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A print bed, also known as a build plate or build platform, is a crucial part of any 3D printer. It provides a flat, stable, leveled surface for the printed object. The print bed must be leveled and calibrated properly to ensure consistent layer heights and good adhesion.
There are different types of print beds, including:
- Non-heated print beds: These are usually seen in entry-level 3D printers. Non-heated print beds work well for materials like PLA filaments, which don’t need a heated bed. They can be made from materials like acrylic, glass, or metal. Sometimes, they have a sticky surface or use glue to ensure the prints stick properly.
- Heated print beds: Heated print beds are commonly found in advanced 3D printers and are crucial for printing materials like ABS, PETG, and other high-temperature filaments. These materials need a heated bed to prevent warping and improve how well they stick. Heated print beds can be made from materials like aluminum, glass, or special build surfaces. The temperature can be adjusted based on the material the user is printing with.
- Removable or flexible build surfaces: Some 3D printers, like the Anycubic i3 Mega and Elegoo Mars 2 Pro, come with removable or flexible build plates, which makes it easy to take finished prints without causing damage. These build surfaces can be made from materials like spring steel, PEI, or specialized build surfaces. Depending on the printer and the material people are using, they can be used with or without heating.
- Auto-leveling print beds: Some 3D printers, like the Prusa i3 MK3/MK3S, are equipped with automatic bed leveling systems that use sensors to measure the distance between the nozzle and the print bed. This ensures that the bed is level and calibrated accurately.
Selecting the appropriate print bed type and material hinges on the 3D printer’s capabilities and the specific materials used for printing. Users would also need to perform regular maintenance and calibration on the print bed to ensure their 3D printer will continue producing quality prints.