Is a heated bed really necessary?

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I've almost got enough to get the printer i want, i'll be able to purchase it in February. The printer is a Reprap Prusa i3 that has a print volume of 220220240MM.

One of the first things i intend to print is a 3d printer that is larger than the one i'm getting,Possibly of the same design, but i want this one to have a build volume of 500mm Cubed. I havent seen any printers with a heated bed that size so the question is, Do i really need a heated bed? what are the advantages and disadvantages to opting out of it?

Side Note: if your answer is "Google it" Don't bother responding, because if google could answer my question, i wouldn't be asking experts now would i?

YOu don tneed a heated bed for PLA only ABS in my experience

to be honest with you , yes you need a heated bed as its really necessary for printing as any material like pla , abs or other one like pc they request a heated bed , why heated bed ? because any plastic does shrink if not cooled properly and that will messed your time if you does print large scale with small printer and u will do it again and again ,plastic or pla or any soft materials like that , i have been using 3d printer for 2 years and heated bed and nuzzle is very very important as if the heated bed and the nuzzle dont much the temperature of cooling you printed model then things will get messy ,if you want to get large 3d printer things have a price and its expensive , its need special care , i recommend you do a wood box for it , hardware outside of the box and get a customized silicone bed as it use high voltage and low amps(mean it wont cost you bills like the low voltage and high amps one ) get aluminium bed and stick it under it and buy some heat isolation and place it under it like i did with mine and like this you will get the best 3d printer.

NOTE: heated bed the big one have direct plug for the power supply so you can adjust the temperature manual or if you good with electronics you can connect the relay trigger with your 3d printer to set auto temperature based on the g code

It's really a good idea to get one. Helps keep your design from warping while being printed. If you need a suggestion, I get mine from 3Dheatedbed on ebay. Great seller with many different sizes and configurations.

I'd get one. Though, if you are building a large printer, like the others said, it gets very expensive- fast. On my 500x500x500 printer, a 500x500 heater is at minimum $150USD. With heated bed, you will be able to print so much more than PLA

Or, just use a W1209 and cut the hysteresis down to maybe +/-3 not the default +/-7?

simple answer is no you don't need a heated bed. ABS is the only one that benefits from a heated bed. A heated chamber assists really well with Most prints and stops a lot of "mysterious" problems. The issue relating to Banding etc from the bed heating is more related to power supply issues than anything else. Make sure you use heat sink compound on your Tip thread, thermistor, Heating element and any other areas that rely on accurate thermal readings. (makes a big difference) Also you should be running a PID setup at the temperature you print at for each type of plastic you print. I use PLA, PLA+3D, PETG, PETG+3D and ABS and have a PID setting for each one, and none of these that I print uses a heated bed. The bed is covered with Blue painters tape, then rubbed with isopropal alcohol. On thin sections and ABS I use an enclosure with Hairspray on the blue tape. In my designs you will find a Repetior Host startup gcode that shows how this could be done(PID).

Some people have said that you need a gluestick, hairspray, masking tape, etc for PLA and ABS. I find that this is not the case for PLA, as I print with BuildTak. It's stuff that you put on the bed, very durable as long as you use rounded edge spatulas and makes things stick perfectly. I have not printed with ABS on it because my printer is an XYZPrinting Da Vinci Jr. 1.0, a generally cheap printer that only takes their company's filament without modification or chip hacking. I'm working on the second one.
BuildTak: https://www.buildtak.com/

I'll throw in my two cents. I print exclusively in PLA. Aluminum bed. I put four strips of ordinary Duck brand white masking tape covering the bed, then a couple of layers of dollar store no-name glue stick which dries almost instantly. I run the bed at 55C and the extruder at 205C. Keep in mind that the thermistors on these units may be considerably out of spec -- I suspect the actual nozzle temp is a few degrees cooler than indicated at least, and the bed temp perhaps 10 degrees cooler. Works quite well for me.

One other con some people forgot to mention and I am experiencing it with a heated bed on on of my delta's is that the cycling on and off the the heated bed can interfere with your print causing Banding issues as the hot end rises.

I just removed heating elements from my printer. I'm using TESA masking tape over glass bed and it gives me more grip that I really need for printing PLA. I print very rarely in ABS (fumes and stuff, my fume extractor don't do good job and... ABS stinks, like.. smell is very unpleasant for me). You print faster without heated bed, if you print in PLA and PLA composites or PLA like materials, you just need some adhesive or something they can grip. With ABS... well it is working for me, but I would not recommend not having heater for ABS (and other ABS like/based materials), for reasons that many people pointed out already.

Advantages to heated bed:

•Easier to get PLA to stick.

•Pretty much required for printing ABS.

•Reduces warping all around.

Disadvantages to heated bed-

•Scarcity, especially for huge printers. The only heated bed of that size that I could find was http://store.quintessentialuniversalbuildingdevice.com/product.php?id_product=113 . One workaround is to tile a few smaller heated beds and heat up "zones" of it.

• Proce. Price increases a lot as the size increases. For example, the heated bed I linked is over $250. Again, tiling can be a solution.

•Electronics- not very many electronics can handle heating such a large area. Make sure your PSU (and house wiring) can handle almost a kilowatt load on one outlet. If you choose to tile, note that not very many boards/firmware will support it well. (Note that if you can control the heat individually for each tile, you can save power by only heating what you need to).

Note that with any heated bed, temperatures tend to drop off toward the edges. Make sure your heating is even if you tile.

Well... everyone seems to be indicating that the market needs a large heated-bed solution whose on/off, power-hungry needs don't create banding in the printed material itself. Since most of us are inventors rather than artists, you'd think that we'd just invent a solution. Kudos for the various solutions as suggested above but as I hear all this I'm thinking that I could create a bed for the Robo 3D C2 which is a snap-in-place replacement. I'd start with one of these...


...I'd then cut each of the coils in half, buy more diodes of the same rating that appear to be on that chassis and then drive them digitally through relays with a car battery. I think I would arrange the coils in such a way that individual coils could be running while others are off. It would be nice to favor the area under where the print head is at any moment but heat propagation occurs much more slowly—you could program this to distribute heat to where the print head will be later but that's overkill. Heating the footprint area of the object to be printed is really all that's necessary.

From what I'm reading between-the-lines, heating the bed is mostly necessary for part adhesion (but may also take a part in preventing warpage). If it's just the former, then I'm guessing that the bed only needs to be heated until the first few millimeters of the base are printed and then may be ramped down from there, right? Is there really a need to heat the bed for four hours? I doubt it.

I'm guessing that milling some cooling fins into the bottom surface of an aluminum bed top would help to distribute the heat across the surface area so that nothing turns into a hotspot. In fact, you could also install one or two fans inside to circulate the hot air in a circle and even mill some air guides into the aluminum to support that, too. (Think "convention oven".)

I'm thinking at least one K probe under the surface is required, as coupled to the control circuit which doesn't technically have to be connected at all with the printer. A single dedicated Raspberry Pi Zero W inside the bed could run this show with a web interface. Dial in the temperature and the zone(s)/coil(s) to turn on, set a timer for how long it's supposed to run, set a ramp-down curve and finally, set a notification event for when it's ready to go. A cheap version could probably be built for under $100 without the milling, methinks.

When I first started 3d printing i used ABS and i had the heated bed TOO low the prints would warp like you wouldn't believe. the heated bed is very! necessary with ABS. I also sprayed Aqua Net hairspray on it to get it to stick. I haven't had any problems since i started using the headed bed in all its capabilities. 90c works for me. I've been told PLA just sticks to a bed with no head or it would stick to a heated bed better. I am getting my first roll of PLA today! I also have the Prusia i3- its a headache to put together if you forget you have instructions! LOL

For PLA I use a glass bed and a glue stick. No heating pad. Perfect everytime if bed is level. 400x400 bed.
Best stick brand I've found is Pritt - the glue does not build up as fast as many other brands. I buy the big sticks.
Rub evenly and you can wipe with your finger as well, if there is build up or skipped section. Perfect is not required. Wait 3 minutes before initiating print. PLA melts it a little as it is extruded and sticks. If bed not levelled - PLA will not stick.

I clean bed off once a week when buildup gets too high (blobbly). No need to super clean after each print.
I crudely scrape buildup off with putty knife before each print and reapply Stick over old glue.
I have managed two months of daily printing without cleaning the glass completely.
Washes off in water when you need a complete clean.
If you want a really nice flat base then clean and apply glue on clean glass to get nice surface.
I don't recommend hairspary because the overspray builds up. Glue stick can be applied in-situ.

In the past, for me, the best surface - if not glass - is Polycarbonate. A 3mm sheet clipped onto the bed.
PLA will stick direct without glue but glue is still better as success rate tends to 100%. Do not confuse Polycarbonate with Acrylic. Entirely different plastics.

I don't do much ABS - theoretically you need heated bed for ABS but I use glue. A perforated board is ideal but as object size increases the cooling is less even and shrinkage will deform it. ABS juice (link below) seems like the right thing to me but my experience is limited.

My bed is 400mmx400mm. I can print small or massive and always sticks. I use PLA all the time - less toxic and my printer is indoors. To smooth it, I either use a heat gun, fill with plastic wood putty from h/w store and sand, or use Smooth-on XTC which is pretty nice product, spreads well, shiny surface, smoothes out ridges, can be sanded, reworked, overpainted.

I agree with pretty much everything this guy says and he has some ABS advice which seems sound to me:

jokerwild, as the plus and minus of either are reflecting on what you want. As someone who wants to off road then a 4 wheel drive would be a good choice, it's about you and your expectations, truly that simple.

The 3D printer will work with PLA on a cold bed, you may have to adjust your designs in some cases to better attach it to the build platform. The heated bed reduces adjustments, heated beds enables better attachment. I have both, a 3D printer without a heated bed a real challenge to get the right adhesion. Many bad prints were the result of it coming loose. I have since upgraded, now I use a heated bed and adhesion is much less a problem.

I will share a few tricks I have figured out. Using glue sticks works pretty well on a heated bed, does the job. Let it cool down and the part comes right off. Cold bed my best solution was printing on paper, I cut sheets to fit the bed, cut the corners off and used blue painters tape on the corners, this enabled me to attach it and get it flat. Printing PLA it stuck pretty well to the paper and this was a cheap viable solution.

Heated bed. Using the glue sticks presents it own issues as the old glue must be scrapped off, this makes a mess. I use a small portable car vacuum to clean this up and follow up with a tacky lint roller, as it becomes used up I just expose the next sheet on the roll. With a clean build plate, add the glue "Use the Glue stick" select the print, and hit the print button, no muss no fuss.

Yes the cost was more I first bought the cheapest assembled 3D printer available as I needed to test the boundaries, the next was a high end printer again testing the boundaries. Consider this; if you spent X and was unhappy, and needed to spend X+ again you would have been better off waiting and spending 2X saving you money.

My rule is get what I want, don't settle, save and wait as its far better to be happy than live with the alternative.

I'm wondering if a Silpat silicone cookie sheet liner (Williams Sonoma) would work. I've used them in cooking and have always been amazed at their temperature range. I don't know if it would be flat enough but it's got a slight grippy feel to it and is designed so that you can peel it off the cookies in the same way that BuildTak would work. The quarter-sheet version is 11-3/4" x 8-1/4", for what it's worth. I have a feeling that the silicone would do great for this.

In fact... why not just throw the Silpat into the oven on a cookie sheet and bring it up to your extrusion tip temperature (+50 degrees, say) right before the start of your print job. You'd then transport the hot Silpat over to the bed, run the z-adjustment and start the job. Since the Silpat is about the same temperature now as the hot ABS, it may then adhere nicely like this. You could do a spot-check for temperature of the Silpat, determine that it's now cooled to the extrusion tip temperature and you're ready to start the job.

Or put a pizza stone into the oven, bring it to temperature and then print directly onto that?

If you are printing in ABS I would say that is a must. PLA you might be able to get away without..

Without a heated bed its difficult to impossible to print materials with high thermal expansion coefficients, as those tend to warp, leading to deformed prints and parts getting loose from the print bed.
Personally I stick to materials that don't need a hbp (PLA, PET(G)) and I'm happy with it.

Scaling up the i3 design to 500mm is harder than you might imagine. The stronger shafts that you'd need alone would ultimately lead to a complete redesign of the whole thing.

Regarding large heated build plates, I see some problems associated:

  • power requirement: a 500 mm square print bed would have a rather high power requirement (750 Watts or so)
  • thermal expansion makes most print bed materials bulge, leading to an unlevel printing surface. with large print beds this becomes worse, requiring quite elaborate solutions

universalist you do have a good point. As I have kept my designs mostly smaller, I have had difficulty with larger parts for the reason you stated warping. Design and how you attempt to orientate it for printing effects warping. 500mm that's a good size print. A whole new learning curve is ahead of you.

Google it, jk
Prints can stick better resulting in better quality
Because prints stick better, vibrations are not as much of an issue
Can help in removing print w/o damage because it hardens forcing it off (if that matters to you)
Despite what some people say I recommend it for PLA and ABS because both LOVE to warp and ruin your 20 hour print

Any residue can be an issue
It picks up residue from glue or tape and can affect print
One more thing to worry about
Too hot and you can get prints to sink into the bed and mess up the print or get "Elephants Foot" which is a wider bottom layer, this can be an issue for parts that are put into one another
Depending on printer they have issues and some will actually STOP a print if there is an error with heater bed

And I also wish you good luck on your endeavor of building your 3D printer out of a 3D printer!

The only times that I have ever seen a heated bed on a 3d printer is if the printer is using ABS plastic. PLA doesn't need a heated bed and choosing which plastic you want to print with depends on if you need a heated bed or not. Also if you are building one and are wanting to print both then get the bed to have a switch to enable or disable the heated bed (weather printing ABS or PLA) because PLA has some trouble sticking to the heated bed.

After struggling with several different methods (blue tape, sailcloth tape, kapton tape, animal sacrifice during a full moon, etc) the best I've found for me personally to get PLA to stick is to print on glass with a heated bed and either glue stick or a glue slurry. Depending on the part, the glue may be optional if you have a heated bed. Without glue, if you can get the part to stick, it will have a very nice finish on the printed side when it's complete. Yes, you can get away with printing PLA on a non-heated surface. You will definitely need either tape or a coating of some kind. Tape is a PITA in my opinion. If your bed is MDF, the continual use of tape will eventually wreck the surface.

Most controllers can handle a heated bed. You do not need a switch. You just turn off the bed in your slicing program.

I've got Thingomatic and RepRap in the past. Now I own Replicator 1st generation. All of them are with heated bed.
Main advantage that you can print with all plastics for different targets. You know some things better work when they are made with ABS.
I know several guys who bought printers without heated bed and now they dream about upgrade, because PLA is not enough for all needs.

It is a must for abs and similar materials. I also believe enclosure to have even heat inside printer is next in row.

But another materials like flexible need very good ventilation and heated bed is not necessary.

If you want to print PLA directly onto glass, you need a heated bed. PLA only sticks to hot glass, not cold glass. If you're printing onto tape, you don't need a heated bed, but it doesn't hurt either.

If you want to print ABS, you probably need a heatbed for it to stick to anything at all reliably. Enclosures are good too. ABS warps a lot from thermal stress.

I print on glass all the time without a heated bed. For PLA, use a slurry of glue+water. Or use a glue stick. Works great.

Though I prefer a heated bed with glass.

There are some who claim they can print ABS on a non-heated bed. Adafruit offers a bed material that might work with cold ABS: https://www.adafruit.com/products/2233

And there's a chemical called "Wolfbite" developed by Airwolf that will enhance adhesion: http://airwolf3d.com/shop/wolfbite-prevents-3d-printed-parts-from-warping

I meant straight glass, not glass and glue. Fair enough.

ahh...true that. Though some claim that basalt glass can hold a print without being heated. I doubt it.

Thank you! Direct answer! LMAO i'll keep that in mind when making my printer

Jokerwild, I have been working with chemist for last 3 months and I am please to say I am less then a month to product lunch, for last two months I and a selective group has been printing all matters of martial including ABS,Proto pasta poly carbonate, and many more filament with out the use of a headed bed with out warping on nothing more then a regular glass build plate, with my special blend . So my short answer is not anymore a headed bed will be a thing of the past ! If you or anyone one is interested in knowing more Please feel free to email me. I will answer any questions.

A heated bed is not necessary for PLA. But, pretty much everything else will need a heated bed. The main purpose for a heated bed is to keep the part in place while it's printing. There are many other methods for doing this including blue tape or a slurry application (I use a slurry made from Elmer's glue and water). This works great with PLA as PLA printing is relatively low temperature.

For other materials, you want to maintain a high temperature at the base. Otherwise, it will cool and shrink. This usually results in the part lifting off the bed. At a minimum, this will prevent you from getting a flat surface on the printed side. Or, the part will come completely off the bed. The printer won't realize this and will keep printing. Plastic will eventually collect around the hot end, encasing it in plastic. For some hot ends like the Ubis and anUbis, this will ruin them as the plastic will make its way under the insulating sleeve.

Ask me how I know ;)

Worst case, I've heard of this causing fires.

So yeah, a heated bed is pretty useful. To get that build area, you can combine two heated beds. You will probably want to connect them to their own power source though.

For that build volume, your biggest nemesis will be shrinkage in the part. You will want to print in an enclosed area where the temps are kept high and there is no airflow.

I can't print any large ABS job without a heated bed. ABS just doesn't adhere well to cold surfaces.

If you're going the PLA route, then it's probably a non-issue. You'll be fine without a heated bed.

I have been working with chemist for last 3 months and I am please to say I am less then a month to product lunch, for last two months I and a selective group has been printing all matters of martial including ABS,Proto pasta poly carbonate, and many more filament with out the use of a headed bed with out warping on nothing more then a regular glass build plate, with my special blend . So my short answer is not anymore a headed bed will be a thing of the past ! If you or anyone one is interested in knowing more Please feel free to email me. I will answer any questions.

if i'm not mistaken, PLA is the stiffest filament, where as ABS is directly beneath it Followed by Nylon, do you have any information on how hot printed PLA has to get before it Melts again? I aim to make my own extruders if the need should arise, but i Don't want to use something that will melt and ruin my project.

PLA gets saggy at hot-coffee temperatures, not ideal.

ok then let me rephrase the question, if i wanted to print an extruder, what would be the best material to use?

clarify "extruder" vs "hot-end". I'm guessing by "extruder" you are referring to the extruder housing. There are many extruder housings on Thingiverse that work well. For all-metal hotends such as J-heads, E3D Lite6, V6, etc, the top of the hot-end remains cool - room temperature or cooler due to the cooling fan. For that application, a PLA printed extruder housing is fine.

Other hot-ends may produce too much heat at the top. Ubis and anUbis hot ends produce a lot of heat at the top. Any PLA extruder housing I've used with those hot-ends ultimately ends up warping and deforming over time.

For my direct extruder housing, I broke down and bought a metal Makrbot-style extruder housing and that has eliminated a lot of problems.

i don't mean the piece that actually melts the plastic, i'm talking about the piece that funnels the melted plastic into position.

The extruder doesn't generally need special heat resistance. The hotend will either have a heatbreak or an insulator which will keep it safe: http://burningsmell.org/images/heatbreak.png

It's not unheard of for the motors to get hot enough to warp PLA if you're not careful, however!

that's a really good point. Here's an image of the extruder housing I linked below.


It may not be obvious, but it is warped to the point that it was no longer usable. When that happens, you're screwed unless you have printed a backup.

so, if you print your own extruder housing, print a backup :)

That's what I thought :)
This is an example of a direct printed extruder housing:


[V8.0] One/Two-Up Extruder with lever and adjustable tension (E3D support!)

good, that's what i'm looking for, i'll probably print mine in something that can withstand a higher temperature though lol

Like I said, it depends on the hot end you're using. J-head style hot ends do not get hot at the top where the extruder housing holds it.

Still, it's best to print that using ABS.
I gave up printing extruder housings for direct drive and went with this: http://z0qtmgiq6l41973z10dw0c5j3.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/alum-extruder-close.png

Much more practical and allows easy access when (not if) you need to clear filament from the extruder

That said, the Prusia i3 guys have been getting along for ages with their geared drive/housing:


I use a e3d v6 and I print poly carbonate @ 285C and I have a e3d chimera both on Prusa I3's all of my Prusa parts including extruders are made from PLA, well over a year later and I still haven't seen any sign of them melting. the pla cooling fans which are only a few mm away for the hotend are made with t-glace and those also have not shown sign of deformation.

well easy access would be a plus, i just don't weant to have to worry about my extruder shell melting, but i also don't want to pay a fortune

Look Jokerwild, there is no sense in going to deep about this! make or get your extruder in PLA and be done with it. I assure you. it will be fine.

Next to my controller (Smoothiboard), that extruder drive was the second most expensive component on my printer and it's worth every penny of the $40 I spent on it :)

An extruder would be made of metal or any conductive material that can be heated up to 190 degrees.

The side of the box that the filament comes in will have recommended temperature ranges and you'll want to experiment in increments of plus/minus 5 degrees until you find one that works for your printer/environment. PLA ballparks around 190 and 200-ish whereas ABS will be in the 220-230 degree realm.

so if i wanted to print an extruder that could handle 300 degrees Fahrenheit, what would you recommend?

OMG this Question is driving me nuts LMAO, anyway you look at it, the actual part that melts the filament( heat block) will not be near anything that could melt. the closest thing will be a fan duct or a radial blower.

The extruder only has to be as hot as is needed to extrude filament and not clog.
This will be different for different filaments, and for same filament but different brand, and for different colours. The difference is caused by the different additives added. You ned to experiment with each new reel and fine tune by a few degrees. Personally never been below 185 for PLA - jams.

Clear PLA is ideal at about 190C (Aside - use a thermocouple not a thermister. Thermister is not an absolute reference temp, not as accurate). The ideal printing temp is the lowest one that will guarantee a non clog because its too cold.
Two main reasons support this:

  1. Any material if "very" hot will shrink as it cools and this will deform your part, or delaminate, or pull away from bed. Do not underestimate the effect. Extrude at lowest temp possible.

  2. The newly extruded material needs to bond to the existing material. Materials like PLA re-melt easily and you get a good bond. Some materials need more heat to re-melt the previous layer and bond. Alas solution is to slow print head(heat leaks from head to pre-melt existing), not to increase temp. This means slower print but adhesion is good as new layer is well bonded to previous layer. Some people don't like that and want it to be different - too bad. Physics! Going really hot and really fast will result in deformed, delaminated, less precisely dimensioned, object

  3. Leaking - maybe important depending on extruder design but if its too hot it will leak as flow is high. A retract can be done before every move but slows down print and is not ideal anyway. Extruder has to be well designed and tested by lots of use. Its actually very difficult balance to get this right for different materials, you need thermal breaks in the feed path and all kinds of design elements need to be solved. Look at failure of last Makerbot smart extruder thing for example of company that should have known better.

Can't think of a material that needs 300C. Remember, higher temp than material needs, means shrinkage as it cools. No escaping this.

I print my extruders in PLA.