I recently insulated the hot bed on my 3D printer. This has great benefits for your printer and your printed parts.
What usually happens is that a lot of the power from your heated bed is lost as heat going in the opposite direction of where you want it. You want the heat to rise to your print area, but a lot of heat escapes from the heating element and downwards. Where you have no use of the heat and the power is wasted.
Now you may be thinking that modifying and improving your 3D printer is going to be either expensive, difficult, or both. I'm happy to report this is a super cheap and easy hack which leaves you with the satisfying feeling of truly owning your stuff when you modify it.
Insulating the underside of your heated bed gives you faster heating speed and more stable temperatures.
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Here we go!
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- X-acto knife
- 4 x Springs
- The key is to have looser springs than the ones that are already on your printer
- I just used the springs from four identical pens. Boom, free springs!
- Cork is fantastic for heat insulation!
- I was so happy when I found the AVSKILD cork mats from IKEA. These have a big are and cost 4 USD for 4, we only use one mat
That's it! Get ready for a super cheap and easy improvement to your 3D printer.
Step 2: Removing the Printing Area
Start by removing the print bed and the heating element. Before you touch any of these wires be sure and unplug the power supply. Don't want to accidentally burn or shock your fingers.
How you do this depends on your printer. Arguably the most popular hobby printer is a derivative of the Mendel Prusa i3 design. Here you just unscrew the leveling screws in each of the corners of the bed.
After these screws are of you can lift the whole bed. Completely remove the print plate, aluminium, glass, or whatever you use. We will use this plate as a cutting guide in the next step.
Step 3: Cutting the Cork
Now take one of your cheap cork mats. Again, I'm super satisfied with how cheap these were!
Place your print bed, in my case aluminum, on the cork mat so two of the edges line up. Carefully, an on a safe cutting mat, use the two other edges of your print bed as a cutting guide.
I found it the easiest to do two-three passes to completely cut the cork.
Now you have nice slab of cork. We need to make screw holes to mount everything back together.
"How?" you ask, "I can't possibly cut such a tiny hole with precision!".
Despair not, making the holes couldn't be easier. Just use one of your leveling screws to push a hole on the corners of the cork mat.
Do this slowly so the cork doesn't fray. Also, you wan't to use your print bed as a guide once again, so the screw holes line up at the right spots.
Step 4: Putting Everything Back Together
Whats left? You're basically done!
Now, if you have thick wires like I do, you should cut a spot for the wires so the cork mat sits flush up against the underside of the heating element.
All that's left is to put the print bed sandwich back together. The order goes like this from the bottom up:
- Adjustment nut
- Use the less stiff spring because there is now more area under the adjustment screw
- Cork mat
- Heating element
- Print bed
- Adjustment screw
- Masking tape
The masking tape is of course optional. It is just what I chose to print on to get good grip on the first layer.
Congratulations you're done! Fire up your printer and enjoy faster heating speed and more stable temperature.