Resin tanks are consumables and require replacement. Expect to replace a standard Resin Tank after 1,000-3,000 layers of printing over an area of the elastic layer or when wear on the elastic layer begins to affect print quality.
Maintain and clean each standard Resin Tank using Formlabs instructions to maximize tank performance and to ensure consistent, high-quality prints over a tank’s lifetime.
NOTE:This article features instructions for maintaining standard Resin Tanks. For instructions on maintaining Resin Tank LT, view Resin Tank LT: Maintenance and Care.
Standard Resin Tank Care Overview
The standard Resin Tank features an amber polycarbonate frame with a clear acrylic tank window and an elastic layer. The tank contains the liquid resin during prints. Before curing a layer of liquid resin during a print, the laser passes through two optical surfaces on standard Resin Tanks: the clear acrylic tank window located on the underside of the tank, and the elastic layer that lines the tank bottom.
For optimal printing results, avoid using a resin tank if the clear acrylic tank window or the elastic layer is damaged or contaminated. Damage or contamination on these two optical surfaces can cause the laser light to diffuse and can lead to a variety of print failures including the following: partially completed prints, poor base or support formation, non-adherence issues, or surface finish issues.
Standard Resin Tank lifetime
While a combination of factors, such as print volume, model geometry, layer thickness, resin type, and model orientation and layout, determines the individual lifetime of a tank, a well-maintained standard Resin Tank with average use typically preserves print quality up to 1-1.5 liters of resin.
TIP:Standard Resin Tanks may wear more quickly and may print less accurately with some materials and with different layer heights. Learn more about resin tank compatibility for Formlabs materials.
Replace standard Resin Tanks when wear or "clouding" on the elastic layer begins to affect print quality or when there is substantial damage to the elastic layer or the clear acrylic tank window.
To prolong the life of standard Resin Tanks, keep the clear acrylic tank window clean, use the Layout toolbar in PreForm to print outside worn areas of the elastic layer, and inspect inside the tank regularly for any debris, cured resin, or failed prints.
When wear on the elastic layer begins to impact the desired print quality, we recommend changing to a new resin tank.
Inspecting standard Resin Tanks
Inspect standard Resin Tanks after print failures or when switching to a different tank. After print failures, check the tank interior and exterior for any contamination or damage. To mitigate future print failures, clean any contamination and check for damage before resuming prints.
Checking the standard Resin Tank interior
Each new resin tank includes a new wiper, which helps to maintain the tank interior and to prolong tank lifetime. Between each layer of printing, the wiper slides across the elastic layer to mix the resin, clear debris from the optical path, and prevent pigment from settling into the elastic layer.
To supplement the cleaning function of the wiper, use the scraper included in the finish kit or with Form Wash to inspect the tank interior. The tank interior includes the elastic layer and the resin inside the tank. Check the tank interior for any cured resin, failed prints, debris, settled pigment, or any wear on the elastic layer.
TIP:Always wear clean gloves when handling resin or optical surfaces.
To inspect the standard Resin Tank interior:
1. Use the scraper from the finish kit to inspect the resin and the elastic layer. Starting from the top corner, gently scrape from top to bottom across the elastic layer.
2. Check for the following issues that may lead to print failures or any excessive wear that requires replacing the tank:
- cured resin on the elastic layer
- debris or failed prints in the resin
- settled pigment on the elastic layer
- punctures, cuts, or gouges in the elastic layer
- excessive “clouding” or wear in the elastic layer
Follow cleaning instructions to remove cured resin, failed prints, debris, and settled pigment. For moderate wear or scratches on the elastic layer, use the Layout toolbar in PreForm to print outside the worn or scratched area. In the case of excessive wear or scratches on the elastic layer, replace the tank.
Checking the standard Resin Tank exterior
Check the clear acrylic window on the underside of the tank for fingerprints, dust, contamination, and scratches, which cause the laser light to diffuse and lead to print failures or inaccuracies.
To inspect the tank window, carefully lift the tank using an overhand grip on the tank grips, as if holding a pair of binoculars. Tilt the tank—only slightly to avoid spillage—until a reflective glare reveals any dust, fingerprints, or scratches on the surface.
To preserve print performance, use cleaning instructions to remove any fingerprints, dust, or contamination on the tank window before printing. In the case of scratches on the resin tank window, either use the Layout toolbar in PreForm to print outside the scratched area, or replace the tank.
Cleaning standard Resin Tanks
Clean standard Resin Tanks after print failures. Remove any cured resin on the elastic layer, discard print failures, and filter out debris. Clean any contamination on the clear acrylic tank window.
Follow the instructions below to safely clean the tank interior, the acrylic tank window, and the exterior tank frame. In the case of damage, diagnose the damage and assess if the tank requires replacing.
Cleaning the standard Resin Tank interior
Print failures: Remove and discard any print failures by hand or with the scraper. To remove smaller print failures or parts, use a fine-toothed comb with the teeth facing the bottom of the tank. Starting from the top corner, sweep the comb slowly, from top to bottom and then up, across the elastic layer.
Cured resin on the elastic layer: Gently slide the scraper under the cured resin. Use the scraper at a shallow angle to peel and remove the cured resin from the elastic layer.
Debris or contamination in the resin: Use a filter to remove any debris or small bits of cured resin floating in the tank. Clean, debris-free resin helps avoid print failures, which may damage the tank.
Settled pigment in the resin: Resin pigment can settle onto the elastic layer. To supplement the mixing function of the wiper, slide the scraper against the elastic layer to remove settled pigment.
Cleaning the acrylic tank window
Remove dust, fingerprints, or contamination on the clear acrylic tank window to ensure optimal printing results.
Clean the clear acrylic tank window on the underside of the tank with a plastic cleaner, such as NOVUS No. 1 Plastic Clean and Shine, and a microfiber cloth.
To clean the clear acrylic tank window:
1. Inspect the tank window
TIP:Wear gloves and hold the tank by the front tabs, sides, or rim to avoid getting fingerprints on or scratching the underside of the tank window.
After emptying resin from the tank, use the glare from a secondary light source to check the clear acrylic tank window for dust, fingerprints, or contamination.
2. Clean the tank window
If dust, fingerprints, and/or contamination are present, clean the clear acrylic tank window with NOVUS No. 1 and a clean microfiber cloth. The clear acrylic tank window is located on the underside of the resin tank. Apply 1-2 full sprays of NOVUS No. 1, and wipe using long, sweeping strokes top to bottom and across the tank window. Fold the microfiber cloth after each swipe to prevent dust and debris from scratching the acrylic.
CAUTION:Never use IPA to clean the acrylic tank window. IPA may cause cracks in the acrylic tank window, which can lead to resin spills and other damage to the tank and potentially to the printer.
3. Reinspect the tank window
Check the tank window again using a secondary light source. Repeat cleaning as necessary to achieve a crystal clear tank window.
Cleaning the tank frame exterior
Use a paper towel to clean resin from the exterior of the polycarbonate tank frame. Keep the sides of the tank clean and free of resin to prevent the lid from sticking to the side, which may lead to cracks in the tank frame. Avoid resin on the clear acrylic tank window because the contamination may result in print failures.
CAUTION:Never use IPA or other chemical solutions to clean the polycarbonate tank frame. IPA and other chemical cleaners may cause cracks in the polycarbonate, which can lead to resin spills and other damage to the tank and potentially to the printer.
Diagnosing Damage and Wear
The elastic layer on the standard Resin Tank expires over time from repeat exposure to laser light and peel forces during printing.
Learn how to recognize wear and damage on the elastic layer and methods for extending the tank lifetime.
Note: The sample images below show the elastic layer on standard Resin Tanks viewed through the underside of the acrylic tank window.
Minimal damage and wear
A damage-free tank with minimal wear exhibits a clear, smooth elastic layer without gouges, cuts, and punctures.Light scratching and indentations from normal wear may be visible.
Over time, cloudy regions develop in the elastic layer. This effect, called “clouding”, occurs from repeated exposure to laser or printing activity and traces the laser’s path. Clouding can range from slight and translucent to heavy and opaque.
Use the Layout toolbar in PreForm to print outside the clouded area to preserve print performance depending on the degree of clouding and the required print accuracy and quality.
Translucent areas appear on the clear elastic layer. Slight clouding is subtle and may require closer inspection to detect.
Areas with slight clouding may affect accuracy and print quality for parts printed at higher resolutions. Slight clouding should not significantly affect accuracy and print quality for parts printed at lower resolutions.
Translucent areas are more noticeable in the clear elastic layer. Moderate clouding is easily visible.
Areas with moderate clouding affect the print accuracy and quality of printed parts. Avoid printing on areas with moderate clouding, and replace the tank to restore the optimal print accuracy and quality.
Frosted or near-opaque areas are prevalent in the elastic layer. Heavy clouding is easily visible.
Areas with heavy clouding significantly reduce print quality and accuracy and can lead to print failures. Replace tanks with heavy clouding to avoid print failures and to restore print performance.
Damage: Gouges, punctures, and cuts
A tank with gouges, punctures, or cuts requires replacement.
Gouges, punctures, and cuts in the elastic layer bend light and prevent the laser from curing resin properly. Gouges, punctures, and cuts may also cause resin to seep into and to cure under the elastic layer, which can lead to further damage.
Common causes for gouges, punctures, and cuts include:
- using excessive force to scrape the elastic layer
- print failures
A scratch in the elastic layer or acrylic optical window may cause lines to appear across the printed part. The scratch deflects or blocks the laser and prevents resin from curing at the correct coordinate on the print, which affects print accuracy and surface finish. Use the Layout toolbar in PreForm to print outside the scratched area, or replace the tank if the scratches are unavoidable.
To prevent scratches on the elastic layer, avoid wiping the elastic layer with paper towels or other textured materials.
Troubleshooting other forms of wear or damage
While rare, other forms of wear or damage may occur to the elastic layer. For additional assistance in the case of wear or damage beyond the examples listed above, contact Formlabs Support with the resin type and with focused, well-lit images of the elastic layer on the standard Resin Tank.
Extending tank lifetime
Clouding is normal and expected over the lifetime of a standard Resin Tank. Follow these best practices to extend standard Resin Tank lifetime.
- Inspect the tank frequently for debris, and clean up failed prints immediately. Remove failed prints and debris in the tank to protect the elastic layer from physical damage.
- Use the Layout tool in PreForm to avoid repeatedly exposing the same areas of the elastic layer to the laser light. Print on different areas of the build platform to evenly distribute exposure to the laser and peel forces across the elastic layer.
- Use the Orient tool in PreForm to print parts at a angle. Print parts at an angle to achieve the smallest surface area per layer possible. This reduces the area of the elastic layer exposed to the laser and to peel forces.
- Print parts at the thickest acceptable layer height. Consistent printing at high resolutions leads to faster clouding in the elastic layer. High resolutions expose the elastic layer to two times (at 50 microns) or four times (at 25 microns) more laser activity, when compared to 100 micron layers. Concentrated laser activity increases the rate of clouding.
- Use only Formlabs cleaning instructions to avoid damage to the elastic layer. Never use any chemical cleaning solutions on the elastic layer.
Replacing standard Resin Tanks
Follow the steps below to transfer resin from the damaged or expired tank to a new tank or a separate, opaque container. If necessary, purchase a new or spare tank in the Form Store.
TIP:Always wear clean gloves when handling resin or optical surfaces.
1. Remove the resin tank
TIP:Always remove the build platform before removing the resin tank to avoid dripping resin onto the optical window.
With the build platform removed, pull the wiper toward the front of the printer to release the wiper insertion foot from the wiper mount. Set the wiper aside, resting it on the far right edge of the resin tank. Manually slide the wiper mount to the center. Cover the resin tank with the plastic lid. Hold the front tabs of the resin tank. Gently pull the front tabs of the resin tank to release the tank feet from the tank carrier.
2. Transfer or dispose of the remaining resin
Pour the resin from the old tank to the new tank or another container. If there is debris in the resin, filter the resin before transferring it to a new tank.
Pouring resin back into the original cartridge may risk contaminating the cartridge with cured resin pieces or debris, which can cause print failures.
3. Cure excess resin in the tank
Use a paper towel to wipe any remaining resin off the old tank. Place the old tank in sunlight (a window sill is fine) or UV light to cure excess resin, and dispose of properly once dry. Do not pour liquid resin down the drain. Follow instructions in the Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
Storing standard Resin Tanks
Store resin tanks in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Use the plastic tank lid to protect any resin in the tank and stack multiple tanks for easy storage.
Keep all resin tanks out of direct sunlight to preserve the material properties of the resin. Learn more about resin lifetime and storage.
Always store tanks containing resin with the lid installed. While the tinted polycarbonate of the tank frame blocks wavelengths of light that can cure resin, the top and underside of each tank may remain exposed to light. When storing resin tanks outside the printer, protect exposed parts of the tank from ambient light, which can cure or degrade the material properties of the resin inside the tank.
Store tanks on clean, level surfaces that prevent light from passing or reflecting through the clear tank window on the underside of the tank. Choose a location outside of direct sunlight, such as the original packaging box or a storage cabinet. Prevent dust or abrasive objects from touching the tank window. Consider placing a low-lint material, such as microfiber cloth, underneath the tank to protect the tank window from scratches.
Resin lifetime inside standard Resin Tanks
Store unexpired resin in a standard Resin Tank either inside the printer with the cover closed or properly stored with the lid installed and away from ambient light. Check the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for additional storage instructions specific to the resin type.
Empty or use any excess resin before storing resin tanks for longer than 1 month. Do not pour liquid resin back into the original container.
CAUTION:Some Formlabs materials wear down standard Resin Tanks more quickly. Avoid storing these resins for longer than one month in the tank to prevent resin leaks and subsequent damage. Learn more about resin tank compatibility for Formlabs materials.
Learn more about resin storage and extending resin lifetime.
Protecting the ID Chip
Each resin tank has an ID chip on underside of the tank frame. The Form 2 uses the ID chip to detect, track, and match the resin type in the tank with the proper resin cartridge. Protect the ID chip from resin contamination or damage.
Learn more about maintaining the ID chip to prevent tank detection issues.