Replacing your FEP film

Why do you need to Replace FEP Film?

The replacement of your FEP film is something that you, like me, a 3D printing enthusiast must do to keep our printers up and running perfectly.

Some of you may already know the answer to this, and others, whom are new to resin 3D printing may not know…  The FEP film is the clear plastic film underneath your VAT that sits on top of the LCD Display of your printer.  

Over time, the FEP film gets worn out, from contact with the resin, from the build plate pushing down on it, and from the heat generated by the LCD display.  Of course, other reasons you need to change the FEP film now and then, is because it gets a hole in it, either from usage, or from cleaning it and scraping off resin.

I have poked a hole or two in my FEP film, and for the most part I’ve been lucky.  I’ve never really had issues with resin bleeding through the FEP and onto my LCD, but others have.

Replacing the FEP film takes about twenty minutes or so, and if you are like me, and 3D print all the time, you may want to change your FEP Film as soon as it starts showing wear or if it becomes cloudy.

Watch the video here

What do I need to change the FEP Film?

Not all resin 3d Printers are the same, but, they all have one thing in common…  Almost every one of them uses FEP Film.

The first thing you need is a replacement FEP film sheet.  I use both manufacturer’s suggested FEP and Generic FEP film.  To be honest, I’ve had the same luck with both.

FEP Film comes in different sizes.  You should make sure you order the correct size for your Resin VAT.  Some of you have 5.5″ screens, 6.5″ screens or maybe 10″ screens.  Make sure the FEP you order fits on your VAT.

You will also need a good supply of paper towel and or Microfiber towels.  I use both, and they are convenient to have on had when you are ready to start.

Microfiber towels are great because you can wash them and re-use them.  I use paper towel to clean up the remaining resin in my VATs and then clean them and wipe them down with a microfiber towel, also drying them in the process.

You should have a good can of foaming window cleaner.  This does a great job of getting the FEP Film clean, and cleaning your VAT so that you can change the film.

You should wear a pair of glovesNitrile gloves are always by our sides since we resin print, so wear a pair when you change your film just in case you didn’t get all the resin off the VAT.

You will need to have the proper size allen wrenches for the screws on your VAT.  All of my printers have hex bolts, and it makes life easier that way.

As in the video, I suggest a small piece of foam or a folded paper towel to use as a wedge or spacer when inserting the new FEP Film.  Remember, you don’t want to insert the new FEP film tight.  It has to be loose on the frame so that it can be fitted and stretched into the VAT.

Changing the FEP

Replacing the FEP film is really easy.  Once you have cleaned off the VAT, remove the FEP film frame from the underside of the VAT.  There should be 10 to 16 screws that hold the frame into the VAT.

Once the frame is removed, take note as to the feel of the looseness of the FEP film that is currently installed.  You will want your FEP film to be just slightly tighter that the existing old piece.  Remember, the FEP will be stretched out when re-installed onto the VAT.

Now, its time to remove the other twenty or so screws from the frame.  The frame is made up of two pieces.  Remove the screws, and then separate the two pieces of the frame and clean them off.

Get your new FEP film and put it in between the two sections of FEP Frame.  Make sure it is centered.  This is the time where you will need to place the small piece of foam or a paper towel folded up, and create a “FEP Dome” of sorts.  Not too big, we are trying to match the looseness of the original FEP Film.

Using a small poker took, poke holes into the FEP paper where the screws are placed.   I start in the corners, poking holes in the four corners, placing the screws into the frame and tightening them down.  From there, you can poke holes in all the other screw inserts and place and tighten the screws. 

When you have finished, the FEP film should be someone loose.  Now that this is done, you can insert your FEP Frame into the VAT, the opposite way you removed it.

Finished VAT with new FEP Film installed

Finishing up!

Now place the frame of the FEP film onto the VAT’s underside.  Make sure you have holes poked in all the places you have to put the screws back into place.

As you push the frame into the VAT, the FEP film will get tighter.  If you left enough slack in the FEP film, it should tighten up perfectly.  If the FEP film is too tight, it could rip on the VAT, so, if you followed the instructions well for inserting the FEP film, you should be ok.

Place all the screws into the frame, but don’t tighten them into the VAT.

Work your way around two or four times, tightening them up little by little.  This allows the FEP film to stretch a bit each time you tighten them down.  Once you get to the end, when the screws won’t tighten any more, you are done. 

Now, I always do a test.  I grab a cup of hot water, about 120 degrees, and pour it into the VAT.  I leave it where I can see if there is a leak, and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  If I have no leaks, I’m good.  Do this test, because if you do have a hole in your new FEP film and pour resin into it, you could create a problem with your printer.

Hey, if you have never done this before, don’t be afraid.  It isn’t rocket science, and you have nothing to be worried about.

Wear gloves, have a couple of extra sheets of FEP film around, and you are good to go!

 

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