I had some aluminium plate on order but I wanted to knock something up quickly. I figured PLA on blue tape would only need 40-50°C to stop it warping. My bed is made from Dibond, which is 3mm thick and has the following characteristics:
The great thing about it is that it appears to come pretty flat and is strong, light and easy to machine. I wondered if the aluminium layer was thick enough to spread the heat. I didn't think heat would flow though the LDPE very well so I mounted 10 47Ω 50W resistors around the top edge. I have found that for some reason 47Ω are cheaper than the 12Ω ones I used on HydraRaptor's bed. I wired them in pairs in series and then all the pairs in parallel giving 18.8Ω. I connected them to my 48V AC transformer with a small solid state relay. The total power is about 120W. Not as much as I use on my aluminium beds, but plenty of power to get to 50°C quickly. In fact, it warms up faster that my extruder does.
- Thickness of aluminium layers 0.3mm.
- Core polyethylene, type LDPE.
- Surface: lacquering - modified polyester lacquer system.
- Temperature resistance from -50 ° C to +80 ° C.
- Aluminium grade premium A1Mg aluminium alloy.
An initial test showed that the middle was about 10°C cooler than the edge. Not a big surprise considering how thin the aluminium is and how far the heat has to travel. When I measured the other side the difference was only about 5°C, so I decided to mount it upside down with the resistors on the bottom and the thermocouple on the top.
It works very well, and the objects stay flat. The first multi-part build I did though failed after the first few layers.
The extruder jammed because the top of the thermal insulator got hot enough to allow the PLA filament to go soft before the entrance. The extruder was finding PLA very hard to push anyway and the maximum speed I could get was about 24mm/s of 0.5mm filament. This is because the thermal transition zone is too long. The extra heat rising from the bed must have pushed it over the edge, literally!
The insulator is a combination of PTFE for slipperiness and PEEK for strength, but I think PEEK conducts too much heat. It doesn't help that my heater is not insulated yet and the Mendel carriage traps any rising heat.
I am quite happy with with Wade's drive mechanism but decided it was time to try another hot end design, coming soon ...
I think that for PLA, Dibond and blue tape / Kapton is a good solution. It won't handle the temperatures for ABS on Kapton though, but it might be good for ABS on PMMA or PC.