Looking at heatbeds for 3D printers, in particular a 200 mm x 300 mm for a P3Steel v.4, although a heatbed of that size would also be suitable for a Wilson II, amongst others. One of the things that needs to be considered are the costs of the various configurations. It should be noted that, when compared to the usual 200 mm x 200 mm heatbed/build plates, there is an additional premium to be paid for the larger 200 mm x 300 mm build area.
Note: 300 mm = 11.811 inches, 200 mm = 7.87 inches.
These links contained, what I found to be, some useful tips
- A useful read is Heat Beds in 3D Printing – Advantages and Equipment.
- Is only one half of your heatbed is heating? Is it a 12V/24V PCB. There is a very simple solution, connect both GND pads, see heat bed wiring/ only half of it is heating up.
- Some interesting points are raised regarding unknown thermistors and their beta, see Heat bed Mk3.
- I posted this question on StackExchange.3D Printing, Do aluminium PCB heatbeds reduce hotspots?
Types of heatbed
There are a variety of heatbed formats to choose from, among which are:
- PCB – the usual choice, recommended to have a glass plate, or aluminium tooling plate, to print upon, as the PCB may not be entirely flat
- Aluminium – Does not require a glass plate, resulting in a lighter print bed
- Silicone – Expensive, usually 110V/240V AC, although there are some 12V/24V versions.
Heatbeds should have a low resistance, of around 1 Ω, so be wary of cheap PCB heatbeds, with higher resistances, and their associated hotspots – see Heatbed driving me crazy, Silicon replacement?
The heatbed is heated by a printed circuit, thus:
There are a number of designs out there MK2A, MK2B, MK3, with many people preferring the Mk2B.
Some boards can be powered by 12 V or 24 V. Using 24 V enables thinner wires to be used, due to the lower current. Note that the wiring to the board will be different, depending on whether 12 V or 24 V is used.
Three point levelling
Some beds (MK2B, MK3) offer have an additional mounting hole in the middle of one side, to offer three point levelling, as opposed to four point. Three point levelling could be considered easier:
It’s like balancing a stool. Is it easier to balance a 4 legged stool or a 3?
See Bed levelling springs section below.
Having the heat bed backed by an insulation layer (cork) can enable faster heating, and higher temperatures to be achieved.
Configurations and costs
Among the many options available, there are two common configurations:
- PCB heatbed and a borosilicate glass plate (see below fo aluminium tooling plate instead of the glass plate)
- Aluminium heatbed and a PEI film sheet
A backing of thermal insulation is most advisable in the aluminium heatbed and optional, yet advisable, in the case of the PCB heatbed.
Note that some of these plates do not come with a thermistor, see section on thermistors below.
- Anycubic Dual Power MK3 Heatbed 300*200*3mm Aluminum Heat Bed 12V/24V Perfect, £32.38 (no wires nor thermistor are included)
- Anycubic Dual Power MK3 Heatbed 300*200*3mm Aluminum Heat Bed 12V/24V Perfect for Prusa i3 3D Printer, £19.95
- MK2A 300x200mm Aluminum Heated Bed Hot Bed for RepRap 3D Printer 12V + Wiring + NTC 3950 Thermistor – Upgrade you Prusa i3 for LARGE Printsize, $39.99 + $4.21 (£32.04 + £3.37)
There are cheaper options, but they do not ship to the UK
- HICTOP 3MM MK3 Aluminum Heated Bed Hot Bed PCB Heatbed Platform for Reprap 3D Printer 200W 12V + Wiring by HICTOP, $21.99
- TriGorilla MK2A 300*200*2.0mm Aluminum Heatbed Hotbed Hot Plate for 3D Printer Prusa Mendel by TriGorilla, $21.99
There are cheaper options, but they do not ship to the UK
- RepRap PCB Heatbed 200x300mmby RepRap.me, $25.90
- Anycubic 300x200x2mm MK2A PCB Heatbed for 3D Printer Prusa Mendelby Anycubic, $25.98
Note that it is worth remembering that a silicon heatbed, much like a PCB heatbed, requires additional aluminium bed, or glass plate – so there is not much of an economical advantage to be gained.
- Anycubic 200*300*1.8mm Silicone-rubber Heater 12V 280W Heat Bed for Reprap 3D Printer Heatbed, £19.95
Aluminium tooling plate
There is the alternative of using aluminium tooling plate, en lieu of the glass plate, for the PCB heatbed option. Aluminium tooling plate (also known as MIC-6 or Mic 6) has the advantage of being less prone to breakage, greater thermal conductivity and better at evening out hot-spots. An example is EcoCast at Alumimium Warehouse – UK, £10.10 ex. VAT (£12.12 including VAT) for a 200 mm x 300 mm x 5mm sheet.
From Third party 3D printer build logs, this answer to the question Would a steel, instead of an aluminum, plate be reasonable?, mentions MIC 6 aluminium plate. Aluminum Sheet Between Heater and Glass – interesting thread, that recommends not using aluminium and glass, and to use only an aluminium cast tooling plate instead.
Aluminium backing sheet
This is not tooling plate, but could be useful as a backing plate, from Is a cork board necessary under the heated bed?
Both of my printers have a couple of sheets of 2 mm thick cork sheet underneath the aluminium heatbed.
The sequence is, from the top: glass sheet, 3 mm aluminium heatbed (like this), 2 sheets of 2 mm cork (with the first one cut for clearance around the wires), then a 1.6 mm aluminium plate as a backing. I have washers as spacers between the heatbed and the aluminium plate, with single nylon washers against the heatbed (they press against tracks on the heatbed). The washers prevent any distortion that may be caused by the fixing screws.
This setup allows me to reach 110°C without problems, even though it takes a while. Insulation on top, while it’s heating up, helps a lot.
- 200 mm x 300mm x 4 mm aluminium sheeting: Aluminium Sheet Plate Guillotine Cut – 25 off the shelf sizes -Fly Press Folder, £8.00 or £4.25 for 200 mm x 300 mm x 1.5 mm
- Aluminium Sheet 1mm, 1.2mm, 1.5mm, 2mm, 3mm, 4mm 1050H14 / S1BH4 Various Sizes, £2.72 @ 1.5 mm, £5.49 @ 4 mm
Borosilicate glass plate
- 300*200*3mm Heated Bed Tempered Borosilicate Glass Build Plate for 3D Printer, £16.82
- 300x200x3mm 3D Printer Heated Bed Toughened Glass Clear Build Plate UK STOCK, £10.29 + £1.79
- Heated Bed Tempered Toughened Glass Build Plate for 3D Printer 300x200x3mm, £9.96 + £0.69
- RepRap Champion Borosilicate Glass Print Surface 300x200mm RepRap 3D Printer Prusa i3 Upgrade, $25.99 (£20.81) + $4.34 shipping
As used by the Prusa i3 MK2, and its MK42 heatbed, Polyetherimide (PEI) film (also known as Ultem) provides a superlative 3D printing build surface that requires no tape, slurry, or adhesive, for printing both PLA and ABS. ABS and PLA both stick extremely well to the surface, which eliminates the need for support rafts used for better adhesion. PEI sheets have a glossy and a matt side. The matt side has better adehsion, the glossy side gives a glassy finish to your prints. It helps to wipe the surface down with isopropyl alcohol, methyl alcohol, or soap in between prints. This will ensure the PEI is clean, and help adhesion. Light sanding with 2400 grit paper will also give the PEI sheet more life.
It can be secured to the heatbed using either bulldog clips (as one would do with a borosilicate glass plate (Pyrex)) or 3M 468MP adhesive tape.
Some examples on eBay:
- PEI Sheet for 3D Printer Build Surface Polyetherimide Ultem, for $14.95 (8 x 8 inch), $19.95 (12 x 12 inch) + $13.50
- PEI Sheet 3D Printing Build Surface with 3M 468MP Adhesive Tape, for $16.95/$59.95 (8 x 8 inch/5 pack), $21.95/$84.95 (12 x 12 inch/5 pack) + $22.50
- PEI (Polyetherimide) Sheet, Opaque Natural, Standard Tolerance, ASTM D5205 PEI0113, 0.03″ Thickness, 12″ Width, 12″ Length by Small Parts, $14.70
Useful for inductive levelling as glass plate can not be used – see Mk3 Heated Bed:
I use one of those on my Prusa i3 – works very well with just kapton tape on it, as I use an inductive sensor for auto-levelling and therefore can’t use a sheet of glass.
See also PEI build surface – RepRapWiki.
For tips on fixing the PEI sheet to your heatbed/build plate, see PEI Board for 3D Printer.
An alternative to PEI is Kapton tape sheets, and again necessary for auto-levelling inductive sensors. Good for PLA, although I seemed to remember reading that it is not so good for ABS, but I may be mistaken (link/source?)
There are a number of different materials that could be used for insulation, with cork at one end of the economic scale, and air gel (aerogel) at the other. Here is an instructable guide to using cork: Insulate your 3D Printers Heated Bed.
The actual amount of cork insulation required is debatable, see How much insulation do I really need? Also, there may be concern about the suitability of cork, with respect to flammability, see Has anyone experienced scorching or burning of cork heatbed insulation? However, as the ignition temperature of cork is over 300°C, the risk is minimal.
There are a lot of choices, the best being a 1 meter length roll, as you are getting, effectively, five (200 mm x 300 mm) sheets for the price of two. The excess sheets could be used as stepper motor gaskets:
- Cork Sheet in 5mm – A4 size 200x300mm – for Bases, Craft Projects, Model Trains, £2.50 + £2.15
- 2 pcs Cork Sheet 200 x 300 x 3 mm for model train underlay,craft hobby, £4.77 + £1.49
- 300 mm x 300 mm – 3D Printer Cork Sheet 2mm Thick – Heat bed Insulation, Gaskets and more, RepRap, £3.50
- CORK SHEET – 1 Meter x 300 mm – 2 mm Thick, £2.50 + £2.00
- CORK SHEET- THICKNESS 2, 3, 4mm – SIZES 10×10, 15x15x 20×20, 20x30cm, for 20 cm x 30 cm costs are £3.05 @ 4 mm, £2.65 @ 3 mm, £2.00 @ 2 mm
- Fred Aldous Cork Sheet A4 x 2mm, £2.65
- Adhesive Cork Sheet, £2.95 @ 3 mm x 300 mm X 250 mm
- A cheap alternative is a table mat, although a little thick and 10 mm of Z axis will be lost, Cork Hot Pad – Rectangular (300X200X10MM), £6.69
- Heatbed Thermal Insulator 300 by RepRap.me, $12.99
While it is possible to purchase the thermistors separately, to save time, I looked at options where they were already soldered to 1 m wires, namely NTC 3950 100K thermistors (these are the thermistors that come with some aluminium heatbeds from amazon.com (see section above)):
- 2Pcs For 3D Printer Reprap Ntc 3950 Thermistor 100K With 1 Meter Wire Develope Z, £0.99
- 5pcs 100K 1% 3950 NTC Thermistor with wire for 3D Printer Reprap Glass Sealed 1M, £1.69
Some aluminium heated plates, such as the RepRap PCB Heatbed 200X300 mm (from RepRap.me for £18), come with solder pads for SMD thermistor 1206. However, these come in reels of 10 or 50 or more, and so cost more:
- 50x NTC thermistor/ Thermistor SMD 5.6K Ohm Ω ohms -55 150°C 1206 NC20J00562JBA, £1.36 + £2.56 postage
Initially I had a problem as I couldn’t find a suitable thermistor table to match the one that came with my heatbed – in the end I chose type 7 as that seemed to match the thermistor that the seller provided. Your mileage may vary…
… here’s the line from my configuration.h file (my comments added):
#define TEMP_SENSOR_BED 7 // best fit for thermocouple on RepRap-me aluminium heatbed
Bed levelling springs
- 8 mm – 10 pcs Leveling Extruder Springs for Reprap Prusa Mendel 3D Printer DSUK, £0.99
- 18 mm – 10pcs 3D Printer Springs Bed Level Extruder Idler For RepRap Prusa Mendel, £1.21
From Upgarde Kit 300x200mm Aluminum Heated Bed Buld Plate 3D Printer RepRap Prusa i3, there is a useful list of fitting required to secure the heatbed, and alumium printing plate to the Y carriage:
- 4 x M3 x 25 Stainless socket head countersink screws.
- 8 x M3 Washers.
- 4 x M3 Locknuts.
- 1 x ~50mm High temp silicone rubber tubing
Preparation of P3Steel frame parts
A couple of preparation points for the steel frame parts, prior to assembly:
- Oil is often used on steel plate, during the manufacturing process, in order to prevent corrosion. Clean the steel with brake cleaner to remove oil deposits/coating of the steel. This tip is from Shed and Buried Series 2, episode 15 (Signs and Wonders).
- Spray the steel parts with standard black spray paint:
- Keep the nozzle equidistant from the steel;
- Quick light sprays/strokes applying multiple light coats, and;
- Spray in alternate orientations (horizontally and vertically) to reduce striping.
Aluminium Composite Y-plate
are cheap, $21.89 + $9.00 – cheaper than 6 mm aluminium Y-plates – and are made from Aluminium composite panel (ACP), also aluminium composite material (ACM). See also Wanhao i3 6mm Y carriage.