[reprap-dev] Printing ABS on stainless steel

Jonathan Katz jstkatz at gmail.com
Thu Nov 10 12:00:56 PST 2011

Has anyone tried this with sanded aluminum, the lighter weight and higher
heat transfer make it a better choice if it sticks as well.

On Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 11:28 AM, Matthew Roberts <reprap at mattroberts.org>wrote:

>   Yesterday I described my experiments attempting to print ABS on glass
> (attached far below) – today I have been experimenting with printing onto
> stainless steel.
> I ordered a sheet of 316 stainless (300mm x 210mm x 1.5mm) from
> metaloffcuts.co.uk
> (I chose 1.5mm so that it couldn’t possibly get bend in the post, with
> hindsight I could, and should, have ordered much thinner)
> First conclusion: is that you can, just about, print straight onto
> stainless steel with a “2B” finish.
> As before, I also tried printing on the sheet after sanding (about a
> minute of sanding, by hand, with 150 grit sandpaper – so the roughness is
> probably <0.05mm deep).
> Second conclusion: You can *easily* print on sanded stainless steel.
> Unlike the glass, you don’t seem to need to worry about cold drafts so
> much, so you can turn the number of “skirt” layers down to 1 (or disable
> it), and you don’t seem to need to heat the room either.
> Also, I think that the “ABS in acetone wipe trick” should work with
> stainless as well – although I haven’t felt the need to bother.
> So, in summary: I think I have a winning build platform.  The main benefit
> is that the stainless steel shouldn’t deteriorate with use.
> --
> For reference, I was printing at 250C (although 230C also works) on a bed
> at ~120C (wild guess: the base of the bed was at 130C).
> For amusement, you shouldn’t order such a thick sheet if you wish to
> repeat this experiment – the extra mass means that my Y axis now has a much
> lower maximum acceleration!
> Finally, a fair time ago I tried printing on FR4 – and like nophead (
> http://hydraraptor.blogspot.com/2011/06/fr4-fail.html ) it works for a
> while and then dies.
>  *From:* Matthew Roberts <reprap at mattroberts.org>
> *Sent:* Wednesday, November 09, 2011 12:00 PM
> *To:* reprap-dev at lists.reprap.org
> *Subject:* [reprap-dev] Printing ABS on glass
>   I came across this http://www.thingiverse.com/image:78399 that was
> printed on a http://www.fablicator.com/
>  My thought was that the build surface looks nice (no tape), and the
> plastic looks like ABS.  A bit of digging later and I found out that the
> build surface is borosilicate glass.
> Other people have tried to use ABS on borosilicate without success:
> http://forums.reprap.org/read.php?4,91047,page=2<http://forums.reprap.org/read.php?4,91047,page=2%C2%A0%20But>
>   But I thought that I’d give it a go anyway.
>  So, I got three microscope slides put them side by side on my bed and
> attached them (at the edges) with tape – making a ~70mm square glass build
> platform.
>  That didn’t work, so I roughed up the surface of glass (sandpaper does
> work, but I used a dremel).  The idea is that more mechanical grip should
> be better.  And the result is that it works (ish).
>  In summary:
>   On smooth glass,
> Printing ABS at any temperature (220C-260C) on to the slides at any
> temperature (100C-150C) doesn’t work.
>  On sanded glass, Printing ABS at highish temperatures (240C-260C) on the
> slides at a claimed 125C works.
>    Also, the first layer needs to be compressed into the glass to
> maximise the mechanical grip.
>  --
>  But... warping is a problem.  Even when it works, the glass doesn’t
> offer nearly as much grip as kapton – so you need to pull several tricks to
> reduce warping.  In principle, these tricks work regardless of the build
> platform – it is just that you need to do that to do them all with a glass
> bed:
>  The first trick is to stop cold air causing the object to detach at the
> edges... I used the skirt in skeinforge with enough layers to reach ~3mm
> height.  (you can use this trick to your advantage – you can detach objects
> by letting the bed cool a little and then blowing cold air on them.)
>  The second trick is to make sure that you are not stretching the ABS too
> much when printing.  If you stretch the plastic too much, then the plastic
> you lay down as perimeters is under tension – so after a few layers it will
> lift the corners and start to peel.  There are two ways to do this:
>      extrude at a higher temperature.
>      increase either the layer height and extrusion width (and plastic
> flow rate).
>  The third trick is make sure that the bed is surrounded by warm air –
> either a heated chamber or by simply closing the doors and windows in the
> room.  (This means that the plastic will not cool as far below its glass
> point, which should reduce the warping due to thermal contraction).
>  --
>  More on the second trick: I’ve noticed that printing with the same cross
> sectional area gives almost the same amount of warp – i.e. a 0.1mm layer
> height with a 0.9mm extrusion width is very similar to 0.15 x 0.6 and 0.2 x
> 0.45.  I suspect that to minimise this cause of warping: one should use a
> cross sectional area slightly smaller that extrusion into air.  (you need
> some stretching, otherwise bridges will be impossible).
>  As an aside,
> I believe that PLA swells less than ABS as it leaves the extruder – which
> means that naturally you’ll stretch PLA less (i.e. using the same layer
> height and extrusion width) – so this is probably one of the effects that
> makes printing with PLA on glass work better than ABS on glass.
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Jonathan Katz
Creative Machines Inc.
3113 East Columbia Street
Tucson, AZ 85714
(520) 294-0939
(800) 861-7937 toll-free in North America
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We create objects and environments that encourage
creativity, support social interaction, and inspire self-confidence.

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