[Solved] Cleaning the steel sheets (smooth and coated)  

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sprocket314
(@sprocket314)
Active Member

What is the correct way of cleaning the smooth steel sheet and how often should it be cleaned?

Same question for the coated steel sheet, which I believe it is a different way of cleaning it.

I am a total beginner, so further details would be much appreciated.

Many thanks in advance!

Carlos

Best Answer by jsw:

I was not sure where you were from or what your native language was.

Chapter and verse in the 3d Printing Handbook says:

"Cleaning the surface is very easy. The best option is ​ Isopropyl alcohol ​ available in
drugstores which is the best for ABS, PLA, and others. Except for PETG in combination with
the smooth PEI sheet, where the adhesion may be too strong, use Windex instead as it
degreases less thoroughly. Pour a little amount on an unscented paper towel and wipe the
print surface. The bed should be cleaned while cold for the best results but it can also be
cleaned when already preheated for PLA, just be careful not to touch the bed surface or the
nozzle. When cleaning at higher temperatures, the alcohol will evaporate before it can clean
14anything. Alternatively, you can clean the bed with ​ warm water and a few drops of dish
soap​ on a paper towel. ​ Denatured alcohol​ is yet another option."

In addition, a blog entry titled How To print On a Powder-coated Sheet states (referring specifically to the Prusa textured sheet):

Do:

 Degrease the sheet with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) 90%+

 Print without any adhesive or separation layers

 Print standard materials (PETG, PLA, ABS, CPE, FLEX, etc.)

 Remove prints after the cooldown

 Bend the sheet to remove printed objects

Don’t:

 Use acetone and other agents

 Print with adhesive or separation layers

 Wash the sheet with water

 Remove printed objects before cooldown

 Use any instruments (spatula) to remove the printed object

Posted : 27/10/2020 6:19 pm
cwbullet
(@cwbullet)
Famed Member

You will find at least 1000 answers.  

I use IPA primarily.  When it stops sticking, I use dish soap, water, and a non-scratch sponge.  

This post was modified 1 month ago by cwbullet
--------------------
Chuck H
3D Printer Review Blog...
Posted : 28/10/2020 1:09 am
JoanTabb
(@joantabb)
Moderator

Hi Carlos, 

Different folks, Different strokes... 

My way, is to take the build plate to the kitchen sink,  wash WELL with dish soap and HOT water, 
Rinse well with hot water, and dry well with plain paper towels, keeping your finger grease off the build surface.
don't use anything else... no IPA, 
this works well for both build plates. 

But beware some filaments stick really well... PETG and TPU often stick incredibly well, so often people use adhesion reducers... 

LIKE:-
GLUE STICK
HAIRSPRAY
WINDEX

If you have difficulty removing a print, try dribbling IPA around the print, let it soak a while, then  try removing again

Good luck, 
Joan

I try to make safe suggestions,You should understand the context and ensure you are happy that they are safe before attempting to apply my suggestions, what you do, is YOUR responsibility. Location Halifax UK...
Posted : 28/10/2020 1:16 am
cwbullet
(@cwbullet)
Famed Member

@joantabb

I use a similar scrubber that is more green.  Can't get these in the US.  

--------------------
Chuck H
3D Printer Review Blog...
Posted : 28/10/2020 1:17 am
jsw
 jsw
(@jsw)
Noble Member

TFM says that Isopropyl Alcohol is the preferred solvent to use.  Denatured alcohol and dish soap are also mentioned in TFM.

Some will state, and quite defensively, that their way is the only way to clean them.

Personally, I think it matters much less what you use or how you do it than the fact that you are cleaning your sheets and that they are spotless.  A stray fingerprint will kill your 3d print.

One warning that TFM makes is to not use acetone on the textured sheet.  Some here have, however, reported doing it.

As to what I use, normally 99% technical grade IPA.  I'll also occasionally use denatured alcohol, particularly when removing glue or Layerneer residue.  I'll occasionally use acetone on the smooth sheets, but never on the textured sheet.  I have very few failed prints, so I must be doing a few things right.

This post was modified 1 month ago 2 times by jsw
Posted : 28/10/2020 1:56 am
--
 -2
(@-2)
Illustrious Member

Smooth Sheet: soap and water. Alcohol can remove some stuff, but generally just spreads oils around into microscopic invisible layer; so folks have to use glue or adhesive products to get filament to stick to their beds. 

Textured sheet: if you are lucky to get one that PLA likes, again soap and water works well, but the water must be heat dried out of the texture. 

Alcohol can work, but requires copious amounts, and an ultra clean rag that is changed regularly. Gloves help since the alcohol will just as easily take oil from your fingers and redeposit it to the sheet.  People with seriously dry skin seem to do better with alcohol. I was that way when younger - never left finger prints on anything - not so today.

Why soap and water? It is a matter of volume. You can use gallons of hot water to seriously scrub and clean the bed to get all of the oil and other stuff they collect washed off.   

It is always wise to get more than one opinion... as for trusting Prusa? No way man....
Posted : 28/10/2020 3:03 am
sprocket314
(@sprocket314)
Active Member

Thank you all for your great answers!

I think the consensus is hot water and dish-washing liquid in the first instance.

And be super careful with fingerprints! I think I'll start wearing gloves when handling the sheets as I have very fatty fingers...

Posted : 28/10/2020 9:02 am
sprocket314
(@sprocket314)
Active Member

One final question, you all mention TFM. What does TFM stand for? The Forum Members?

Posted : 28/10/2020 9:03 am
jsw
 jsw
(@jsw)
Noble Member
Posted by: @carlosmorenoserrano

One final question, you all mention TFM. What does TFM stand for? The Forum Members?

The manual, as in the 'official' recommendation from Prusa.

Shortened from 'RTFM', which is a common humorous admonition to read the manual in vernacular English, used in North America and the UK.  😉

Posted : 28/10/2020 9:09 am
sprocket314
(@sprocket314)
Active Member

@jsw

🤣 I was familiar with RTFM as I work in IT, but did not make the connection. Now I do!

Thanks!

Posted : 28/10/2020 9:13 am
cwbullet
(@cwbullet)
Famed Member

People freak out about the use of acetone.  Prusa says don't use it.  

It is an absolute last resort.

Cleaning:

  1. Isopropyl Alcohol with a lint-free towel
  2. If that fails, dish liquid and water with a scrubber sponge.  
  3. If that fails, I recheck my Z offset.
  4. After repeat 1 and 2, I consider Acetone.  Acetone resets the surface.  I quickly pour on, wipes off, and wash with dish soap and water.  Very limited exposure with no time to soak into the surface.  
--------------------
Chuck H
3D Printer Review Blog...
Posted : 28/10/2020 9:22 am
jsw
 jsw
(@jsw)
Noble Member

I was not sure where you were from or what your native language was.

Chapter and verse in the 3d Printing Handbook says:

"Cleaning the surface is very easy. The best option is ​ Isopropyl alcohol ​ available in
drugstores which is the best for ABS, PLA, and others. Except for PETG in combination with
the smooth PEI sheet, where the adhesion may be too strong, use Windex instead as it
degreases less thoroughly. Pour a little amount on an unscented paper towel and wipe the
print surface. The bed should be cleaned while cold for the best results but it can also be
cleaned when already preheated for PLA, just be careful not to touch the bed surface or the
nozzle. When cleaning at higher temperatures, the alcohol will evaporate before it can clean
14anything. Alternatively, you can clean the bed with ​ warm water and a few drops of dish
soap​ on a paper towel. ​ Denatured alcohol​ is yet another option."

In addition, a blog entry titled How To print On a Powder-coated Sheet states (referring specifically to the Prusa textured sheet):

Do:

 Degrease the sheet with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) 90%+

 Print without any adhesive or separation layers

 Print standard materials (PETG, PLA, ABS, CPE, FLEX, etc.)

 Remove prints after the cooldown

 Bend the sheet to remove printed objects

Don’t:

 Use acetone and other agents

 Print with adhesive or separation layers

 Wash the sheet with water

 Remove printed objects before cooldown

 Use any instruments (spatula) to remove the printed object

Posted : 28/10/2020 9:26 am
cwbullet
(@cwbullet)
Famed Member

@jsw

They are referring to routine cleaning and not last-ditch efforts to save a sheet.  Sheets do not last forever.  I have several that are over 2 years old that are reserved for over sticking filament and often need restoring.  I should probably toss them, but they still work with a little acetone.  I have used them for well over 2 years.  Read what I posted, I made it clear that you should try 1, 2, and 3 first.  Follow that with 1 and 2 again.  4 should be very rare.  In nearly 3 years, I have done it 3-4 times.  It just plain works.  If you considering throwing the sheet away, it is worth a try.   

This post was modified 1 month ago by cwbullet
--------------------
Chuck H
3D Printer Review Blog...
Posted : 28/10/2020 9:37 am
jsw
 jsw
(@jsw)
Noble Member
Posted by: @charles-h13

People freak out about the use of acetone.  Prusa says don't use it.   

IIAC, Prusa says to NOT use acetone on the textured sheets, but mentions it twice, once in the context of 'Rejuvenate with acetone from time to time' on the smooth sheet, and then in the context of removing 'ABS Juice' from the smooth sheet.

Users have found, mainly from trial and error, that certain things do and do not work for them.  Some of these are contradictory and some contradict the recommendations from Prusa.  We really need to agree to disagree on some of these things.  The cleaning of sheets seems to be the most contentious.  Lubrication of bearings is another.  Prusa says that the lube that comes with the bearings is adequate for the purpose Prusa intends it.  Others claim, quite assertively, that the printer will destroy itself and the world will end unless you carefully remove the supplied lube and repack the bearings with their brand of lubricant.

Whether or not to store your filament in a dry box and/or dry it in an oven/dehydrator/whatever seems to be another point of disagrement.

This post was modified 1 month ago 2 times by jsw
Posted : 28/10/2020 9:39 am
cwbullet
(@cwbullet)
Famed Member

@jsw

Good points.   

Either way, acetone should be a last resort and should be removed instantly.  No soaking.  

--------------------
Chuck H
3D Printer Review Blog...
Posted : 28/10/2020 9:42 am
Baklin
(@baklin)
Eminent Member
Posted by: @jsw

 

 Remove printed objects before cooldown

 Use any instruments (spatula) to remove the printed object

 

I sometimes want to start the next print quickly and remove it before cooldown. I know I shouldn´t but to anyway. But I have to see the PETG releases easily after the bed cooled down to around 60°c on the textured sheet.

 

And to avoid getting fingerprints on the bed I used a printed spatula. I only use this to get the rafts or brim of the bed. The pla spatula doesn´t damage the bed.

I can do many prints without any extra cleaning as long as I don´t get fingerprints on the sheet.

Posted : 28/10/2020 11:58 am
sprocket314
(@sprocket314)
Active Member

@baklin

The PLA spatula idea sounds really good to me. The one I got from Prusa looks like it would make so much damage to the sheet that I always try to avoid using it.

Do you guys have a rule of thumb on how many prints in the same area of the sheet you can do without cleaning it again?

I imagine that if the first layer does not stick any more, it is time to clean the sheet...

Posted : 28/10/2020 12:04 pm
cwbullet
(@cwbullet)
Famed Member

@baklin

I think the key thing is to let it cool down significantly.  Some PETG filaments can be harder to remove when completely cool.  

--------------------
Chuck H
3D Printer Review Blog...
Posted : 28/10/2020 12:19 pm
--
 -2
(@-2)
Illustrious Member

Add this to the list of reasons alcohol isn't the best for removing fingerprints. Different line of work, but still applies.

https://www.quora.com/Does-rubbing-alcohol-get-rid-of-fingerprints

It is always wise to get more than one opinion... as for trusting Prusa? No way man....
Posted : 28/10/2020 2:05 pm
towlerg
(@towlerg)
Honorable Member

@tim-m30

Full disclosure, too lazy to read whole article but the final para "... get those fingerprints your kids left all over it. In that case, rubbing alcohol works great. Mix it with some water and use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe." Doesn't that appear to be a vote for alcohol?

Posted : 28/10/2020 2:33 pm
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