I'm tired of trying to tram a warped bed.

I’m tired of trying to tram a warped bed.

After realizing just how terribly warped the bed is in my Tronxy X5S, I’m looking at cast aluminum to replace it. Does anyone here have experience with something like 13"x13" (330mm x 330mm) cast aluminum to give evidence-based advice on thickness? Is 1/4" (6.35mm) thick enough for that size? It seems it would be good for lower thermal mass and quicker heating/cooling. Otherwise, thicker perhaps 3/8" (9.525mm) for more stability? My plan would be to order 13.25" x 13.25" and mount it with one screw in the back and two in the front for proper three-point tramming instead of the weird six-point system that the printer came with.

Weight is not a factor; I’m not worried about the lead screws being able to move it, and I’m going to use single-start screws as soon as I cut them to size so there will be way more torque than I could possibly need.

I do indeed. Had many pieces of MIC6 cut and printed with. If you have the bed where there is even force across it, you shouldn’t have any issues with 1/4in. I have a 3/8in plate for a delta and it takes over half an hour to cool down. I would just go with the 1/4 in.

@Griffin_Paquette Thank you!

I suppose I could mount a spare fan blowing at the bottom to cool it down more quickly between prints, too. Then I wouldn’t feel like I need to switch between sheets of glass, maybe…

Have you considered using a piece of glass? It’s cheap and easy to use.

@Kevin_Danger_Powers I have glass. Four pieces of it. A it’s not perfectly flat itself and B it bends over the warped bed. With glass clamped to the bed, it’s still over 0.5mm off flat, which really sucks when you are trying to print .3 or .35 mm initial layers!

Until I realized how badly warped the bed was, I was going to buy mirror to replace the window glass because it is supposed to be flatter and 3mm mirror should be stronger than 2.5mm window glass. But now I realize that would be a waste of time and money. I do that enough already without adding to the problem.

If I get MIC6/ATP5 I can always put mirror or glass over it for easy removal when I want, but I should no longer be compensating for warp in doing so.

https://www.midweststeelsupply.com/store/castaluminumplateatp5 looks like a good option. Shipping goes up by only about $1 if I also buy a 8.75" x 10.75" plate for my 220mm x 270 mm hictop i3 clone, which is also not perfectly flat. Hmm.

ATP-5 vs. MIC-6:

  • Brinell: 70 vs. 65
  • Yield: 18 vs. 15 ksi
  • Tensile: 41 vs. 24
  • Thermal conductivity: 81 vs. 82 btu/ft² hr⁰F

So ATP-5 should be stiffer (tensile strength), harder (against wear), and thermal conductivity close enough that I couldn’t possibly notice the difference. ATP-5 it is.

Now I just need to decide how to heat it.

I guess the available options are to buy a 300mm x 300mm silicone heating pad, where it’s probably more efficient to use an SSR and 120V than to keep using my 24V power supply, or to cut back the slightly bulging middle of my existing bed and thermally bond it to the cast plate. (Thermal paste?)

Any other options?

@mcdanlj no problem! By far my favorite material to print on.

For your "glass"problem… dont use just glass, glass isnt glass.
U can buy glass thats very plane, also there is glass that u can heat without deforming himself and also dont use glass thats thinner than 4mm because it would bend in some cases… If ur heatbed isnt plane(mine isnt) and u use to strong clamps ur glass will bend, i had this problem, Weak clamps are better and it dont need much strength to hold ur glass in position.

The best for glass in my eyes is a soft thermalpad (watch for max temp also not to thick max 1mm) between heatbed and atleast 3mm better 4mm thick Borolsitglass (u should see maximum thickness difference in the description, if not ask for it)
Then buy clamps that only apply some pressure if u clamp ur skin and it hurts its way too strong.
Then ur bed gives the heat and the glass gives the plane surface. mark the position of ur clamps on the glassplate also use always the same clamps on the same spot, u wont find clamps that have all the same pressure unless u buy thousands and search for them😁 I use 4clamps not more not less close to the edges, two on the same side in one line with the two on the other side. If u do this u will minimise zeroing and deformed heatbed problems.

I dont even use the thermal pad, i wanted first but then i tryed and only bend my clamps so the dont have much pressure anymore. 0.05mm difference now, at all 4edges, from edge to edge and from edge to the middle.
With the pad im pretty sure it would be less but its fine for me.

Negativ point u need a minute more to heat i up with the pad i think.
Hope that could help u a bit. But rly dont underestimate to strong clamps. Its a curse😂

@mcdanlj no thermal paste, its dirty shit. Thermal pads or something like that, nearly same effect and way cleaner to work with.

For faster cooling/restart for printing i would use on top of ur “perfect plane” surface a very thin glass1-2mm , i would go for 2mm because stability, but it would need a bit longer to heat up.
Clamp it soft to ur buildplate.
Buy two glassplate of the same thickness, mesure the thickness after buying/zero both plates an look for the difference, mark them(position and everything so u always put them in like u did before). Then u can switch ur buildplate very fast with no problem, only need to set ur offset for the right plate if there is a difference, and wait 2min so ur thin glass is on temp.

If u have a moving bed in x/y i would not recomend it if u use a thick glassplate like me as a plane surface to print on and add another thin one. To much weight in my eyes. Then ur heatbed have to be plane enough that u could directly use a thin glassplate.
And like said in the other comment, use good glas like borolsit or something like that.

I got the atp5 from Midwest steel supply, it’s good stuff. One note, they don’t package it very well, maybe you can request they wrap it in thick cardboard.
I will never use glass again. It’s flatter and heats more evenly.

@Stephanie_A yeah thats why i let my heatbed heat up and wait 5min after it reached my wanted temp. I love glass, but i can totaly understand using that stuff when u wanna save some minutes.

@Stephanie_A Decades ago, I drove past their location more times than I can count. Now I can’t take the “pick up” option any more. So I’ll take the hint!

6mm (around 0.25”) cast aluminium works well as a build plate on my printer, size is 310x310mm. 360W, 230V silicon heater with SSR. On top I use a 3mm thick 30x30cm mirror tile. Printer is gantey style so bed is not moving.

@Daniel_F why mirror on top of the aluminium? Quick switch? Glossy surface? I’ve been thinking of surfacing the aluminium with kaptan for gloss and higher thermal conductivity than a glass sheet. I guess I could add a glass or mirror plate when I want gloss, and just add Z offset for it when slicing. So I don’t really have to choose…

You can remove it to coat with whatever you need for the filament you are printing to stick. Kapton, glue stick, etc. I use 3d lac, it’s rebranded hairspray, abs and asa-x sticks well to it and the part pops off when it cooles down. The mirror tile is cheap, easily available and flat. It adds some time to heat up as glass doesn’t have good thermal conductivity. You can also remove the glass to clean it.

Yeah, I use glass now, primarily with hair spray, also kaptan and pva glue. Was curious which reasons mattered to you, that’s all.

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of printing on PEI or kaptan on the aluminum with an option to add mirror for other surfaces, depending on which plastic I’m using.

Really interesting design at https://drmrehorst.blogspot.com/2017/07/ultra-megamax-dominator-3d-printer-bed.html