99% Isopropyl – The 3D Printing Myth That Won’t Go Away
By Rob Cartwright 0 on 99% Isopropyl – The 3D Printing Myth That Won’t Go Away2 min read
In the wide world of 3D printing, there are many myths we see floating about, but the one that always amuses me most is connected to isopropyl alcohol, and that is of course, that you must clean your bed with 99% isopropyl, or it just won’t work – well, that’s complete rubbish.
First of all, you are probably wondering why you should take random advice from some 3D printing dude on the internet. This is correct, but before I was “a 3D printing dude” a good chunk of my adult life was spent working in biochemistry.
What Is Isopropyl?
Isopropyl (IPA, Isopropanol or 2- propanol) is simply an alcohol-based disinfectant that is used in a wide variety of environments, most popular of all, the world of medicine.
Why You Should Be Using 70% (not 99%)
The first and most important thing to realise in the world of 3D printing is this. While Isopropyl may do the job for most, it’s actually not the most effective thing you can use. Why? Well, Isopropyl is in fact anti-microbial, but generally only against fungi, viruses and bacteria – not oil-based residue such as that, that your body would naturally leave on your print surface from those sticky mitts of yours.
Now though, we need to look at why pure or 99% IPA just won’t work for your 3D printing build surface.
When it comes to cleaning your print bed with IPA, having a dilute water base of purified water with your Isopropyl is essential as the addition of water itself introduces the needed catalyst for the overall removal of the bacterial residue on the surface.
To put things scientifically, The water is there as it denatures the proteins of the vegetative cell membranes. Simply put the water won’t clean the virus, fungi or bacteria, and without water, the Isopropyl contact time is too little to make any difference at all.
But, before you go ahead and do this, there is another solution to get your print bed wonderfully clean.
So What's The Solution?
Well, now you have spent a minute or so reading scientific waffle, you probably want to know, scientifically speaking, what is the very best way to get your bed clean, well, that answer my friends is simple.
Get a bowl of hot water with a small amount of your household washing up liquid, a cloth that doesn’t have detachable fibers, and get scrubbing.
After a good old clean, rinse thoroughly and let dry naturally.
At the end of this, if you have some 70% IPA, give a gentle wipe over to remove any remaining impurities and you are well away.
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