Friday, 2 March 2018

Magnetic Print Bed Surface on a Budget

Mega Kossel with magnetic build plate
     When I rebuilt my Mini Kossel into the Mega Kossel last August, I installed upgraded rod-arms that allow for a maximum build diameter of 250mm (9.84 in), and I've been using a 190mm (7.5 in) piece of glass topped with Buildtak as my bed for the past 6 months, so I've really been using only 58% of my theoretical build diameter. I'd looked at upgrading the bed surface with the Buildtak Flexplate system in the past, but the only circular option currently available is a 300mm (12 in) set, far to large for my frame and 220mm heat-bed. Thus, I started looking at options for building my own custom version.

10-inch pizza lifter from the local dollar store
     Concept wise, the Flexplate system is fairly straightforward, an adhesive sheet with magnets in it that sticks to the printer's heat-bed or build plate, topped with a spring steel sheet with some Buildtak material on one side. For my version, I'm using some steel pizza lifters that I found at the local dollar store in the cooking supplies section of all things, $4 each and a bit of drilling to remove the riveted-on handle and I've got some fairly flat surface plates.

Adhesive backed magnets assortment from Lee Valley Tools
     For the magnetic part of things, I'm using some 6mm rare-earth magnets that I salvaged from an old toy building set that I had floating around, but Lee Valley sells some 1/4" ones that are a fairly close match. 

Bed mounting bracket with magnets installed
Other side of bed mount with magnets
I've designed a variation of the mounting brackets for my heat-bed that puts 36 of them in a ring around the entire bed, massive overkill when it comes to this type of magnet but having the bed surface start drifting loose is the last thing you want on a 3D printer of any type.

Corner brackets waiting for magnets
Brackets mounted on Mega Kossel
     After printing the brackets, I used some 5-minute epoxy to fix the magnets in place, I've found that it does an excellent job of holding parts to PLA prints under most conditions.

Magnetic bed fully installed on the Mega Kossel
     I've been using this bed configuration for the past 2 weeks already and it works quite well. This particular implementation is specific to the Mega Kossel, but if I was going to install something like this on an i3 style machine, I'd make custom brackets that put the magnets in a line along the front and back edges of the bed, then use a slightly oversize sheet of steel for the bed topping plate.
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