Like FDM 3D printing, ensuring a printed part sticks to an SLA machine’s build plate is essential to successful resin 3D printing. Strong bed adhesion is especially crucial when printing with resin due to a large majority of SLA machines favoring the stereolithography method of generating a print that is hanging upside down. Add on the fact that SLA printing involves some suction between the print and an additional surface–an FEP film–and now there is another factor that can affect the print’s attachment to the build plate.
Unlike FDM, SLA works with two different surfaces when moving in the Z direction–an FEP film and a build plate. Suction occurs between the FEP film and resin print attached to the build plate in SLA 3D printing. This is normal (and even recommended) when resin printing; however, too much suction (FEP attached too loosely) can cause problems such as the print sticking to the FEP itself instead of the build surface. No suction (FEP attached too tightly) could potentially generate a force that pulls the print away from the build plate depending on your resin/print settings and calibrated Z height.
Note that this graphic is strictly for comparing FDM and SLA’s relationship of the build platform and printed part. This is not a comparison for other characteristics such as print speed.
With gravity pulling on your hanging print and the extra pulling force occurring from an FEP film (if it’s not attached just right), it’s no wonder that users strongly suggest printing on a build surface with a texture that the resin can hold onto. Most, if not all, resin 3D printers come with a textured build platform right out of the box. However, over time, the crevices in that texture naturally get filled up by resin after a couple of Liters. It’s then recommended to sand the build platform to reproduce some of that texture.
Understandably, the gut reaction to hearing you need to take sandpaper to your machine that costs hundreds of dollars isn’t great. So what’s an alternative option to preserve the integrity of your build platform while still making sure those prints stick to it? Enter LayerLock SLA Resin 3D Printing Build Surface–a fantastic solution to achieving strong bed adhesion for Laser, DLP, and LCD/MSLA resins. This build surface is made of phenolic-like material that provides the necessary texture that resins can hold onto. Instead of scratching up the build platform, you can take the light 220g sandpaper provided with every LayerLock SLA sheet to this LayerLock surface instead, keeping your build platform pristine of any sanding. Successfully produce the beautiful intricate parts made out of many popular materials such as Peopoly Phenom Deft, AnyCubic UV Resin, Siraya Tech, MatterHackers’ MH Build Epoxy-Free Photopolymer Resins, and many more with LayerLock SLA Resin 3D Printing Build Surface.
Installation for Various Printers/Methods
Installation of LayerLock SLA Resin 3D Printing Build Surfaces is fairly easy, but also critical for successful digital fabrication. Check out the steps below on how to properly install this sheet onto printers like the AnyCubic Photon, Elegoo Mars Pro 2, Peopoly Phenom L, Creality LD-002H, and more.
Don’t own one of our LayerLock SLA build surfaces? Check out the sizes we have in stock for various resin 3D printers here.
Easily install LayerLock SLA directly onto your printer’s build platform or on a magnetic base system.
Prepare Build Surface for Successful Resin 3D Printing
Step 1 – Confirm Placement on LCD Screen
- Clean off any dust, resin, and debris that may still be on your LCD screen.
- Before attempting to attach the LayerLock SLA sheet onto the build platform, we recommend you place it on your printer’s LCD screen.
- This ensures you have the correct size for your SLA printer and that the sheet attaches to the correct spot on your build platform.
Make sure your LayerLock SLA sheet fits on your LCD Screen (outlined in red above). Note that it is the area within the tape/frame designed to hold the LCD Screen.
Note: After attaching the sheet onto the build plate in Step 4, you will notice that the sheet does not cover the entire build platform. This is intentional as some resin 3D printers use thick tape to hold the LCD screen and a little bit of one edge of the build platform lays over it. This can frequently cause uneven bed leveling–a contributor to poor bed adhesion. Some printers may have more exaggerated issues than others.
By sizing the LayerLock sheet to the LCD screen rather than the build platform, not only does this resolve the issue detailed above, it also ensures that you are still maximizing the entire print area so no print volume is lost.
As pointed out above, there’s are uneven dip where the tape is. When calibrating and printing, this will throw off your build plate’s leveling, leading to poor bed adhesion. This is why LayerLock SLA bases sizing to accommodate the LCD screen rather than the printer’s build platform as the entire LCD Screen will undoubtedly be flat across the surface.
Step 2 – Sand Build Sheet Surface
- Once you’re satisfied with placement and compatibility, grab your LayerLock SLA sheet and lightly and evenly sand the surface that will be printed on. It is the side that does not have the tan adhesive liner.
- Use the 220g 3″ x 3″ piece of sandpaper provided with your build sheet.
- Note that it’s important to sand the surface before first-time use. If you print without sanding it beforehand, it will affect the effectiveness of the adhesion between the sheet and printing material.
- Once you finish sanding, use isopropyl alcohol on a paper towel or microfiber cloth to wipe away the dust accumulated on the sheet until clean.
Having a sanded surface plays a major roll in the successful bond between the build surface and 3D printing material.
Step 3 – Pull Off the Adhesive Liner
- Once you’re satisfied with placement and compatibility, grab your LayerLock SLA sheet and remove the adhesive liner on the back of it.
- Avoid having your fingers touch the now revealed adhesive.
- With the adhesive side facing up towards the build platform and away from the LCD screen, place the LayerLock build sheet back on the LCD screen.
- Make sure to line up the edge of the SLA sheet against the edges of the tape/LCD screen.
- Once aligned, proceed to step 3.
Make sure the adhesive side is facing UP. The adhesive is incredibly sticky and strong so it’s important that you do not accidentally stick the adhesive side onto your LCD screen.
Step 4 – Prep Build Plate
- Make sure your build platform/build plate has texture on it. If you don’t see or can’t feel any texture on it, you will need to scuff it up a little with sandpaper. If the surface is completely smooth, then adhesive will not stick to it.
- Once you’ve confirmed there’s texture on your build platform/plate, grab a paper towel and pour some isopropyl alcohol (ideally with an IPA of 90%+) on it.
- Use that paper towel to wipe down the surface of the build plate you will be attaching your sheet to.
- LayerLock SLA Build Surfaces can be attached to build platforms and flexible spring steel plates.
- Clean the surface until there is no dust, debris, or resin on it.
Every build plate/platform needs some level of texture in order to have a surface that prints (or in this case adhesives) can stick to.
- Note: If you are attaching a magnetic base in tandem with a LayerLock sheet, follow all of the magnetic base’s guidelines for installing their system on a machine before attempting to calibrate your resin 3D printer with a new build surface.
- Some machines require a new Z stop spacer to be installed before calibrating. Please install these new spacers as they will allow enough play to safely adjust your printer’s build platform.
- The following printers need a new Z stop spacer if installing a magnetic base system:
- Photon S
- Photon Mono X
- Elegoo Mars 2 / Pro 2
- Elegoo Saturn
*Note that this list comprises machines that LayerLock SLA has compatible sizes for available magnetic base systems. If you decide to add a magnetic base system and LayerLock SLA sheet to an incompatible printer or unlisted compatible printer, you will need to determine if a new spacer will be needed to account for the additional Z height.
- Reattach the build platform back onto the resin printer.
- Loosen all leveling screws until the build platform can freely adjust up and down.
- Make sure the LayerLock SLA sheet did not move from its place during this step. If it did, realign the edges of the LayerLock sheet in line with the edges of the tape/edge of the LCD screen.
In general, it’s important to loosen the leveling screws before calibrating/homing your Z. The adjustable play in the Z height will ensure that the build platform does not crash into the LCD screen.
Step 5 – Attach LayerLock SLA Build Surface
- Again, if you are installing the magnetic base system at the same time you’re installing a LayerLock build surface, please make sure you followed the magnetic base’s instructions for installation before proceeding further.
- With your LayerLock SLA sheet perfectly placed on the LCD Screen within the tape, move your Z to the home position.
- To move your Z to the home position, follow your specific resin printer’s instructions.
- As your Z moves to the home position, do not adjust anything until it finishes the homing process.
Home your Z and let the resin printer complete the homing process before proceeding further.
- Once the printer finishes homing, apply light pressure on the build platform down toward the LCD screen. The amount of pressure you should be using should be the equivalent pressure you use to keep the build platform leveled against the LCD screen as you tighten the leveling screws.
Applying the same light pressure used to flatten the platform against the LCD screen when leveling your build plate should be enough in this step.
Step 6 – Confirm the Edges Stuck to the Plate
- Raise the Z height on your build platform high enough to where you can safely detach it from the printer without it hitting the LCD screen.
- Detach it from the printer.
- To make sure your LayerLock SLA sheet maximizes its adhesion to the build platform, confirm all of the LayerLock SLA sheet’s edges are flat against the build platform/build plate.
- Use your hand to firmly press the entire build surface against the build platform to further ensure everything is touching against the build platform.
The edges of the LayerLock SLA sheet need to be flush against the build plate. This minimizes the chances of resin and cleaning solvents from seeping into the build surface’s adhesive, which could shorten its lifespan and require frequent replacement.
Step 7 – Calibrate Z Height / Build Platform Leveling
- Attach the build platform back onto your machine.
- Make sure the leveling screws on the build plate are still loosened.
- Follow your SLA machine’s normal recommended calibration instructions.
- Not all resin 3D printers have the same adjustable Z height or follow the same steps so we recommend following the manufacturer’s specific required/recommended guidelines.
- Once you’ve followed your printer manufacturer’s instructions on leveling and have tightened the leveling screws, proceed to Step 8.
Before you jump right into 3D SLA printing, make sure you level your build plate with its newly installed surface and tighten those leveling screws.
Step 8 – Load Your Test Model
- Choose any model you want to test the bed adhesion for the first layer of your test print. We recommend something that’s small and quick like this thin square so you can fine-tune your settings and adjust your Z height properly if needed before jumping to testing a larger print.
Step 9 – Print and Adjust If Necessary
- Print the thin square test print from Step 8. If you’re printing a different model, make sure that is either 0.05mm tall or stop your print after it completes its first layer.
- Again, before printing, make sure the LayerLock sheet has been sanded. If not, follow Step 2 before printing.
- Once the print is completed, allow excess resin to drip back into the vat or carefully wipe any excess resin from the build platform back into the vat with a silicone spatula or plastic putty knife.
- With a nitrile glove still on, gently rub your finger across the print.
- If it requires a scraper and light-moderate force to remove it from the platform, you’re good to go!
- If the following issues arise such as…
- The part easily slides off the platform with just your finger
- Lifted corners
- Air pockets underneath the print
- …then consider these possible resolutions:
- Confirm you followed Step 5–sanding the build sheet and cleaning off the dust resulting from sanding
- Ensure enough resin was in the vat to print your test print
- Not enough resin in the vat can cause typically cause air pockets/bubbles
- If none of these resolutions resolve the issue, resetting the Z=0 height and re-leveling the build platform may be needed. Repeat steps 6 – 8 until the first layer requires a scraper and light-moderate force to remove it from the platform.
Note: Please make sure you are not also printing with new resin if this is your first time printing with the newly installed LayerLock SLA Resin 3D Printing Build Surface. New resin means a new variable that may be affecting bed adhesion. We recommend first confirming bed adhesion can be achieved with a resin you are familiar with printing. Once that is confirmed, then print with the new resin using tips from this How To Succeed guide on how to generally fine-tune most photopolymer resins to your SLA printer.
That’s it for installation! Your new build surface is attached, everything is properly calibrated and you’re now ready to start successfully printing.
Final Printing & Maintenance Tips
- Re-leveling your build platform is recommended when fine-tuning printing with a new resin.
- The following factors outside of LayerLock SLA’s control are still necessary for bed adhesion success:
- Using the correct resin profile settings
- Making sure the pigments/dye of the resin have not settled to the bottom before printing
- Example: It’s best practice to regularly stir/shake affordable resins before printing so all the dyes/pigments are distributed evenly. If left settled at the bottom, the light will not shine through meaning no successful curing will occur. You may need to stir the vat of resin again after a certain amount of hours, depending on the brand you’ve chosen.
- Having proper drainage holes on prints
- Ensuring your FEP film isn’t too loosely or tightly attached to the vat
- Having a calibrated Z height / leveled build platform
- A leveled build platform can be difficult to achieve if the resin 3D printer has thick tape around the LCD display. With the LCD screen below the highest point of the thick tape, this can cause too much of a gap between the LCD screen and FEP sheet.
- Printing in an environment that is room temperature (ideally within 68°F – 77°F)
- Anything lower than 50°F or higher than 100°F highly increases the chances for bed adhesion and curing issues.
- Lightly sanding your LayerLock SLA Build Surface is recommended for first-time use and either after every 5L of resin printed or whenever bed adhesion is noticeably lost.
- Remember to wear a mask while sanding to avoid inhaling any particles.
- As with other build surfaces, be careful when using sharp objects to remove prints from the build surface to avoid unintentional knicks, scratches, and grooves on the surface.
- Clean the surface with 90%+ IPA isopropyl alcohol after every sanding.
- Wipe the surface and build platform clean of any resin if switching between material/colors.
- Avoid soaking the build platform with LayerLock SLA attached in any solvent for long periods of time.
- There’s a possibility that solvents may erode the adhesive on the back of the LayerLock SLA build sheet, thus reducing the adhesive’s lifespan.
- Wiping the surface with a light amount of IPA will not be a problem.
As always, MatterHackers has your back.
With this knowledge under your belt, we don’t expect you to run into any problems; but if you do, please do not hesitate to contact a MatterHackers Technician at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (949) 613-5838. We’re here to help!