Acrylic plattform upgrade for the Replicator

by Eureka, published

Acrylic plattform upgrade for the Replicator by Eureka Oct 8, 2012
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This is a very simple print, consisting of one distance for the Z-endstop, and four clamps to hold a 3 mm thick acrylic sheet onto your Replicator plattform, just like on the Replicator 2!

The benefit of PLA printing on an acrylic surface is that it bonds better to it, then to painters tape. This will reduce the risc of curling and warping considerably. Also, since the acrylic sheet ment to be used with this clamps is only 3 mm thick, after the print is done, you remove the sheet and gently bend it in different direction to loosen the print from the surface. That should make it easy to snap it off with your fingers.

Also, if you happen to run the extruders into the plattform, a acrylic sheet is much cheaper to replace then the aluminium platform.

Further more, since temperature and distance between nozzle and acrylic sheet matters, with this mod, you can actually get more control over how hard the part is bonded to the buildplate! That means for instance that you can print supported structures without a raft ( just reduce the space between the nozzle and buildplate alittle ) and the supportstructure still wont fall over.

Also, you cant control thoose really stubborn prints that never seem to stop curling. Just close the gap even further, and it will bond like nothing else.



Observe that an acrylic base is only good for PLA prints. If you print the four sheet clamps in PLA, these will melt if the plattform is hot, so change that "M109 S110" code in your program to "M109 S0". Since PLA rarely need any heated buildplate at all, this will probely not matter to anyone using PLA. Also, not all acrylic sheets are the same, so any acrylic sheet wont do. I have bought acrylic sheets that doesnt work at all, everything got welded to it permanently. Other acrylic sheets that works like they where magic! So you need to try different brands and sources. I currently use one called "Perspex" but i cant guarantee that all acrylic sheets called "Perspex" are the same, so it is up to you to find the source of acrylic that works for you.

In order to make room for the 3 mm acrylic sheet, you need to use the long piece and push it down on the wooden edge that makes contact with the Z-endstop when the machine goes to home axis. Look at the first picture and you will see the distance piece in place next to the Z-screw. Make sure it has a tight fit so they wont come loose by vibrations. You should also trim all surfaces on these printed parts, so the are without obstructions, smooth and wont catch on something. It is also a good idea to sand down the edges of the acrylic sheet alittle, to make it easier to push on the four clamps to hold it in place.

As for the position of the four clamps, you can put them anywhere they fit, but be careful not to put them in a place where the nozzles can collide with them, otherwise you might damage your machine. My recommendation is at positions 3 o'clock, 5 o'clock, 9 o'clock and 11 o'clock. If you find the nuts underneath the platform being in the way, just choose the closest place. This should probably work most of the time, but keep in mind, the location of these clamps depends on how the extruders will move during the print.

Finally, give the nozzle some extra room over the platform, extruding too close to the acrylic will fuse the PLA into the acryllic and it wont come out again. Like ever. Start at twice the distance you normally have, and the tighten carefully between each attempted print to find the sweet spot. And as always, make sure your platform surface is properly degreased!

When your unwarped, uncurled, beutiful print is done, just remove the acrylic sheet, bend it genlty in different directions until you hear cracking noises, and just snap off the print with your fingers.

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We have been printing ABS on to a pespex sheet for weeks, and it works great.. The grip is phenomenal. So when doing tall, high prints we use Perspex, wide flat things we use kapton tape and ABS slurry. So we are happy printers..

Would unplugging the HBP be a reasonable safeguard against forgetting to turn the heat off?

..Because if so, maybe we could figure out a way to clamp the acrylic to the hbp at the outlet. That way, you'll always remember to unplug it if youre clamping the acrylic on.

 Two problems with that. First, the Replicator will complain about missing a heater. I dont know how serious this is for the firmware, but better to avoid it. Secondly, the leads on the HBP is very thin and delicate. Best to have the contact in place if for no other reason the to protect these leads.

If you wish, you can change the default temperature by going into the .gcode files at ReplicatorG\replicatorg-0037\machines\replicator. Change the
M109 S110 T0
M109 S0 T0.

Good info, thanks!

By coincidence, I tried printing using PLA on Acrylic this weekend, and the prints stuck to the point where I had to cut them off. Is there a particular formulation/brand of Acrylic? Or is there some other trick?

Yes, different brands of acrylic sheets matters. Im currently using an acrylic sheet labeled "Perspex", so you could start trying that brand. However, im not sure that all "Perspex" acrylic sheets are the same, so you might need to try different sources. All i know is that some of the acrylic sheets are crap and will permenantly weld itself to your printed part. You basically have to grind it away to get it off :/ So try different brand, starting with the "Perspex" brand.

 As i wrote above, you must make the distance between the nozzle and the plattform larger the normal. I roughly have twice the distance. Being to close will couse the PLA to fuse into the acrylic sheet, and then youll never get it out. Try again, but this time, fold the Makerbot Industries buisnesscard in two so its twice as thick before you use it to calibrate the nozzle height at Z home position.

They recommended removing and bending the sheet until it pops off willingly. did you try that?

The first time the head was too close to the acrylic, so it bonded permanently (well, until I hacked it off with a knife).

The second time, (flipping the plate over) I find that the plate is curved, so it's raised in the middle, so it's either too far on the edges (so the plastic lies on top of the acrylic) and too close in the middle (so it permanently sticks).

Next time, more binder clips - perhaps if I clip all sides it'll lie flatter?

I think your acrylic sheet got extra bent because you welded PLA into it the first time. Try buying a fresh sheet, and place it so that any curve is facing down. Like a U. That way you can place clips along the edge, and it will be exactly as flat as your underlying builplate.

Good idea.

Though since then I've been printing on steel sheets with great success. They're dirt cheap (a 12x12 sheet is $3) so it's easy to keep a stack of them prepped with Kapton and Painter's Tape. I keep them under the printer, and just swap them between prints.