Put away your masking tape, hair spray, or whatever, because here is an easy way to make your own reusable print bed for your 3D printer!
Please note that this is intended for use with PLA on a non-heated bed. I print at a relatively low temperature of 190-195° C and I always have my extruder fan running, even during warm up. Do not use this mat with a heated bed. If you proceed please do so with caution and at your own risk!
Step 1: Get Your Material
The print bed is made out of a vinyl place mat that I got from Walmart for under $3. Wait a minute, you said $1 beds! That's right, out of one vinyl place mat I was able to yield four beds to use on my Simple Metal. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Now specifically the mat we want is by Mainstays and has UPC 0-28332-52351-6. At my local store they offered two colors, red and beige. There's two sides to this mat, the glossy finish that is the top and underneath a matte, burlap texture. We want to print on the matte side, the glossy side will melt!
We will also need a glue stick. You know, a popular snack in kindergarten classes. Don't eat it all, we'll need some later.
Step 2: Cut to Size
Carefully measure your printer's surface. You don't want to cut this exactly to your print volume, you definitely want excess material. In my case I cut the largest sizes I could from the place mat, minimizing waste. I was able to get four mats.
You will want the biggest sizes you can fit, it will help in the next step.
Step 3: Glue It On!
Apply an even coat of the glue stick to the glossy side of the mat. If you cut a big enough size the glue stick will be more than enough to keep the mat flush to the printer's bed and to prevent it from slipping. The best part is that it's easily removable.
I found the best way to clean up the glue is use some glass cleaner and a paper towel to break it down a little. Then follow with a dry paper towel and rub the glue off. That's it!
Step 4: Calibrate Z-Axis
Before you begin printing, make sure you raise the Z-axis of your printer with the M212 command. Also, if you have an auto-bed leveling probe, like the Printrbot Simple Metal, then please make sure the probe is set as low as possible without going past the extruder (obviously). The probe needs to be able to sense the metal bed through the material without plunging the extruder deep into your new print bed.
For example, with just masking tape my Z-axis offset was at -0.78 mm. After adjusting the probe and some couple tests I settled at +0.05 mm.
The extruder does leave a little dimple at it's X/Y home position in the mat but everything still performs great.
Step 5: Summary
That's all there's to it!
Prints come off very easily and cleanly. Your new print bed might come off the printer's surface when you remove something but it's easily pressed back down. Just be sure your Z height is calibrated correctly to prevent your extruder's tip from dragging across the mat and remember, print on the matte side!
For more details on this project check out my article here. Happy printing!