hazardous waste. It’s not something that can be dumped down the sink drain. It is a large amount of resin, so it is important that you handle it like any other hazmat material.
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