Printing Surfaces

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Printing Surfaces

Postby drawcut » 2012-May-Sun-09-May

Edited 5/20/12 - Kapton tape, sugar water, glass, ABS juice sections. Added Freeze spray and copper coated PCB board. All latest edits are underlined.

Edited 5/13/12 - Blue tape and Sugar water sections

I don't yet have my PB but I've been researching as much as I can before it gets here. (Edit 5/20/12 - To clarify, I've had a Printrbot original since a bit before the 5/13 edit to test these things on.) One area that seems to cause issues is the printing surfaces so I thought I'd start a thread to try and bring a bunch of info into one place. Also important to always note if we are talking ABS or PLA.

ABS:
Needs something to stick to for the first layer. Then, must be able to remove when print is done. A heated bed is usually used to prevent warping and edge curing, especially on larger parts. The heated bed helps prevent the bottom, earliest layers from cooling off too quickly with the different expansion / contraction rates causing warping / edge curling.

Surface material:
Heated bed: ABS can be printed on the heated bed if it is covered with something to help it stick - frequently tape (see below). May have issues if not perfectly flat. The heated bed helps with most warping and curling issues but still needs a surface finish that the plastic will stick to.

Glass: Many use a piece of glass over the top of the heated bed to get a smooth, very flat surface to work from. Still normally needs something additional on top to provide a material or texture that the plastic will stick to. I have heard of some thoughts on using glass that is sanded or has a frosted surface but no real reports of success. Heat resistant glass (i.e. Pyrex) is often recommended as this will sit directly on the headed bed and be subjected to many heating cooling cycles but many report no problems with plain glass, often sourced from a local glass supplier or even a cheap picture frame.

Edit 5/20/12: Has been reported that the bot farm at Printrbot HQ uses just plain glass, with Kapton tape. Also reported that PB HQ had issues with glass breaking when experimenting with ABS juice.

Also reported that ABS can be printed directly on glass but the surface needs to be roughened by either light sanding or possibly chemical etching. Experiments are ongoing - see user eddiema's posts: http://www.printrbottalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=500


Added 5/20/12: Copper coated PCB board: Made for electronics prototyping. Can be used as a flat, smooth printing surface. One advantage is that the PCB can be removed at the end of a print and flexed slightly to 'pop' a print off. I am currently using this, covering in Kapton tape, on top of glass. Kapton tape for adhesion, the glass is much stiffer and flat. I am not sure if the PCB board by itself would be flat enough or not. I still need to get an easy to remove setup so I can test the flex to release method. Pretty cheap - I got 1/16" thick boards from Digikey.com for under 10USD.

Surface Finish:

No matter what you use for a final surface finish, always clean the surface well before printing. Fingerprints and other contaminates will prevent prints from sticking. Acetone is a good cleaner and will dissolve bits of ABS left from previous prints. Be careful of the fumes (flammable and not healthy), and be careful not to get any on the printed parts of your Printrbot! Alcohol is another good cleaner - less hazardous to your health and less likely to dissolve ABS (for good or bad), still flammable.

Painters tape: Mixed reports of success. Those that report success recommend tape with no printing on it. Blue 3M tape is often used but you may want to experiment with different available brands. Can also be roughened with sandpaper. Pros: it's cheap, widely available and easy to apply without wrinkles or bubbles and easy to remove. Edit 5/13/12: Tried this myself: 3M blue tape on glass, cleaned with Acetone. Sticks well, better than I expected. Had trouble getting the print off after printing - tape ripped off with it. May have needed to let the print and bed fully cool before removing.

Polymide or Kapton Tape: Typically the most widely used option, high success rates. Can be difficult to apply smooth and wrinkle free. Recommended to apply using a soapy water mixture on the glass first, the tape can then be applied smoothly and the soapy water is squeegeed out from under the tape with a small plastic putty knife, credit card, etc. Similar to technique used on window tint. Fairly expensive. Cheaper brands may benefit from light sanding.

Edit 5/20/12: Tried this myself on several parts. Works as advertised. It's still not 'so easy my mom could do it', but this is the best of anything I've tried so far. Sticks well, releases OK after some cooling (although my first layer height may need to be lowered a bit which may affect part releasing). Soapy water application method worked well for me the first time. I should get even better at it with practice.

Non Tape methods - these interest me partly because with tape you will usually have a seam or seams in your surface because multiple pieces are used. 6" and wider tapes are hard to find, more expensive and harder to apply smoothly.

ABS Juice: Bits of ABS dissolved in Acetone will create a paste that can be applied to a glass bed. Thickness or concentration of ABS vs Acetone can be experimented with. Most report good success but it is less widely used so reports are fewer. Tends to leave a thin layer of ABS on the part that may need to be removed, sanded, etc. May need to match ABS juice with different ABS colors being used. Note also useful as a glue to join parts or even in thicker amounts can be used to build up the surface of certain parts.

Edit 5/20/12: Has been reported that Printrbot HQ had issues with glass breaking when experimenting with ABS juice. Believe this was plain glass, not heat resistant - no idea if that would matter. No info on ABS recipe, thickness, etc.

Sugar Water: I have seen only a few mentions of this on other forums. A couple report good results. Interesting since it is cheap and easily available. Thoughts: Would a sugar / alcohol mix be any improvement? Would the alcohol evaporating quicker help? Would different types of sugar be any difference after dissolving / drying out? Would course ground give a different texture than say powdered sugar? Reported usage: apply to headed glass bed - approx 100C, let dry and print at approx 110C.

Edit 5/13/12: Tried this on three prints. Use a paper towel to get the sugar water to spread evenly, can also wipe with the water basically dry and it will look a bit nasty but it increases the texture. Sticks OK but not as well as blue tape. Seems harder to get that first bit to stick. Prints remove very easily after just a bit of cooling.

Edit 5/20/12: Did a few more print with this. Not a bad choice to use, IMO. Especially good for releasing prints and it's cheap and easily available.

Floor wax: Saw exactly one mention of this on another forum with reported good results. Another cheap / easily available option. Reported usage: wipe on glass and let dry 5 to 10 mins. No mention of brands / types. Edit 5/13/12: Tried this but on a heated bed (approx 110C) ABS would not stick. The wax seemed almost wet with the heated bed on (it was dry on the cool bed before I started). Used Johnson paste type floor wax. Not sure if possibly this is meant for use on an unheated bed?

Added 5/20/12: Freeze spray: made for troubleshooting electronics. We can use it to force cool prints or the bed to get prints to release easier. Tried a little bit on smaller prints. Does help things along but I wonder if this may lead to warping, esp. on larger prints. Kind of pricey. ~13USD for a small can.

PLA:

Honestly my main interest is ABS right now, so if somebody with more knowledge on the PLA side would like to add what they know, I'd be grateful. Otherwise, I'll add what I know later. All of this is second hand knowledge right now for me. Please add your experiences and thoughts to this!
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Last edited by drawcut on 2012-May-Sun-15-May, edited 7 times in total.
Printrbot original. Major mods: Y axis extended to ~8", Z extended to ~8.5". 5mm SS Z threaded rods w/ flex couplings. E3D hotend. Purchased Acetel gears. Glass bed with Elmers' purple glue stick for most prints. Top of Z axis rods have added cross structure similar to a Prusia i3.
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Printing Surfaces

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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby bmsleight » 2012-May-Sun-13-May

Wish I could moderate as "Informative" - very good.

I like the tape option. Sugar option sounds fun, cheap and dissolvable.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby drawcut » 2012-May-Sun-17-May

Well, I tried a bit of experimenting this afternoon using my (soon to be) glass bed, sugar, water, alcohol, heat gun, blue tape and Kapton tape. Tried applying each to glass and melted the end of some ABS filament to see if each would stick.

Sugar Water: Really benefits from heating the glass to get the water to evaporate. Leaves a somewhat sticky residue (big surprise). ABS seems to stick pretty well. I'd say this is promising.

Sugar + Alcohol: Wasn't able to get much to dissolve. Reading online it seems that sugar is only somewhat soluble in ethyl alcohol and it takes quite a bit of time to dissolve. In my quick test, it did not leave much behind on the glass and didn't stick to ABS much at all. I'm leaving a mix in a jar to see if it will dissolve better with more time.

Blue tape: used 3M painters tape, cleaned surface with alcohol. Surprised me, this seemed to stick better than anything else. Did not do any heating for this. I'm definitely going to buy a wider roll and try this out.

Kapton tape: Just stuck it on and cleaned surface with alcohol, no special care taken to smooth wrinkles. Stuck OK but not great. Note I did not heat this up so that may make a difference. Maybe cleaning with acetone would also help. Maybe this is just the right amount of stick for printing while allowing for part removal?

All of this was purely unscientific but it's the best I can do while waiting for my PB. ;)
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Printrbot original. Major mods: Y axis extended to ~8", Z extended to ~8.5". 5mm SS Z threaded rods w/ flex couplings. E3D hotend. Purchased Acetel gears. Glass bed with Elmers' purple glue stick for most prints. Top of Z axis rods have added cross structure similar to a Prusia i3.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby eddiema » 2012-May-Sun-19-May

I found the printing on the bed works perfectly once to take the shine off the paint.
I use a scouring pad. Later I used 400 grit paper but haven't had a working printer to test it.
I ended up just using window cleaner to prep the bed - much easier on the lungs.

Some say ABS won't stick to glass - other say it does.
I'm going to try sanded glass when I can.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby roman.hegglin » 2012-May-Sun-13-May

From what i saw on different views of the dropcam:
Printrbot HQ uses glass and kapton tape!

Not sure if the glass is just window glass or a special kind of heat resistant/tempered/safety glass.
On top of the glass, they use the kapton tape.

Dropcam, May 13 08:36AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDXnUNUJ ... youtu.be&a
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby drawcut » 2012-May-Sun-16-May

A few updates added to the OP.

I tried 3M blue tape on a heated bed with ABS. Worked better that expected. Stuck well. Too well in the end, I had to rip the tape off with the print. And that tape is still stuck to the bottom of the print. I even tried 150 grit sand paper and it still is on there.

Sugar water: I ran three prints on this. It doesn't stick quite as well as blue tape but I did get it to work. I kept having to pull off the initial blob of ABS off the nozzle as the print started. Usually had to restart the print once or twice to get it sticking right. Really nice thing was that the prints popped right off after just a little cooling off.
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Printrbot original. Major mods: Y axis extended to ~8", Z extended to ~8.5". 5mm SS Z threaded rods w/ flex couplings. E3D hotend. Purchased Acetel gears. Glass bed with Elmers' purple glue stick for most prints. Top of Z axis rods have added cross structure similar to a Prusia i3.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby CL1 » 2012-May-Sun-20-May

roman.hegglin wrote:From what i saw on different views of the dropcam: Printrbot HQ uses glass and kapton tape! Not sure if the glass is just window glass or a special kind of heat resistant/tempered/safety glass. On top of the glass, they use the kapton tape.

You are Correct. The glass used at PBHQ is normal window glass. Nothing special. Borosilicate glass is not needed for ABS printing!

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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby shai » 2012-May-Mon-00-May

CL1 wrote:You are Correct. The glass used at PBHQ is normal window glass. Nothing special. Borosilicate glass is not needed for ABS printing!

CL1


Just wondering, how do you know what glass they use at HQ? Many say that if it's regular, non-heat resistant glass, then it will eventually crack/break, but if it is, then it will last a long time.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby PxT » 2012-May-Mon-12-May

I broke my first sheet of plain/single-strength glass. Whether that was from heating & cooling cycles or rough treatment when removing a part I can't say for sure (maybe both). In either case regular single-strength glass is not designed to withstand rapid heating and cooling cycles. It may work for a while (or for a long time) but eventually it will give out -- you're asking it to perform under adverse conditions.

Borosilicate is made to withstand those rapid & frequent temperature cycles. Along the lines of my Acme mod discussed in another post -- for a few dollars you can get a part that is engineered for the job it is being asked to do. That's a good trade-off for me, but like other mods it comes down to your budget, how much time you want to invest in finding the right glass, etc. Everyone can make their own decision on this and there is no one right answer.

BTW, CL1 is qualified to talk about the bots at HQ -- he helped build them.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby Luke C » 2012-May-Mon-12-May

My 2 cents... Aluminum and Kapton

You don't risk shattering the Aluminum and nothing I've found for both abs and pla works as well as polyimide (kapton). As stated above, you can get abs to stick to blue-tape, but it usually sticks better than the bluetape does to the printbed. So any substantial print will still curl on the bottom and take the bluetape with it. Lots of reapplication and you're still not getting flat parts.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby PxT » 2012-May-Mon-12-May

Don't you have to worry about thermal expansion with aluminum though? Or does it not matter at this scale? The thermal expansion coefficient of aluminum is about 7x higher than borosilicate glass. I'm not an engineer / metallurgist (although I play one on the internet) so I may be thinking about this incorrectly.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby drawcut » 2012-May-Mon-19-May

Luke C wrote:My 2 cents... Aluminum and Kapton

You don't risk shattering the Aluminum and nothing I've found for both abs and pla works as well as polyimide (kapton). As stated above, you can get abs to stick to blue-tape, but it usually sticks better than the bluetape does to the printbed. So any substantial print will still curl on the bottom and take the bluetape with it. Lots of reapplication and you're still not getting flat parts.


RED: I can believe that, the blue tape is still stuck to the bottom of my test cube!

So how well does Kapton tape release prints? Does it need to cool down fully before removing?
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby CL1 » 2012-May-Mon-20-May

PxT wrote:Don't you have to worry about thermal expansion with aluminum though? Or does it not matter at this scale? The thermal expansion coefficient of aluminum is about 7x higher than borosilicate glass. I'm not an engineer / metallurgist (although I play one on the internet) so I may be thinking about this incorrectly.

I have no direct experience with aluminum beds on 3D printers. I'd think that as long as the environment around the bed didn't change much, that the aluminum would expand in line with the bed temperature you've set and basically stay there (or close) during the build. The nice thing I'd also expect is that the greater expansion would also mean a greater contraction on cooling which might make part removal easier! And that possibility alone would be worth the trial of aluminum to me.

In my experience, once you have figured out how to get things to stick removing them quickly and easily becomes a much greater problem! I've watched the guys running the Botfarm and even timed them as they went about their work for estimating KS rewards shipment expectations. Far more time and effort was spent in part removal than in getting things to stick. Glass/Kapton is used at PBHQ.

I'd re-read nophead's HydroRaptor Blog comments on printbeds and such. Then, if he hadn't convinced me otherwise, I'd give aluminum a hearty try!
Use K100 or Mic-6 tooling plate or at least a cast aluminum or expect warping! Standard wrought aluminum is going to warp, IME.

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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby pocketscience » 2012-May-Mon-22-May

drawcut wrote:So how well does Kapton tape release prints? Does it need to cool down fully before removing?


In my experience Kapton holds on to prints very well, and the more surface area you have the harder it is to remove the prints (no surprises there). That being said I haven't done (and am currently unable to do) any large prints, but removing small items is easy once they cool for a few minutes. There's no need to wait for the bed to get back to room temperature. I haven't damaged any prints or the Kapton in my limited printing thus far - Kapton seems like it was almost designed for the task we've assign to it.

I haven't tried anything else on my bed, and honestly don't think I'll bother given my experiences thus far.


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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby CL1 » 2012-May-Tue-04-May

pocketscience wrote:In my experience Kapton holds on to prints very well, and the more surface area you have the harder it is to remove the prints (no surprises there).
Yes.

I haven't damaged any prints or the Kapton in my limited printing thus far - Kapton seems like it was almost designed for the task we've assign to it.
I snipped the middle comment about not printing any large parts yet. When you do, the issue becomes getting the part off without pulling and stretching the Kapton tape from its smooth connection to the glass or other bed material. Leaving bubbles or worse, tearing the tape. Kapton is good, but this is a problem if you're trying to kick out some parts in a semi-production mode! Repair or replacement of Kapton is a time-waster. I'm looking towards using multiple beds or as we call them in the machinist trade, Pallets. These are also used in commercial 3D printers like the Dimension series. To me this seems the best and easiest long-term solution since the automated build platform from makerbot doesn't seem to work reliably with ABS.
Quick-change Pallets FTW! :D

I haven't tried anything else on my bed, and honestly don't think I'll bother given my experiences thus far.
Nophead mentions in his hydroraptor blog that Green *packing tape* (as used in powder coating for a mask) has worked well. He's not the only one. I haven't yet experienced it, but definitely want to! It has the heat and adhesion capability of Kapton, but seems to be less expensive. nophead and a few others I trust have chosen it over Kapton. At least that was the case the last time I looked into it; things change rather rapidly at this point of explosive growth for hobby level 3D printers!

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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby bitdude » 2012-May-Fri-20-May

I print ABS on borosilicate glass covered with kapton tape (3" x 36 yards $12 on amazon). Clean with windex before each print. It sticks very well. It the bed cools completely they just pop off. If the bed is warm a lot of effort to remove if large bottom surface area.

I have some PLA but have not tried it yet.

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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby drawcut » 2012-May-Sun-07-May

I just tried Kapton Tape for the first time and that has been the best of anything so far. I had better that expected luck with the parts releasing well after printing but I think my Z home is still a little high so that likely affects that. I still need to get some tweeking done but I'd say Kapton is the winner of anything I've tried.

Also did a few more sugar water prints. Over all seems like a fairly good choice. Especially good for releasing prints.

A few more things I'm trying:

Freeze spray: made for testing electronics. Kind of pricey but can help for releasing prints. I'm wondering if this may cause warping if overused.

Copper covered PCB board: made for electronics prototyping. I'm using this as a print surface, covered in Kapton tape. The idea is that the PCB board is flat and smooth but if you take it off the bed, it will flex a bit and that will pop a print off easily. I actually have this on top of glass to make sure it's flat for printing. I still need to make an easy to remove setup for this to test the flex - print removal. But for just printing with Kapton it has worked well so far.

I'll update the OP with this.
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Printrbot original. Major mods: Y axis extended to ~8", Z extended to ~8.5". 5mm SS Z threaded rods w/ flex couplings. E3D hotend. Purchased Acetel gears. Glass bed with Elmers' purple glue stick for most prints. Top of Z axis rods have added cross structure similar to a Prusia i3.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby wthierry » 2012-May-Sun-10-May

My first print was successful this morning. (needs adjustments for accuracy) however, I was having problems getting the print to stick to the blue tape... I added some double stick tape on top of the blue tape, and it worked like a charm....
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby jr57k » 2012-May-Thu-13-May

anyone in here try aluminum yet? I've seen it in videos and given the price (~$10) of a 1/8" sheet of 8x8, I'm thinking about giving it a try. I'm really trying to nail down the thickness. Given the thermal distribution (should even out the hot spots a little on the LC+ bed) I'm thinking a thicker piece might be more desirable, 1/4" or 5/16" might be really nice. I'd put Kapton on top. Any comments would be welcome.

EDIT: It just occurred to me that a 6mm bed might be too heavy for the motors. I've read that a 2mm bed works pretty well.

http://forums.reprap.org/read.php?1,134 ... msg-135053

EDIT 2: it looks like a 2.26mm (0.1in) plate of 6061 aluminum would weigh in at 0.6722 lbs. That should be light enough, it might even be lighter than the glass I was considering.

EDIT 3: It looks like machine steel plate (stainless 304) isn't much more expensive. I doubt it would heat up as fast as the Al, but it should resist warping more and expand less.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby CL1 » 2012-Jun-Fri-05-Jun

jr57k wrote:EDIT 3: It looks like machine steel plate (stainless 304) isn't much more expensive. I doubt it would heat up as fast as the Al, but it should resist warping more and expand less.

And weigh FAR more! Re: aluminum: Try to use cast aluminum if you can. Consider cutting away *excess* wood from the PrintBed if you're worried about weight.

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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby jr57k » 2012-Jun-Fri-12-Jun

CL1 wrote:And weigh FAR more! Re: aluminum: Try to use cast aluminum if you can. Consider cutting away *excess* wood from the PrintBed if you're worried about weight.CL1


Fair point on the steel. All the cast plates I see are 1/4" or bigger. I'm not sure if that's going to work well. The machining grade 2mm think (I'm sure it's rolled) it probably what I'll try first. It's only about $20 and I can always buy a few more plates and weld them together for a box or something.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby Mooselake » 2012-Jun-Fri-15-Jun

This is an aluminum frame holding the PCB, not an aluminum bed, and for a Prusa. It's from Hoss's 3D printer build on cnczone. Still interesting, seems to work well, and might save some weight.

http://youtu.be/nUopcEwmi20
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby NightOwl » 2012-Jun-Sat-03-Jun

drawcut wrote:A few more things I'm trying:

Freeze spray: made for testing electronics. Kind of pricey but can help for releasing prints. I'm wondering if this may cause warping if overused.


Try using a can of compressed gas duster. Hold the can upside-down when you press the trigger. A lot cheaper than the freeze spray.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby Jassper » 2012-Jul-Thu-07-Jul

I just print directly to the heat bed, no issues.
Sticks just fine and releases when cool.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby eddiema » 2012-Jul-Thu-20-Jul

NightOwl wrote:
drawcut wrote:A few more things I'm trying:

Freeze spray: made for testing electronics. Kind of pricey but can help for releasing prints. I'm wondering if this may cause warping if overused.


Try using a can of compressed gas duster. Hold the can upside-down when you press the trigger. A lot cheaper than the freeze spray.

Probably not the greenest spray freeze but I use a can of butane - $3 a can here.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby jond » 2012-Jul-Sun-15-Jul

I've been printing on Kapton/glass and my usual problem is that I have a hard time getting the print off after it's done - it sticks really well! After seeing the posts about freeze spray, I decided to take my latest print, still on the glass, and stick it in the freezer. After about 6 or 7 minutes I heard a muffled bang. My first though was that the glass had shattered and I'd have a mess to clean up, but when I opened the freezer, the print was sitting there, separate from the glass, nice as you please.

Anyone else try this?

Cheers, JonD.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby sjai013 » 2012-Jul-Mon-07-Jul

I've been using ABS juice on a glass bed (standard, probably cheap quality, picture frame glass), applied before heating the heatbed to 100 degrees C. Ratio is not something I've calculated - basically, I have a container with acetone, and I put in any garbage ABS (i.e. calibration prints, print perimeters).

First layer sticks well. After printing finishes and the glass cools down, prints pop off with a bit of torsion. I normally leave the glass on the heatbed, as I'm worried taking it off may cool it off too quickly and lead to cracking. Prints have a shiny bottom surface, which I'm guessing is because of the ABS juice, but I may be wrong on that.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby CL1 » 2012-Jul-Mon-12-Jul

sjai013 wrote:Prints have a shiny bottom surface, which I'm guessing is because of the ABS juice, but I may be wrong on that.

Even without the juice they are shiny. Basically the bottom layer is melted against the surface and will reproduce its smoothness. For glass or flat tape, that means shiny.

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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby sebastian » 2012-Jul-Thu-17-Jul

I use white painters tape (never seen blue tape here in the Netherlands) for my ABS, directly on the heaterboard. Wipe it down with a piece of paper and some Windex window cleaner.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby ecnelutalf » 2012-Jul-Thu-22-Jul

I tried blue tape and found that it stuck to my prints.
I tried kapton tape and it would rip when trying to remove the skirt from the prints.
I tried right on the glass, but it would lift.
I tried sugar water (1/4 cup per liter) and found it worked great... under certain conditions.

I start by completely cleaning the glass. Then I spray the sugar water on using a spritzer when the heat bed is hot. I spread it around with a foam paint brush to get an even layer after it evaporates.
I then take a razor blade and lightly scrape it off, being sure not to completely remove it all from the surface. My next print has about a 50/50 chance of over sticking to the bed, so I print thin flat design.
I let the bed cool to room temperature (or near it if I am impatient - about 28C) and remove it and the skirt with a razor blade. I can then run about 30 prints with no lift and no sticking and most importantly not cleaning it with anything more than a razor blade.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby moltenplastic » 2012-Aug-Fri-19-Aug

Hello BotMasters!

Here is how I get mine to work;

PREP:

a) when you warm up the glass bed and the printer head, do not overheat or heat more than you would when printing in the middle of the print. Many people heat the glass bed hotter during that first print. Don't, or your first layers are thinner and the bottom of the print squishes out slightly. (Please refer to your Printer's journal/diary for the best temp for the color plastic you are using. If you don't have a printer's journal/diary, you should start one. At least on your computer in notepad......)

b) melt 2" abs plastic (same color as you are about to print) in approx 6oz acetone; take a natural hair brush (NEVER SYNTHETIC) and quickly/carefully paint the heating bed with the abs/acetione solution, if any hairs from the brush get on the surface, dip the brush in acetone and brush the hair off the platform.

c) prior to printing, take cheap, high-heat hair dryer (got mine for $7.99 at Big Lots) and NUKE the bed in the center of the print area for 2 minutes

d) manually extrude a nice glob from the print head; maintain heat on the bed with the hair dryer (turned down to 3/4 high heat; cleanup the glob and begin the print)

PRINT:

a) during first couple of layers, maintain some hair dryer on the surface, waving it back and forth; dont go crazy

b) after first couple of layers printing @ 30mmps for walls @ 60 mmps infill, turn off hair dryer and sit back. (I often tweak my speeds up after the first couple of layers, if your software allows it, you should too.)


I am compelled to say that while the above steps work for me, you might want to gently step when making changes to your printing methods.

I'd also like to point out that since I started to use the above method, I have not once broken a part or needed to use any type of tape on my heated glass bed, (which I microsopically scuffed with toothpaste mixed 50/50 with baking soda)

Until several months ago, I used a Prusa Mendel, (R.I.P.). I finally broke down and spent $900 this morning on a Printerbot Plus LC & a bunch of other gear, (less than half the cost and three times the machine, YOU ROCK BROOK!). I plan on using it to help me finish my new Rostock printer. I am attempting to build a Rostock with a build area of 6"x6"x12" Wish me luck!

-Wyatt
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Great suggestion!

Postby CL1 » 2012-Aug-Fri-19-Aug

moltenplastic wrote: (Please refer to your Printer's journal/diary for the best temp for the color plastic you are using. If you don't have a printer's journal/diary, you should start one. At least on your computer in notepad......)

Clipped this for emphasis because it is really a great suggestion if you want improved results from your Bot.

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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby moltenplastic » 2012-Aug-Sat-14-Aug

If you don't write it down.....

.....it didn't happen!

Something my first boss pounded into me.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby Mooselake » 2012-Aug-Sun-22-Aug

If you're in the states those spiral bound notepads are on sale really really cheap. I think I paid a dime each for 10 of the 70 page ones, might have been 17 cents.

I've had good luck printing on dealextreme PET tape over glass roughed up (PET, not the glass) a bit with a nylon sponge/scrubber thing. It wouldn't stick without the roughing up, and if you rough it up too much it's really hard to get parts off. While Koptan didn't need any roughing it didn't last very long, the PET keeps going until I run the nozzle into it (dang bed shimming issues...).

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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby St Elmo » 2012-Sep-Fri-13-Sep

I use 3mm mirror glass then sand it to a nice frosty surface using orbital sander with 60 grit paper. I like the mirror, no cracking yet at high bed temperature. I tried standard 3mm window glass but it cracks. To assist with sticking of ABS to the glass i first apply a coat of ABS/Acetone solution with a brush. I tried applying the coating at various bed temperatures. The colder bed (room temperature) worked as well as higher temperatures for the coating. Setting of the printer is extruder at 230 deg for first layer then 210 deg for following layers. Fan starts after first layer. The bed is set to 110 deg. Nozzle must be close to bed. Literature suggest about paper thickness. All this works for me and never had an ABS print not sticking.

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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby plexus » 2012-Oct-Wed-11-Oct

I was using 3mm window glass but prints were sticking so bad that i had to break the glass to get them off. also, if i let the prints cool they would pull off a chunk off the surface of the glass rending it useless to print on. i tried 6mm glass and that was better for getting prints off but still exhibited the problem of a chunk being taken off the surface. if i use less ABS Juice then the prints wont stick when printing.

I gave up on glass and went to metal. 7075 T6 aluminum to be specific. this has similar hardness and rigidity as stainless steel at 1/3 the weight, a 3mm plate weighs close to the same as glass. prints stick well, it has better thermal characteristics (heats up faster) and of course wont break even if i were to have to take it off to chisel off a print.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby St Elmo » 2012-Oct-Thu-09-Oct

Do you have to do pre-preparion of the aluminium? I want to give it a try.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby plexus » 2012-Oct-Thu-13-Oct

St Elmo wrote:Do you have to do pre-preparion of the aluminium? I want to give it a try.


At first I couldn't get ABS to stick. in the end it was a combination of sanding the surface down a bit with 600 silicon carbide paper and putting a thicker coat of ABS Juice on it than I was using on glass. now things stick really well.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby vgvallee » 2012-Oct-Tue-11-Oct

I have an aluminum bed as well, but I use painter's tape on top. The very first bit does not always stick right away but it's always the skirt (I do 2 passes just to make sure). May have something to do with the waiting period between pressing print and the printer actually starting. While waiting, there is always a bit of material coming out of the extruder so that when it does start, there might be less material in the nozzle ready.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby Mooselake » 2012-Oct-Mon-21-Oct

I just tried sandblasted regular glass, blasted wth slag at 100psi with a siphon blaster until evenly frosted. Nothing else on glass, cleaned with denatured alcohol first.

With repraper white PLA, 0.3mm layers, 180C. Test print is a 10mm cylinder with a 5mm (yes, a bit big) brim.

Unheated bed (about 20C), no stick.

Bed at 40C, fan after first layer, Eddie's test print stuck well and took a little prying to remove, but smaller prints came loose in a few layers and the brim curled when the fan came on.

Bed at 60C, fan at layer 5, looks like a success. Stuck well when bed warm, popped off with an exacto knife after cooled to 50C with a desk fan. bottom surface a bit rough like the glass.

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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby dataway » 2012-Nov-Fri-16-Nov

I use normal window glass and have not broken it yet and also use kapton tape to cove it with. I also found that by sanding the kapton tape on the glass with 400 grit sand paper to rough it up a bit works very well. I also use a tip I read somewhere else to apply the kapton evenly to use windex to wet the glass first then you can slide the kapton into place and use a credit card to smooth it out it works great...
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby fusio » 2012-Nov-Fri-08-Nov

Whats the point having a 3D printer where the surface structure doesnt work????
Printrbot, step up the game and send out a surface that works... This is just annoying and the machine is worthless without a printable surface...
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby plexus » 2012-Nov-Fri-11-Nov

fusio wrote:Whats the point having a 3D printer where the surface structure doesnt work????
Printrbot, step up the game and send out a surface that works... This is just annoying and the machine is worthless without a printable surface...


The bare print bed works ok with painters tape and i needed to either sand it down and/or use ABS juice. with the all the experimenting it appears that there is no perfect surface that works for everyone. its one of the opportunities for a 3D printer company to come out with a defacto reliable printing surface.

Right now i am using 7075 T6 aluminum and ABS juice.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby eddiema » 2012-Nov-Fri-21-Nov

fusio wrote:Whats the point having a 3D printer where the surface structure doesnt work????
Printrbot, step up the game and send out a surface that works... This is just annoying and the machine is worthless without a printable surface...

The supplied surface does work - but it isn't very level or long lasting.
Once I took the gloss off - the bare hot bed was reasonable for printing both ABS and PLA.
One of the first jobs was printing glass clamps for my $3 picture frame glass.
When the printer was released glass was the popular and readily available choice. Brooke didn't want to ship glass for a number reasons and said it is easier for people to get there own.
Since then there has been a bit of experimentation done with surfaces and coatings.
ATM I'm back to using glass because a sugar mix I'm using tends to build up on metal but is easy to clean off glass.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby wd5gnr » 2012-Dec-Sun-23-Dec

I had been following all the discussion and laid in Kapton squares, floor wax, hair spray, and everything else. Now I have made 2 prints plus a lot of ruined prints while I was troubleshooting some extruder issues. I gotta say.. the Aqua Net hair spray is perfect. My bed gets to about 200F by IR thermometer (but the interface SW says 80C--not sure why that is). The bed has glass (cheap glass from Home Depot) on top and a silicone trivet underneath.

The ABS sticks 100% of the time. No issue at all. When the bed cools, the part just pops off like a cookie off a sheet. I just spray kind of "across" the bed so a light film is over the whole bed (done it hot and done it cold, doesn't seem to matter). Cheap and easy.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby gyronictonic » 2012-Dec-Mon-12-Dec

My knowledge on material science is a bit rusty but might have a theory why abs is so picky at choosing what surfaces to stay on.

The keyword is POLYMER

After reading through this thread, it suddenly hit me that a polymer base material/solution is what makes abs stick. We all know ABS is a thermoplastic polymer and it loves to stick on kapton. Why? Well, let's look at what kapton is made of.

"Kapton is a polyimide film developed by DuPont which can remain stable in a wide range of temperatures, from −273 to +400 °C (−459 – 752 °F / 0 – 673 K).[1] Kapton is used in, among other things, flexible printed circuits (flexible electronics) and thermal micrometeoroid garments, the outside layer of space suits." ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapton

Ok, so why does hairspray work too? If we look up what the ingredients of regular hairspray, we get this,

"Hair spray products are a blend of simple industrial polymers that provide structural support to hair. These frequently include copolymers of polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and polyvinyl acetate (PV)."
~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair_spray

The same goes for floor finish/wax, a polymer solution. In theory, ABS plastic will stick to any type of polymer base material or solution. Once the ABS plastic is extruded on top of the kapton or hairspray, it is possible that it forms a bond or a weak copolymer structure right at the surface, just strong enough to stick.

I looked around for something less messier than hairspray and saw this, http://www.amazon.com/Blackfire-Polymer ... B005QAI466. I'm going to look around my local autozone and pick up a polymer spray to see if this will work.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby plexus » 2012-Dec-Mon-16-Dec

I just put a new metal heat bed on my PB. aluminum 7075 T6. what i did, from past experience, was to paint on some ABS juice while the bed was at room temp. two coats. this puts a nice thin but consistent coating of ABS on the bed. from then on its just a matter of re-coating it from time to time as the coat wears away after many prints. the problem with this is the opposite of most: too much sticking. i often have prints i can't get off the bed without using a razor blade based scraper and a hammer to chisel the print off the bed. much preferable to prints that don't stick however.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby Table83 » 2013-Jan-Tue-01-Jan

Has anyone tried printing on some of those heat resistant silicone sheets?
http://www.target.com/p/baking-sheet/-/ ... sku=568775

I'm thinking of putting it on top of my glass. Thoughts?
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby holmes4 » 2013-Jan-Tue-10-Jan

These baking sheets are designed for things to NOT stick to them. Not what you want here.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby plexus » 2013-Jan-Tue-18-Jan

@drawcut i moved this thread from hardware>newbie to project>troubleshooting. i was wondering if you could update your excellent first post to include some info about using hair spray as many people have reported it works well?
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby plexus » 2013-Jan-Tue-21-Jan

I used hair spray for the first time tonight. cleaned off the aluminum print bed with acetone. applied the hair spray. its very sticky stuff, ultra hold. its not auqua net. its TRESemme. might as well be spray paint. lol

anyway, a thin layer did not work. then i laid in on thicker. first layers were just beautiful. but i am getting pretty severe shrinkage on the lower layers. i guess because it doesn't stick as well as ABS juice. i suppose maybe a lower temp print bed? im running 90C. cant really go higher.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby mikemwa53 » 2013-Jan-Tue-22-Jan

I've been using the Aquanet Unscented Extra Super Hold hair spray on my aluminum bed with Kapton tape for a couple months now. It has by far worked better than anything else I've used including ABS juice and is less messy. All you need is a little spray. It doesn't need to be thick like paint. My temperatures are 210 for the hot end and 70 for the heated bed for almost all of my prints. Probably different formulas in the different sprays.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby plexus » 2013-Jan-Tue-22-Jan

mikemwa53 wrote:I've been using the Aquanet Unscented Extra Super Hold hair spray on my aluminum bed with Kapton tape for a couple months now. It has by far worked better than anything else I've used including ABS juice and is less messy. All you need is a little spray. It doesn't need to be thick like paint. My temperatures are 210 for the hot end and 70 for the heated bed for almost all of my prints. Probably different formulas in the different sprays.


It could be a 90C bed is too hot. although usually a heated bed helps with LESS curl because the layers dont cool down. but maybe there is some heat induced shrinkage, for example if you heat a plastic bag is shrivels up. i will try with a cooler bed.

The hair spray i have is TRESemme and it has:
Code: Select all
denatured alcohol, hydrofluorocarbon 152A, octylacrylamide/acrylates/utylaminoethyl, methacrylate copolymer, Va/Crotonates/vinyl neodecanoate copolymer,ammomethyl propanol, dimethyl stearamine, acetyl hexamethyl indian

what's yours contain?
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby mikemwa53 » 2013-Jan-Tue-22-Jan

Yeah, The Aquanet has a lot of the same plus/minus some others.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby plexus » 2013-Jan-Wed-00-Jan

UPDATE: i dropped the bed temp to 65C down from my usual 90C. with ABS Juice i needed to run at 90C to prevent curl. but i am about 30 layers into a 5 hour 100µm layer print of a spur gear. the first one, using hair spray, at 90C bed had bad shrinkage on the first 1/4 of the print (about 30 100µm layers). now i am running at 65C and 30 layers have printed and so far no shrinkage. i think the last print was showing shrinkage at this point.

I can't stay up for this to finish but will report in the morning. its the large spur gear for the wood extruder from gecko. the first one i did on ABS Juice stuck too well and i had to bend it to get it off, deforming it. i want a nice flat one so decided to try hair spray. it came off the bed really easy but i think the less stickiness of it allowed shrinkage and am speculating/hoping that its because of the hot 90C bed. will report tomorrow when its done. and i will try and post pics.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby plexus » 2013-Jan-Wed-11-Jan

I did the same print @ bed 65C. this was much better than at 90C (with hair spray). I don't think there is a magic brand of hair spray, or at least it would be highly unlikely as they all pretty much use the same chemicals. anyway, with 65C there was some lift on one side of the print but no major layer shinkage. i will run the print again in the middle at 77C.

seems that hair spray doesn't stick as much as ABS Juice. the less stick is preferable from my experiences as ABS Juice sticks so much that i have to chisel the piece off the bed often deforming it or removing bottom layers if it really sticks. it seems that hair spray offers a better balance between stick and print issues such as curl. we'll see how the print does at 77C.

One thing I am finding is that I need a rough coating of about 3-4 layers for good stick with hair spray. i have tried 2 coats applied when cold but that didn't work. even 4 cold coats didn't work reliably. what works best is to apply the hair spray when the bed is hot. then it bubbles up a bit and provides a rough surface that I get decent stick with.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby mdfast1 » 2013-Jan-Wed-12-Jan

I'm going to give hairspray a shot tonight. Kapton is really good at sticking my piece, but removing it is a whole other chore and I've ruined quite a few pieces due to being TOO stuck.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby plexus » 2013-Jan-Wed-20-Jan

I printed the same part (gecko's large spur gear) at 77C and that was better. still a little bit of curl on one side but not as bad as at 65C. so i am going to settle on 75C. hair spray is better than ABS Juice because with HS there can be some curl but with ABSJ there is often too much stick which requires some heavy handedness to get the part off which can often wreck it. so I will continue to work with HS.

a little trick: i sprayed a bunch of hairspray into a container. this way i can paint it on instead of spray it on. what i used was a funnel and some saran wrap. i put the saran wrap over the top of the funnel with the nozzle of the hair spray pointed into the funnel. the saran wrap covers it all to prevent spray back. then just spray into a container. i use a glue container with an integrated brush I got at a hobby shop. the hair spray has to sit for a little bit to allow the propellant to evaporate out of it. otherwise if the container is closed it could explode.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby Michele31415 » 2013-Jan-Sun-02-Jan

I'm telling you guys - dryer sheets. My prints were sticking to the Kapton tape like barnacles. I had to literally chisel them off the bed, often taking bits of tape with them. ABS juice helped a bit but not enough. I tried wiping the bed with a used dryer sheet before starting and now the ABS sticks fine while printing but just pops right off when done.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby Bob-StPaul » 2013-Mar-Wed-16-Mar

For PLA: both the "Printrbot" clear and ProtoParadigm blue -

Unheated (which here in my MN house means 67F) double strength glass from the hardware store, lightly sprayed with the unscented AquaNet Extra Super Hold and then spread with a finger. (I think the slight texture from my finger helps.) Once the build up starts to transfer a pattern to the print, I scape it down with a razor blade held in a printed handle and start with a fresh coat of hair spray. 187 to 195C first layer temp and 195 to 200C extrusion temp after that.

Sometimes small parts don't stick in the corners - and a .1mm brim takes care of that and is easy to trim off post-printing. Alternately I've seen recomendations to use "mouse ears" at key hard to stick points, or to build 1 or 2 perimiter thick walls very close to the print to help shield those corners.

With a brim - I've had a few prints that were nearly impossible to remove - until I printed and started using my razor scraper. (Advantage of the printed handle over a typical window scraper, besides price and cool factor, is that it lets me hold the razor at a lower angle relative to the glass.) Very easy to break the bond.
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Re: Printing Surfaces (transparency film)

Postby smtfish » 2013-Apr-Mon-20-Apr

After using the painter's tape and peeling the tape and print off of the bed simultaneously, I decided to try old overhead transparency film designed for laser printers. My logic was that the film is designed to adhere to toner (sticky) and to survive the high temperatures of the fuser (heat resistant). I've been looking for a way to use this material as I don't know anyone who uses overheads anymore.

I cut a 200 mm x 200 mm piece with a paper cutter, placed it on top of a piece of glass and then binder clipped the assembly to the plywood base. I removed the heated base because my binder clips were not thick enough.

Benefits
+Sticks to PLA effectively when printing. I'll try ABS eventually.
+The bottom layer of the print is smooth. I saw at least one person mention that they don't like the texture of the painter's tape so this is an alternative.
+It easy to remove a print. Just unclip, lift the print and bend the transparency film. This makes removing the perimeter and any other waste material easy.
+Quick turnaround time. I can remove the transparency film, insert a clean piece and start a new print. I have used the film multiple times and cleaned any hand oils off with alcohol.

Main Drawback
-For taller prints (even Mr Jaws at only 12 mm height) the film flexes and the top of the print sways a little as the printhead drags across the printed surface. This may create a slightly curved bottom layer. (Thinking outside the box, this drawback could be a benefit).

--Some possible solutions to this problem are:
--->Cool the surface faster with more fan power or print slower to allow the base to harden before the higher layers are printed.
--->Attach a temporary adhesive between the film and glass
--->Design a better temporary attachment system than binder clips for attaching the film.
--->Find a thicker/more rigid transparency film (not desirable as I'd prefer to use the material I already have on hand).
--->For a more permanent solution, maybe I could use Spray-a-gasket with the transparency film and bypass the high cost of using kapton tape?

For now, my kludge is to stack a bunch of quarters around the base of the print after it has started. It gives me something to do while wait for the print to finish :D.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby spaceorange12 » 2013-Nov-Sat-22-Nov

I have seen people using some thick green Scotch painters tape. I currently have it on my print bed, if you do use this method get the strong-adhesive type. The stronger adhesive prevents the tape from coming off with the printed object.
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RIP Printrbot 1405
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby REPRAP SQUAD » 2013-Nov-Sun-14-Nov

spaceorange12 wrote:I have seen people using some thick green Scotch painters tape. I currently have it on my print bed, if you do use this method get the strong-adhesive type. The stronger adhesive prevents the tape from coming off with the printed object.


Me too, I'm using green frog tape on top of blue painters tape.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby ThereWillBprints2 » 2015-Apr-Thu-04-Apr

Dollar store tape, thick acrylic plate cut from Lowes(there are two more), fishing line.
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby msizemore » 2015-Apr-Sat-08-Apr

Having a slightly under-powered heated bed, I've always had to use purple glue stick on my glass bed. Recently I got my hands on some 8" silicon wafers that were copper plated on one side. The copper plating triggers the inductive sensor on my Simple Metal and the silicon wafer provides a perfectly flat, glass-like surface to print on. I set the wafer on a piece of silicone baking sheet and it doesn't require any clamping down to the bed. So after a print I can just switch out the wafer with a blank one. The silicone baking sheet should work for glass as well, though I haven't specifically tried glass without clamping it down.

IMG_6332.JPG


IMG_6377.JPG
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Printrbot Simple Metal with Heated Bed, E3D v6, and Bowden Air
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby bbrown64 » 2015-May-Thu-12-May

PLA has to be dry. Or the surfaces will be ugly. PLA does not require a heated bed however, I find that if the bed is around 40C the part sticks better. It is also advisable to use a Skirt to prime the extruder and use a Brim to hold the part to the bed. Currently I am printing white color and the extruder/bed temp are 195/40. I print directly on Kapton. I do not need to use any special adhesive to keep my parts anchored to the bed. I have a very good profile that I use. If anyone would like it please contact me. I will share the profile with anyone. I use Cura version 15.04, Cura has a new plugin also that is available for download. The plugin is Retract While Combing. It works well with PLA.
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Bill Brown
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Re: Printing Surfaces

Postby Mooselake » 2015-May-Thu-14-May

Just a minor caution. While looking at other people's profiles is a good starting point, and highly recommended, it's very unlikely you can use them unmodified. It would also be nice if I had enough hair so combing, with or without retract, mattered. I'll have to go check that one out.

The tolerances on your printer, even if it's the same make and model, are different. Your print surface will be different. Your probe, if so equipped, will be different combined with different bed warpage and "leveling". Your filament, even if it's from the same supplier, will be different (and this is likely true even if it's from the same batch ordered on the same day, our filaments are a veritable stew of variable components). Your extruder (including it's sensor) will be different. Close, maybe, but still different

I haven't used Cura in a while, but if you can get a text version, use the full editor and wrap our profile in a code box for us, Bill.

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