3D printing

3D printer Polycarbonate (Lexan) as print surface

I have a FDM 3D printer for more than a year now and have finally reached a point in the modification and improvements where I am happy with the performance of my machine. I plan to write a series of posts describing the modifications I have made to the cheap Anet A8 kit I got on EBay. There is very little left of it now. I built an enclosure as well that I am very happy with.

This post is about the print surfaces issues that anybody owning or using an FDM 3D printer is familiar with, especially if printing with ABS.

I bought the printer with making abs electronics enclosures in mind. ABS because it is the best material for an sanded and painted enclosures.

I find the ABS juice and glues sticks and such to be too messy, there fore I tried some of those stick on surfaces sold online. I found one that worked for ABS. The one in the picture bellow. Two of those stickers did the job for a year and close to two kilograms of ABS filament.

ABS has great adhesion. For PETG and PLA I would apply a layer of masking tape on top and get great results. But there was a problem. ABS adhesion was good, but when removing the prints the sticker’s surface became uneven. And that make for not flat bottom of the prints, which are actually the fronts of the enclosures I was printing. That was not great. The issue came out to be that the sticker itself is made in layers which were separating when pulling the prints off. It wasn’t the adhesion to the aluminium heat bed as I thought initially.

Therefore I considered searching for other options and as a last resort buying a PEI.

While browsing online I came across some posts about using Poly-carbonate (Lexan) sheet as print surface. Here are the ilnks:

So I decided to try it out. It looked very promising especially after reading the article from the second link.

I prepared a 3mm thick sheet of PC by sanding it with an orbital sander and 100 grid sand paper. Washed and cleaned with alcohol. Then I tried printing some test cubes in ABS, PETG and PLA materials. Good bed first layer adhesion for all of them. And easy enough to remove after twisting and bending the PC sheet a bit after it had cooled to room temperature. Also tried to use unsanded sheet and this confirmed what links above tell – the print did stick way too well and was not possible to remove in one piece.

I have made a short video showing the test and the settings I used as well as the removal of the test objects. Here it is:

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