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New Stainless Steel Beds in the I2P Lab

Zach Ellis working on the new stainless steel printing beds. Photo by: Hillary Lorsch

The most interesting part about working in a maker-space is the people around you are inventors in their own way. A lot of the products in the Idea2Product lab have either been modified or created by one of our staff members or users. Most recently, Zach Ellis, Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering student and I2P staff member, has been working to find the perfect printing bed for the labs LulBot TAZ printers. The TAZ’s come with glass beds and the lab would cover them with plastic to help prints to stick because most filaments won’t stick to glass well. The beds would need to be re-laminated all the time. “Often enough it became annoying and expensive,” said Will Van Noordt, 3D staff member.

New steel bed being printed on. Photo by: Hillary Lorsch

The lab had been trying other things like thin aluminum, which didn’t work well because it would warp. “You can use thin aluminum on small printers like an Afinia 3D printer but, once it gets too big it warps too much,” Ellis explained. The best option Ellis has found for a printing bed is stainless steel. It isn’t reactive so filament won’t stick too bad and if you cover the steel with a pit of glue stick, the prints stick really well. The staff has been watching with every print how long their project takes, the temperature, and then take a flatness rating with an algorithm Van Noordt created. “The steel beds are actually getting flatter and I’m not sure how it’s doing that,” Ellis said. Once the beds are cut to the needed size, a heater is glued on the bottom and it is placed in the printer. After 150 hours of print time, Ellis checks the flatness and that’s when he is able to give a good rating and then hopefully it would be enough to change all of the TAZ beds. The I2P staff works as hard as they can to make sure users experiences are the best they can be.