in Figure 5-6, with many different sizes available to purchase. Typically you would want to purchase as wide
a strip as you can get for ease of installation, and to minimize the number of tape under or over lapping
“edges” on your build plate (which will show up on the bottom of your prints).
SPECIALIZED 3D PRINTING BUILD SURFACES
These are sold as third-party add-ons that help adhere prints to the build plate, as shown in Figure 5-7.
Typically, these all covering surfaces claim that no other adhesive or maintenance is needed other than
infrequent cleanings. We have found that they work, but care should be taken to make sure you have proper
nozzle alignment to the print bed. Otherwise, you run the risk of the heated nozzle melting one or more
grooves into the print surface, necessitating a replacement surface.
HOMING AND LEVELING THE BUILD PLATE
One of the most important factors in encouraging your prints to print successfully is making sure that the
first layer goes down evenly and “sticks” to the build plate properly. Many printers have automatic build
plate leveling calibrated through an automatic probe on the printer, but if your printer does not have this
function, you will need to manually level the bed using screwdrivers, screws, and patience. We highly
recommend you work with 3D printers that have this automatic bed leveling feature.
In automatic bed leveling, there is a sensor next to the nozzle that actually does not set the height of the
print bed, but rather reads the angle of the bed and adjusts the print process to compensate for a possibly
skewed build plate. Remember, your 3D printer prints at layer heights as thin as one-tenth of a millimeter
FIGURE 57: Specialized Buildtak adhesive surface applied to the build plate
(100 microns). This is a very small distance! Even small irregularities in the tightness of screws or tiny
variances in manufacturing tolerances for your printer components will cause a problem with bed level-
ing. Having the automated probe “read” where the corners of the build plate are, in relation to the nozzle,
prevents one (or more) sides of your print from being shorter than the others. See a picture of a nozzle and
sensor in Figure 5-8.
Even for printers with this feature, you still have to set the center height of the build plate manually by using
a piece of paper as a guide to the proper “home point” for the nozzle above the print bed. The bed itself could
be a little off at the edges, but due to the sensor, the print will still come out fine. See below for images on
this process and look up videos on the Internet if you want a better visual of this process.
If you do not have this automatic bed leveling probe, your build plate will need to be adjusted before every
single print. Even removing a print from the build plate can cause slight changes in the alignment of the
build plate, thus you will need to do this process often.
THIS INVOLVES TWO STEPS:
Leveling the bed so that all corners create a flat surface in respect to the movement of the left-
right (X) and front-back (Y) axes.
Adjusting the height of the bed so that the first layer lays down perfectly… not too far away from
or too close to the build plate.
FIGURE 58: Nozzle and sensor, with sensor highlighted in red
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