Saturday, September 26, 2015

3D Printing Tips: Avoid Water

Hello again!

I'm taking a quick break from the color changes posts to show you all something that I just discovered.

This is a small chip in the flat glass surface of my printer's bed. Unfortunately, this means that anything I print on this spot will not be flat, or won't adhere at all.

When you want to get lots of parts printed at once on a hot glass bed, sometimes the bed's cooldown is the longest part of the process. And, being the innovative person you are, you wet a paper towel and wipe it on the hot bed liberally after the print to help the bed cool down quicker, as a fan blows cool air over it. Then you can pop the part off and do it again.

The problem is- maybe there is a good reason that the bed is taking so long to cool down. And you don't think about that until you pop the part off, and realize with horror that your $40 glass bed has chipped... several places. (See to the right of the "Z" in "ZONE".)

Why does this happen? Putting water on glass, even heat-resistant glass, will cause it to cool quickly compared to the surrounding area. And if your part is covering a part of the bed, keeping it warm, then cooling down the surrounding area too quickly can cause the glass's surface to chip off.

(Pro tip: Use a water bottle in your shop for your water needs (soldering iron sponge, cleaning, etc.) This way you won't have to run to the tap. However, make sure that you spray paint the top of the water bottle, so you see it's not for drinking. The last thing that you need is to drink out of a water bottle that's been touching lead-filled sponges...)

Anyway, I think that I learned my lesson here- I need to be more patient. And if I'm going to cool down the bed more efficiently, I need to be a bit smarter about it.

It's this sort of trial and error that is such a powerful way of learning. So I have no regrets, only more knowledge. Stay positive!