Best 3D Printing Surface

Best 3D Printing Surface

Best 3D Printing Surface

I want to describe what I think is the best 3D printing platform. I have been using a heated platform covered by a mirror for some time. I have used Kapton tape to cover the mirror glass. The adhesion of ABS is pretty good, even for large prints using this surface. Pre-cleaning with acetone makes it much better. The problems include the fact that one print requires new Kapton, but more importantly, it is very difficult to pry loose a part at the end of a print. What I am showing above is two separate, smooth aluminum plates, each 4″ x 8″ covered by Kapton tape. Due to the heat capacity of these metal plates, heat up and cool down time is significantly longer, but the distinct advantage of this system is that I can pull the plates in different directions (one up, one down) after a print has completed, and it always pops off easily. I can even reuse the Kapton since it remains undamaged in the process. I have used the above Kapton for about 5 or 6 prints so far. I still clean with Acetone each time, and my prints are not curling at all at the edges.

I purchased four of these plates on eBay for about $20 with shipping. I rounded the corners myself. The Kapton at the edge is to insulate the electrical connections for the platform heater. I find this surface to be far superior to anything else I have tried so far, and I have tried a lot of things!


5 responses to “Best 3D Printing Surface

  1. That is interesting. I like the foldable platform idea. I may give that a shot on our makerbot here at work. We typically have an issue with the MB curling ABS prints on the edges and then coming off during printing. A common problem I think. It a kapton tape on aluminum surface screwed to the heating element though. I think as the platform heats it warps due to the thermal coefficient of expansion mismatch. Your clips may prevent this. Our issue is usually one of keeping things adhered while printing, not getting them off. The best prints we get are when we dissolve ABS in acetone and wipe a thin layer on the surface where sticking is an issue. Haven’t had to switch the kapton too often (twice) but if you put the ABS/Acetone mix everywhere it does get tough to remove.

    Check out:
    This online store sells a knock-off Makerbot and that uses the blue painters tape on the platform. I like this idea since it’s cheaper than kapton and easier to apply. I plan to see if this helps adhesion too.

  2. I have not tried the blue tape, but I have definitely seen it used. I used to have curling problems, but now that I use acetone cleaned Kapton, a heat lamp, a heated bed, and metal blocks around the print area, the temperature differential during printing is under control. Prying the pieces loose from the bed was a problem, but now that is really solved too. The slurry of melted ABS in acetone is a good idea. That should really make the print stick down hard. You might find this two piece bed idea especially useful in that case as well. Make sure to buy smooth aluminum blocks. You can find bar stock that has been sheared.

    I also like the Makerbot “knock off.” It is relatively cheap compared to the new dual head Makerbot. Do you plan to buy one of these? I am interested to know how well it works. That is a pretty good price for a finished machine.

  3. I tried kapton cleaning to no avail. New tape didn’t work well work either. A tighter printing head to platform gap helps We have to hit a balance with the acetone/ABS mix. We also enclosed the sides with paper to help keep the platform temps even. Haven’t tried heat lamps or metal blocks. Do you have a pic of the metal blocks you are referring to?

    I’m not buying a the knock off for personal use anytime soon. I may try to build one (likely a rep rap variant) with Makerbot printed parts if I can find the time and $$$. The knock off looks like a really good deal though. You don’t get the great Makerbot support directly but almost all of their fixes from the FAQ would apply to this one, so indirectly you are supported. BTW, I think the name of that website (repraper) is a bit lost in translation don’t you think. 🙂

  4. I added a few pics. of the heat lamp. I simply purchased the highest wattage spotlight I could find at Home Depot and found a way to mechanically mount it to my 3D printer, pointing the spotlight at the print area. Putting my hand in front of the lamp is kind of unpleasant, so I know it is throwing out some serious heat. It does seem to help in addition to the metal blocks that you can see in the other pics. above.

  5. Pingback: Some 3D printing tricks | G. P. Le Sage Blog·

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