Do I need the bed factory applied Kapton for PLA?

Need some assistance getting started...post here...
User avatar
Expresso
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:25 am
Location: Dallas, TX

Do I need the bed factory applied Kapton for PLA?

Post by Expresso » Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:36 pm

Hello,

As a noob to the 3D printer world, my plan is to stick with PLA for the foreseeable future. That said, is there a point for me to be using the factory installed Kapton tape that comes glued to the glass bed?

I ask this because I have been reading that for printing PLA the way to go is to use hairspray, painter blue tape or Elmer’s all-purpose glue sticks (hairspray being the better option) but not Kapton. The big benefits I see in doing this are:

1) If the part gets stuck to the glass I can use a spatula or something similar to pry the parts off the glass without worrying about tearing the Kapton tape.
2) Save money by not having to purchase more Kapton tape.
3) Applying Kapton tape is difficult so why do it if I don’t have to.

Assuming that the Kapton tape provides no real benefits when printing PLA, would it be ok to just flip the glass around (Kapton touching the heater) and print on the side of the glass (the bare side)?

Thanks.

User avatar
Jules
Posts: 3150
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:36 am

Re: Do I need the bed factory applied Kapton for PLA?

Post by Jules » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:09 pm

Prying the print off of the glass can tear a chunk out of the glass. It's why we use Kapton tape. :D

It's not common, but it does happen. You can apply hairspray to the top of the Kapton tape (or gluestick) if you need additional adhesion. But the Kapton is a lot cheaper to replace than buying a new glass plate, so that's why we use it.

Totally up to you though, some people prefer to work without it, and print directly on the glass.

A really good alternative is to apply a sheet of PEI to the glass plate....it's thicker than the Kapton and is not as easy to damage by prying. It also has the advantage of holding prints without needing additional hairspray or gluestick. (You will need to reset your Z-gap if you apply it though.)

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=2296

User avatar
Expresso
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:25 am
Location: Dallas, TX

Re: Do I need the bed factory applied Kapton for PLA?

Post by Expresso » Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:17 am

Thanks Jules,

PEI looks pretty good but I am not sure that I am ready to tackle the process of applying PEI to the bed at this time (seems like a difficult process). I am a complete noob and I would rather stick with the complete basics for now.

To deal with stuck parts, I currently take the bed (after it has cooled down) and place it inside the freezer for a couple of minutes and that seems to loosen up the parts enough to pop them out fairly easily. At least the relatively small parts, not sure how well this will work with bigger parts, I will find out soon enough.

Just a few more questions if you don’t mind me asking:

1) What’s your method for removing big stuck parts? Do you use a spatula even on your PEI surface?
2) Will simply flipping the bed without removing the Kapton tape work? I don’t see why not but I thought I would ask just in case I am missing something.
3) After a PLA print, I use alcohol to clean the Kapton surface (I read that this works, somewhere on the internet), is that a good practice? Also, if I switch to glass will alcohol still work or is there a better method which you know about?

Thanks.

User avatar
Jules
Posts: 3150
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:36 am

Re: Do I need the bed factory applied Kapton for PLA?

Post by Jules » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:28 am

PEI is pretty easy to apply, you just need the right tools for it. But you can work your way up to it later when you're more comfortable. ;)

1. Yep, I use a sharp metal plastic cutter to carefully pry up one corner of the print on the PEI, then work a thin spatula under the gap, breaking the seal. When you start printing larger items, they are going to stick....you need to be very careful how you remove them.
2. For PLA you could try it. I wouldn't do it at any higher bed temps.
3. Alcohol is fine to wipe it off. A drop of Dawn dish soap and water is better....removes the oils from your hands. Then a quick alcohol wipe down if you like.

:D

User avatar
willnewton
Posts: 459
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2014 8:32 pm

Re: Do I need the bed factory applied Kapton for PLA?

Post by willnewton » Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:32 pm

I have never touched the Kapton roll supplied with my M2. I am going to suggest, as I always do, that new users use blue tape for PLA.

You have a lot to absorb about learning the printer, take the variable that is bed to PLA adhesion quality and eliminate it until you have other settings figured out.

Blue tape is fairly forgiving and will give you solid feedback on how your first layer is shaping up. There is nothing easier to apply and remove. Get the widest tape you can find, at least three inches.

Use the Kapton that is already installed, once you rip it, remove it and don't look back. Blue Tape, glue stick, hairspray, PEI, etc. all work well. I bet an informal survey would show that the longer you have an M2, the less likely you are to continue with the Kapton. :)
I'm finally back to where I started two days ago!

A thread with some stuff in it I update every once in a while. viewtopic.php?f=8&t=9
See some of my stuff http://www.thingiverse.com/willnewton/about

Hugs
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:16 pm
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Do I need the bed factory applied Kapton for PLA?

Post by Hugs » Mon Jan 23, 2017 9:25 pm

Expresso wrote: [...]
2) Save money by not having to purchase more Kapton tape.
3) Applying Kapton tape is difficult so why do it if I don’t have to.
Here's something to think about on the Kapton front:

You can get 8" rolls. Don't even bother with the 2" tape that came with the printer.
An 8" x 36yd roll is about $35. 36 yards is enough to cover over 100 borosilicate plates (so $0.35 per replacement).
(yes, you can get a 10-pack of 8"x11" sheets with release liner for about $17 but that's ~5X more expensive)

WIth a roll, you can build a jig like I did with just a few pieces of scrap wood:
tape_jig.jpg
The jig was a game-changer for me. It used to take 30 minutes to do one replacement but now It only takes me just a few minutes:
tape_jig_ready.jpg
I too got really frustrated the first few times I tried with the smaller tape.

Anyway...just another perspective for you.

User avatar
NF6X
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2016 9:16 pm
Location: Riverside, CA, USA
Contact:

Re: Do I need the bed factory applied Kapton for PLA?

Post by NF6X » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:31 am

I think I need to build a couple Kapton film application jigs like that, Hugs: One for myself at home (I have an M2 dual), and one for work (we have an M3 ID). I had been using a MIC6 plate with PEI, but after a disastrous experiment with some conductive filament that stuck too well to the PEI, I decided to go back to plain old Kapton over glass and learn how to replace the Kapton when needed.

Would you mind describing how you put down the film without bubbles? I can see that you use a piece of dowel rod to stretch out the filament between the roll and the near edge of the jig, but then what do you do to smooth out the film on the glass?

Hugs
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:16 pm
Location: Pennsylvania

Re: Do I need the bed factory applied Kapton for PLA?

Post by Hugs » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:08 pm

NF6X wrote:Would you mind describing how you put down the film without bubbles? I can see that you use a piece of dowel rod to stretch out the filament between the roll and the near edge of the jig, but then what do you do to smooth out the film on the glass?
  1. The glass gets a spritz of distilled water with a few drops of dish soap.
  2. After pulling the tape to the end of the jig, the first "trick" is to let it rest for a few minutes. An 8" roll takes a bit of force to unwind and in the process gets a little stretched.
  3. The grey stuff is a sheet of self-stick felt which helps the glass slide. Notice it's about an inch up from the edge were the kapton is hanging off so I don't stick the Kapton on felt and get fuzzies.
  4. The second trick is to slide the glass down into the tape. The edge keeps it nice and straight and the angle keeps just the very edge of the tape in contact with just the very edge of the glass.
  5. Then I use a piece of a shower squeegee and slowly work up from the bottom smoothing as I go. Again, that angle is your friend, keeping the tape from touching the glass until you start squeegeeing.

Gwhite
Posts: 196
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:38 pm

Re: Do I need the bed factory applied Kapton for PLA?

Post by Gwhite » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:46 pm

Food for thought:

I'm still using my original plate with the factory film, and I'm trying to keep it in good shape. One thing that helps is not to pry off the prints. I've found that tapping on them sideways with a pine stick will usually do the job, but that depends a lot on how sturdy your print job is. It wouldn't work on intricate/delicate objects. You should remove the build plate if it requires any significant force to get your prints loose, and when you do, you can look through the underside to see where it is stuck & needs a few more taps.

In any event, when the Kapton eventually dies, I'm probably going to switch to hairspray on the glass. I've flipped the plate over and used it with both PETG and PLA with great success. The part I really like is that once the bed cools down, the prints just pops off. The only reason I don't use it all the time is that it smells a bit & you have to refresh it occasionally. For most of my PLA prints, I can pop the prints loose from the Kapton either by flexing them slightly, or the tap-with-a-stick technique.

I'm using some PLA now that REALLY loves to warp. For that, I'm using glue stick on the Kapton. The downside is that even when cool, the prints are solidly stuck to the bed. A series of taps around the perimeter does the trick. Glue stick seems to last a long time without any attention. I've run about 6 identical prints now on the same surface,

User avatar
NF6X
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2016 9:16 pm
Location: Riverside, CA, USA
Contact:

Re: Do I need the bed factory applied Kapton for PLA?

Post by NF6X » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:07 pm

Thank you very much for explaining how you apply the film, Hugs. I knew there had to be some technique involved.

Post Reply