The Anycubic Photon is a popular budget resin printer. It’s compact size and entry-level price make it a great fit for beginners. At the same time, that also means that when things go wrong, you’re more likely to need help. One of the common problems with Anycubic Photon or other resin printers is the print sticking to the VAT or FEP film instead of the build plate. What can you do when that happens?
Fixing the print sticking to the Vat on an Anycubic Photon requires troubleshooting the printer. That’s because sticking issues can occur because of heat, exposure, an unlevel bed, instability in the FEP, or several other issues. This guide will walk you through that process.
How To Fix Anycubic Photon Print Sticking to FEP Vat
Fixing a print sticking to the FEP vat is probably a quick issue. However, it may require some troubleshooting. Any of these reasons may cause the print to stick to the FEP.
Readjust Exposure Time
A long curing time can over-harden the resin, preventing it from sticking to the build plate. Similarly, a too-short curing time will result in soft resin that deforms and doesn’t properly adhere to the build plate.
In most cases, you’re recommended to have a bottom exposure time of 60 seconds. That means all 5+ of your bottom layers will receive 60 seconds of exposure – allowing them to cure and harden to the base plate. Normal exposure should start at about 8 seconds and go up based on the resin type and the temperature of the room. The colder it is, the longer exposure time should be.
The Photon Mono cures resin more quickly than the S. Here, Anycubic recommends a bottom exposure time starting at around 40 seconds. Your normal exposure time should start at just 2 seconds.
Photon Mono X
The Mono X is even faster, with bottom exposure settings going as low as 28 seconds and down to 23 seconds for the 4K model.
Here, you should start bottom exposure at around 35s with normal layer exposure at 2 seconds.
In most cases, bottom exposure should be set between 23 and 70 seconds. Actual settings should depend on your resin type and your printer. You can check Anycubic’s official recommendations for your printer here.
Level the Build Plate
Leveling issues can cause issues with the print sticking to the build plate. When that happens, only part of the print may stick. That makes it more likely to stick to the vat instead.
Prep the Printer
Prep the printer to level the build plate by raising the plate above the resin vat. From there, you can take the resin vat out by unbolting both thumbscrews on either side. Use the menu (“Tools” -> “Move Z” and raise it to do dos).
Adjust the print plate
If you haven’t already, loosen the bolt at the top of the print head and level the plate. If you’ve set the angle previously and it’s good, you shouldn’t have to repeat this.
Level the print plate
Place a piece of paper on the LCD under the resin vat and lower the print plate to Home from the menu. Pull the paper. If it removes with a slight bit of resistance, the bed is good. If not, adjust the print plate in increments of 0.1mm from the menu.
In addition, you should inspect the four corners of the print plate. You should just be able to slide the paper under it with a slight bit of resistance. If you can’t, loosen the bolt at the top of the printhead and readjust the angle of the print head.
Go to “Tools” and press “Z=0”.
Tighten Screws Around FEP Sheet
If you’ve replaced the FEP or the Vat came out of the box with the FEP poorly installed, you might have issues. Here, sagging, stretches, or a loose FEP sheet can cause the print to stick to the FEP instead of to the build plate. Tightening the FEP could resolve the issue.
Empty the Resin Vat
Empty the resin vat and clean it out. If you still have resin in the vat, you’ll want it completely empty, clean, and dry. Then, take the vat out and place it upside down on a table.
Remove the Outside Screws
Use a screwdriver to remove the 8 screws around the outside of the vat. Then, gently push from the inside to press the frame out.
Take Off the Inner Ring
Remove the screws on the inside of the ring. There are 24 of them.
Tighten or Replace the FEP
Check if you want to reuse the FEP. If the existing holes are in the wrong place, you shouldn’t reuse it. IF you can just tighten the film and put the screws on the outside, do that. Here, you want to keep the FEP tight as you put the screws in. To achieve this, put the screws in on one side, tighten it along another edge, then another edge, and then the last.
Put the Vat Back Together
Put everything back together in reverse order.
Check Resin Settings
Resin settings should be adjusted based on your 3D printer and the type of resin you’re using. For example, the Photon S uses more than twice as much bottom curing time as the Photon Mono X.
Check your resin settings with the official recommendations from Anycubic to see if settings are the issue.
Add More Supports
If your print keeps sticking to the vat, it may be because the surface that connects to the plate is too small. You can adjust this by adding more supports. The Photon Workshop allows you to do so and will directly show when parts of the print touch the build plate or not.
Any wide angles, overhangs, bridges, etc., need supports. In addition, a sufficiently large portion of the base needs to make contact with the print plate. If you can’t achieve that, using a raft is a good alternative.
Tweak Lift Speed
If your lift speed is too high, it could cause the printer to pull the early layers of the print off the base plate. Here, you can slow lift speed to try to avoid that. On average, base layer lift speed should be around 60mm per minute. You can always reduce that to see if it makes a difference. A slower lift speed will increase the time to print, but may also prevent the print from sticking to the vat.
Apply Lubrication Spray
You shouldn’t have to use a spray to resolve a sticking issue. However, if you’ve tried everything and your models are still sticking to the vat, you can always try a spray. Here, silicone, Teflon, or PTFE (also Teflon) sprays are extremely popular.
A thin coating of lubrication spray will reduce adhesion to the FEP layer. However, you will occasionally have to re-apply it.
Additional Tips to Avoid Sticky Prints with Photon Printers
If you’re still having trouble with your prints sticking to the FEP, you can try these additional tips. If your problem is sticky prints after they finish, using a good wash (with ethanol) and curing the prints after should be your go to.
Clean Your Print Plate
Oil or dirt residue buildup on the print plate can cause issues with sticking. In this case, you’ll have to wait until your resin tank is empty. Then, you can wipe down the bottom of the vat with isopropyl alcohol to remove any fingerprints or grease.
Get Your Settings Right
Double check that your exposure, light off time, lift, and layer height settings are all correct for the type of resin you’re using. You can always make small adjustments to see if it helps.
Change Damaged FEP Film
If your FEP film is damaged, torn, or stretched, it’s time to replace it. The 3D print has to release from the FEP at every layer. If the FEP is loose, it causes more suction and may pull the print off of the bed.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re having trouble with getting your prints to stop sticking to the vat on your Anycubic Photon, these answers may help solve problems around that.
Can I reuse failed resin prints?
No. You cannot reuse failed resin prints. Once resin is cured, it’s permanently plastic. Therefore, you cannot reuse or recycle the material for a new print. There are plenty of ideas for using failed prints for other purposes. For example, you might want to use your failed prints to fill hollows, to make terrain, etc.
Is it okay to pause a resin print?
You can always hit pause on the Anycubic Photon during a print. This allows you to refill the resin vat. However, you also want to resume the print as quickly as possible. Waiting too long could create a line in the print.
Can you clean FEP with IPA?
Yes, Isopropyl Alcohol is the standard cleaning agent used for FEP sheets. You can also use alcohol wipes.
If your 3D prints are sticking to the FEP vat instead of the build plate, it usually means there’s not enough bed adhesion. Unfortunately, solving that does require troubleshooting. Luckily, most issues that could cause this problem are easily resolved.
Good luck fixing your printer.