3D Print in More Materials with the Heated Bed

The Heated Build Platform, which is standard on the Series 1 Pro, lets you print in many more materials than you could without it. But what is a heated build platform, and why should you use one?

A heated bed is a 3D printing surface which, you guessed it, can heat up to specific temperatures as needed to print certain materials such as forms of ABS and Nylons, as well as Polycarbonate and Blueprint for 3D printing light-duty motion components. It consists of an industrial heating pad under a piece of heavy duty borosilicate glass.

Heated beds exist because of a property in physics called thermal expansion. In other words, things get larger when they get hotter. Applied to the world of FDM 3D Printing, every plastic has a coefficient of thermal expansion. Some plastics have much higher thermal expansion coefficients than others. For example, PLA has among the lowest thermal expansion coefficients of 3D printer plastics, and it therefore doesn’t need a heated bed for most prints (though it can help in larger prints). Some plastics are harder to work with because they quickly shrink after being laid onto the bed. When they shrink, they curl up and ruin the print.

If you print such plastics onto pre-heated surfaces, they will shrink less quickly, and therefore remain geometrically stable enough for the print to complete. Thus, in recent years, virtually every industrial and commercial 3D printer has introduced a heat bed as part of their product line.

To enable a wider number of materials the Series 1 can print with, our heated bed goes above and beyond the standard designs that you normally see in the industry. While most of them use high voltage DC which, at the level of power required for a heated bed would require very thick cables and a much larger power supply, our heated bed uses line-level through a solid-state relay (SSR) which is standard in the world of industrial heating solutions.

Using the heated bed on your Series 1 is easy. You don’t have to figure out the best bed temperature for each material, because we provide settings for over 40 materials, and simply by using those pre-made settings, the instructions for the heat bed are included in the gcode that you create as part of the 3D printing process.

If you don’t have a heated bed, your Series 1 will simply ignore the commands, and your print will still work. If you already own a Series 1 and want a heated bed. It’s a part of our upgrade package! Existing customers of our 2014 model will be invited to make the upgrade as soon as it becomes available. Upgradability is a major tenet of our modular 3D printers, meaning that you can purchase a machine today, and still have the latest and greatest technology in the future.

 

Stay tuned for a release of the how to install the heated bed and purchasable kit for upgrading to a heated bed.  

Brandon Toomey