Printrbot Simple Metal Heatbed Mod

by in_the_garage, published

Printrbot Simple Metal Heatbed Mod by in_the_garage May 13, 2014
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I've moved over to YouMagine.com All updates on this design can be found here: https://www.youmagine.com/designs/edit-thing-printrbot-simple-metal-heatbed Thanks.

Designed with a heated platform that matches the maximum build platform and is thermally insulated from the rest of the bot. You can easily reach a max temp of 115- 120C in a few minutes with this design for optimal large part ABS prints.

The stock Printrbot Metal Simple is a fantastic little printer with an exceptional degree of accuracy for its price, I really wouldn't change a thing about it. Recently I had to print a few large flat designs and wanted to try attaching a heat bed to get them perfectly flat.

Print four of these brackets and attach the 6X6 aluminum print bed heatbed and thermistor from http://printrbot.com/ BOM and other details in the instructions.

The ideology of mounting the heat bed on a raised platform design posted here is that you are able to insulate the moving parts from heat, use less power and reach a higher maximum temperature. Your Printrbot Simple Metal can print PLA super flat, and experiment other filaments like ABS and Nylon. If you plan to print with high temperature filaments, I recommend printing these parts in ABS for long term durability.

  • WARNING - You must replace the laptop style power source and add your own 12 volt power source with enough amps to run the heated print surface. An ATX power supply that you would find in an old PC tower is a really good option. More details in the instructions.



  • 2 each of the provided stl files
    • 4 small binder clips 20mm wide
  • 4 3mm bolts ~10mm long and nuts
  • printrbot aluminum print bed 6x6 from http://printrbot.com/shop/printrbot-aluminum-6x6-build-platform/,
  • thermistor with cable http://printrbot.com/shop/thermistor-with-cable/
  • ATX power supply or other 12 volt source capable of running the higher draw of a heat bed. You will need to hack this by re wiring some connectors to make what printrbot calls a "Y" adapter using some of the existing connectors attached to the ATX power supply with a bit of soldering. Here are some directions that should help you rig one up (you will have to make the Y adapter part with the existing connectors that comes with the ATX power supply and jump the green wire so the box will power up) http://help.printrbot.com/Guide/Power+Supply+Cabling/16 Also,this video shows you pretty clearly what the connection looks like and how to rig up a Y adapter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqF0m7xMMms
  • Finally you might want some cable wrap to keep the heat bed and thermistor wires neat and tidy.
    Assemble as shown in photo, mounting holes in STL file are tight but allow for better self tapping into the plastic. Alternately they could be drilled out a little.
    Because of the aluminum heat bed from printrbot you probably won't need to make any changes to your z sensor, so you can easily add or remove the bed without major issues. Remember to do all of your z height calibration with the heat bed at temperature.
    I have included a PDF file that shows you where to plug in the heat bed, thermistor cable, and power supply.
    Finally, you will want to send the following code to your machine M211 X150 Y150 Z140 to compensate for the decrease in Z travel because of the heat bed thickness then M500 to save and M501 to check your work.

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Printrbot doesn't sell the heated bed upgrade kit anymore, anyone know of alternative sources?

Is this mainly just a different way to get the same result as the heated bed upgrade they sell for $99? Or is there something different here that I am missing? They include a heat insulator pad with the bed now which should allow higher temps, but I'm not sure it's supposed to get up to 115C as sold.

Essentially it will do the same thing. The biggest difference is that this version is easily removable but takes away from the Z-height. The Printrbot version replaces the bent metal bed and puts a super flat Mic 6 heated bed in it's place. With the insulator kit I've been able to get the bed to around 100C. That is 20C more than it is advertised. No where on the site does it rate the bed to heat to 115C. It is rated at 80C max temp which I've been able to print ABS etc without needed over 100C.

You're exactly right - this design is just another way of getting a heat bed attached that is removable. I made this design before there was an option to buy the heated bed upgrade with parts anyone could easily buy and assemble. Both designs work, the one here will cost you some Z height.

I would really like to do this mod to my simple metal, but I am having trouble finding the aluminum heat bed that is used. Is there any chance you could leave me a link to where I can purchase one?

you can get them from printrbot.com

Great design and idea! I just got a metal simple last week and had one of these older aluminum beds and a power supply laying aroundso I thought I'd give it a try. Quick question for you or anyone here who may have an answer: when you clamp on the bed, do you end up sacrificing about 10 mm of x axis travel to make the z probe sense the new heated bed? I'm finding that this is the case and was wondering if someone has a way around this or if I'm goofing something up. Thanks!

Thanks for the plans! It's working great for me.
I just published a wire strain relief for this bed at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:385797http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... after I had some wires break.

Wire Strain Relief for Printrbot Simple Metal Heat Bed Modification
by nedkonz

I just installed my heatbed but during the self-levelling calibration (G29), the z-height sensor falls outside of the aluminium heatbed when it does it's last probe on the right. My M212 is set at X0 Y0 Z... and M211 at X150 Y150 Z... Have you changed any of those so the probe falls over the heatbed when it calibrates?

Hi Mike, Great question. The M212 should be the same as when you print without the heated aluminum plate. The thing to adjust is the exact location of the plate when you clip it down. I have it set up so the last place the probe goes down is right between the screw head and one of the machined holes, it reads the bed no problem. I know when I first installed it it took a few min to make sure it is exactly in the right place. Give that a shot, you should have no problem getting the probe to read on the heated plate.

What are you using for firmware on your Metal Simple? I've tried both the V3 and the new Simple Firmware.hex from June 5th - and it won't control the heat in either case. I'm getting a thermistor reading that makes sense - and it's getting nice and warm - however, it just ignores the set point and keeps heating. I also can't turn it off.

Hi t3sk3y, I'm using the firmware that came with the bot in March. I just set up the Slic3r settings under filament settings and was good to go.

Newest version worked pretty well for me. Clearance for the screws was too tight and I had to bore out the holes with an 1/8" drill bit, but the captive nut fit very nicely. I am getting great results with PLA at 65C bed temp. First layer is really smooth and no warping at all on large prints.
Thanks for sharing!

Glad to hear the latest version is working for you! I just updated the file so the holes are now ~ 2.8mm in diameter so the fit will still be tight but you shouldn't need to drill the holes out. Hope that helps.

Thanks for the design, looking forward to getting the parts and trying it out. Do you have a link to the 12V power supply you have pictured? I prefer that type of power supply over ATX to minimize the amount of wire clutter. Thanks in advance!

I just uploaded an updated file with some of the below suggested changes - feedback encouraged - Thanks everyone!

Built them got the parts, I would like to see the attachment areas closer to the edges of the steel build plate. The binder clips just barley clamp things down.

Hi Bdnewman, thanks for the comment. I'm actually going to update the part with a little more wiggle room, the clips are more than secure to print, but I know what you mean more material would be better. I am also going to make more clearance for the captive nut underneath. I'll try to update shortly.

How are you attaching the PCB to the underside of the bed? Also, what kind of insulation are you using? Thanks for the design. - Nathan

Hi Nathan, great question. The heat bed is attached with recessed 3mm screws that come drilled pre tapped into the Printrbot aluminum plate shown in the photo. Printrbot provides all the parts with the plate as a kit and includes the screws. I am using metalized duct insulation like this http://www.homedepot.com/p/Master-Flow-6-in-Diameter-R-6-Ductwork-Insulation-Sleeve-INSLV6/100396953http://www.homedepot.com/p/Mas... under the heat bed - it seems to keep the temp more consistent.

This is great but, can you provide a little more detail? smoothmove was asking what's holding the PCB up against the aluminum bed. I think you answered how the aluminum bed is attached to the printed pieces. I would like to know how the PCB is attached to the aluminum bed as well as I don't see any screws popping out of the inner holes in the bed.

Hey Bleeps, happy to share a little more information. Basically there are tapped holes for the heat bed from the underside of the aluminum plate. If you want a great picture have a look at the assembly instructions for the printrbot junior v2 (it uses the same parts). Step 60 shows how the heat bed is attached to the aluminum plate and step 59 show a few other helpful details. http://help.printrbot.com/Guide/How+to+Assemble+the+Printrbot+Jr+%28v2%29/57http://help.printrbot.com/Guid... Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions.

Yes, that does help! Thank you. I kept looking for a heated bed-specific guide on the PB site and couldn't find one.
One more question, are you printing PLA on bare kapton?

Hi Bleeps, I print with bare Kapton at around 65C just make sure you keep it clean with no finger smudges or dirt. There is lots of information and discussion about heated surfaces , extrusion temp and PLA on http://www.printrbottalk.comwww.printrbottalk.com which is where I got my settings. Hope that helps!

I just updated this file with a few tweaks including space for a captured nut underneath. The fit should be nice and tight. Let me know how it works on your printer and I will make adjustments as needed.

This is great! Thanks for sharing.

HI Cam,
Is this a thermistor + the "Printrbot Aluminum 6×6 Build Platform" AND a 6x6 heated bed, or does the 6X6 build platform already have the heating function built in? Trying to figure out if I need to buy both from Printrbot to make this happen....

Hi girlontherocks, great question. You need to buy all three parts: thermistor (records temp for the printrboard), 6X6 aluminum build platform (very flat machined piece of aluminum that fits perfectly with the heat bed) and the 6X6 heated bed (a circuit board that will be your heat source). Parts can be sourced elsewhere too, but the nice thing about the links I reference is that everything fits together and connects to the printrbot pretty much plug and play. Hope that helps!

Cam, Any reason you didn't just put the heatbed straight on top of the original aluminium table? If it made the magnetic detector misbehave, wouldn't it work correctly if the heatbed was rather bolted underneath the table?

Hi Mike,
I took a closer look today, it is possible to just binder clip the heated bed under the stock Printrbot Metal Bed. You can also mount the printrbot aluminum heat bed plate directly to the stock bed. I would only use the direct method to heat the print surface for PLA temp only (I worry about the plastic ?delrin? smooth rod mounts) but it should work. The setup I have posted here is a little more complex but offers more flexibility in terms of printing materials with insulation and buffer space. I am having a lot of success with the setup I have posted here as it is super reliable.

Hi Mike, thanks for the comment. My thinking was that direct contact would cause the aluminum table to warp too much. Direct contact also means the PCB will be constanly trying to heat up more metal which may be an issue to maintain a constant temperature. The mod I made raises up the bed enough to keep all other parts cool, of course you do loose a small amount of Z height. For tall PLA prints I just remove the heat bed if I need a few extra mm. I only really need the heated bed for large flat solid prints - using binder clips means it is easily removable. When I use this in the classroom I remove the heat bed and just use the painters tape and smaller power source for portability. I like the simplicity and speed in which the stock machine prints making the process more accessible for students.