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I am new to 3D printing. I have just put together my own 3D printer with some help.

I was advised I shouldn't print directly onto the aluminium plate - I assume it's aluminium.

  1. The manufacturer did give me a piece of matrix board (i.e. no cooper at all) to print on. Will this work well?

  2. If glass is better, does it have to cover the entire bed? My bed is 275 mm deep by 220 mm wide. I'm struggling to find glass for it that will come within the next few days. The only custom cut was on eBay and it's going to take over a week to arrive.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is this the aluminum plate that's bolted on top of the heater plate? If so, yes you can use that as your base. Common methods include covering with blue painter's tape or hairspray. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Oct 13 '16 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ You can try putting a thin layer of paper glue (I use Uhu brand) directly on the aluminium. I use it on glass and can print PLA without heated bed. $\endgroup$ – Nicu Surdu Feb 15 '17 at 11:04
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Obviously being in a rush can limit your options, but here are a few thoughts:

Quick solutions:

  • Blue painters tape (as Carl mentioned) will work directly on your heated bed...assuming it's a flat piece of aluminum with the heating element under it. Your surface does need to be flat.
  • Acrylic plate will work but is best with no heat, or low heat. PLA sticks to it. It's easy to cut and easy to find at local hardware stores.
  • Scrap glass is fairly easy to find for free and it's not that hard to cut...or buy some at your local hardware store and have them cut it. Just be careful, it's sharp. You can sand the sharp edges (wet sandpaper) to make it safer. No, it doesn't have to cover the whole plate, but obviously covering the whole plate would normally be preferred.

Better (but not as fast) solutions:

  • Buy some custom tempered glass. I like One Day Glass because they're fast and very capable. Like Tom says, many many people print on glass because it's nice and flat and stiff. It's also easy to clean and holds up well. You can print on the bare glass with many materials or use various preparations like PVA (glue stick or white glue diluted with water are popular), hairspray, or others.
  • Touch Screen Glass: Some people like replacement glass for tablets or touch screens because it has a hardened scratch-resistant surface. I've not tried it, but if you can find one that is the right size, it might be worth a shot.
  • Specialty products: There are many many print bed products out there that promise an easier/better printing experience. I've used a few that are okay...definitely better than blue painters tape, but I much prefer my current favorite...
  • My current favorite is PEI. Use a 3M 468MP adhesive sheet (it handles the heat well) to stick a thin sheet PEI (also sold under brand name Ultem) on top of your glass plate. I got this idea from Lulzbot and it's what they use on all of their printers. It works beautifully. Common filaments stick to it while it's hot and release easily while it's cool. For other filaments I just use PVA like I would over glass. For material printing tips and settings that work well on PEI beds, check out Lulzbot's site. When it starts wearing out or getting scuffed up, I just sand it with fine sandpaper and I'm good to go for another hundred prints or so.
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    $\begingroup$ The painters' tape can also be white, what matters it, that it has a fine coarse surface. $\endgroup$ – Trish Oct 28 '18 at 10:03
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Printing on glass is very common because it is very flat and leaves a very smooth finish on the bottom of prints. The perfboard will also work fine, but is not an as common choice because prints are harder to remove from it.

Printing directly onto the heater PCB is uncommon since it is usually not flat enough and you may damage it while removing the print.

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    $\begingroup$ ok so if it's harder to remove from perf board, are there any tips you can give me $\endgroup$ – Ageis Oct 13 '16 at 9:32
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In Russia, a common coating for an aluminum plate is masking paper tape.

Instead of ordinary glass, we often use a mirror, it is smoother.

Hair spray, sugar syrup and beer are also used as adhesives. It is not joke - their residue is sticky and can be rinsed off.

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  • $\begingroup$ good point on suggar - do you dilute it before using and how thin a coating? Dry it or on wet? Hairspray is known to work, as it is pretty much PVA. $\endgroup$ – Trish Jan 10 '19 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ I myself do not use sugar as adhesive. I need only PVA glue stick and a solution of BF-2 in isopropanol. BF-2 is the famous russian glue, unfortunately, I don’t know any analogues. About sugar syrup, I read that it should be liquid (free to drip) and applied with a brush on a cold table. $\endgroup$ – Dmitry Kasatsky Jan 11 '19 at 6:00
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I have been printing for over 2 years directly onto the 3 mm Aluminum heated bed platform using a touch of PVA based print adhesion spray 3DLAC or Dimafix (see e.g. this answer on question "Should you use hairspray on a metal bed 3D printer? "). I've obtained best results with 3DLAC. Works like a charm! Always good adhesion and a very shiny and flat surface finish. I have not found any downsides of printing directly onto the Aluminum, I find it very easy as I do not have to fight that dreadful tape (application, bubbling, tearing, etc.).

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