Resin tanks are consumables and require replacement after the expected lifetime. Expect to replace Resin Tank LT (Long Term) after 20,000-30,000 layers of printing or when wear on the protective film begins to affect print quality. Maintain and clean Resin Tanks LT using Formlabs instructions to maximize tank performance and to ensure consistent, high-quality prints over a tank’s lifetime.
Resin Tank LT Care Overview
Resin Tank LT features a chemical resistant plastic tank frame with a clear acrylic tank window and a film-coated 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: the clear acrylic tank window and the protective film.
For optimal printing results, avoid using a resin tank if the clear acrylic tank window or the film is damaged or contaminated. Damage or contamination on these two optical surfaces can cause the laser light to diffuse and 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.
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 Resin Tank LT tank with average use typically preserves high print quality up to 30,000 layers.
Replace Resin Tank LT when wear on the film-coated elastic layer begins to affect print quality or there is substantial damage to the protective film or the clear acrylic tank window. To prolong the life of Resin Tank LT, protect the film from punctures, keep the clear acrylic tank window clean, and check inside the tank regularly for any debris, cured resin, or failed prints.
Inspecting Resin Tank LT
Inspect Resin Tank LT 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 Resin Tank LT Interior
Check the tank interior for any cured resin, failed prints, debris, or damage to the protective film.
CAUTION:Only use gloved hands or a spatula with rounded corners to inspect the Resin Tank LT interior. Avoid using sharp tools because they may damage the film.
To inspect the Resin Tank LT interior:
1. Use a spatula with rounded corners to inspect the resin and the film-coated elastic layer. Starting from the top corner, gently scrape the spatula from top to bottom across the tank interior.
2. Check for the following issues that may lead to print failures or damage that require replacing the tank:
- cured resin on the protective film
- debris or failed prints in the resin
- punctures or gouges in the protective film
Checking the Resin Tank LT 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 around the scratched area, or replace the tank.
Cleaning Resin Tank LT
Clean Resin Tank LT after print failures. Remove any cured resin on the film, 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 Resin Tank LT interior
Print failures: Remove and discard any print failures using a gloved hand or a spatula with rounded corners.
Cured resin on film: Gently slide a spatula with rounded corners under the cured resin. Use the spatula to peel and remove the cured resin from the film.
Debris or contamination in 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.
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. 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
To clean resin on the chemical resistant tank frame, use a paper towel and a small amount of clean IPA. Avoid getting IPA on the clear acrylic tank window because the IPA can lead to cracks in the tank window and can cause resin to leak.
Diagnosing Damage and Wear
Protect the film-coated elastic layer from damage to maximize expected tank lifetime. Learn to recognize and prevent damage to the film on Resin Tank LT tanks.
Note: The sample images below show the film-coated elastic layer on Resin Tank LT tanks viewed through the underside of the acrylic tank window.
Minimal Damage and Wear
A damage-free tank exhibits a smooth film-coated elastic layer without gouges and punctures.
Light scratching and indentations from normal wear may be visible.
Damage: Gouges and Punctures
A gouged or punctured tank requires replacement.
Gouges and punctures in the film bend light and prevent the laser from curing resin properly. Gouges and punctures may also cause resin to leak into and cure under the film, which can lead to further damage.
Common causes for gouges and punctures include:
- using a sharp tool inside the tank
- using excessive force to scrape the film-coated layer
- print failures
Slight scratches in the film-coated layer are expected to appear after normal use and should not affect print quality.
In the case of heavy scratches, or when scratches begin to affect print quality and consistency, either use the Layout toolbar in PreForm to print around the scratched area, or replace the tank.
Indentations may appear from the build platform pressing prints against the film-coated layer. Indentations should not affect print quality.
If an indentation begins to affect the print quality and consistency, either use the Layout toolbar in PreForm to print around the affected print area or replace the tank.
Replacing Resin Tank LT
Follow the steps below to transfer resin from the damaged or expired tank to a new tank or separate, opaque container. If necessary, purchase a new or spare Resin Tank LT in the Form Store.
TIP:Always wear gloves when handling liquid resin.
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 or cured parts 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 SDS.