Makerbot Replicator – The Cure for the Curl

I really enjoy my Makerbot (5th Generation Replicator).  The only maddening part about it was getting good adhesion of prints to the build plate.  I tried all the standard tricks – blue tape, hair spray, hair spray and blue tape…

I designed a clamp system to hold down the raft during the print, and that was somewhat successful.

Recently though, I discovered a cure for the dreaded raft/print curl that plagues this and most 3D printers.  It is a mixture of old tech (Aqua Net hair spray) and new tech (Polyetherimide sheet).

Supplies for this upgrade:

–  Polyetherimide Sheet (PEI), available from GizmoDorks in all sizes:
–  Aqua Net Hair Spray

Lightly scuff the PEI sheet with 800 or 1000 grit sandpaper, then apply the PEI sheet to the glass plate according to the directions.

Then, before each print, spray a liberal amount of Aqua Net on the PEI sheet, covering the entire area where the print will reside.  Use about 3X what you would use if you were spray-painting the plate.  To cover the whole plate area, figure on spraying for about 7 seconds.  

The Aqua Net will go on cloudy, but will turn clear in a minute.  Wait about 5 minutes before printing.   For me, the raft sticks extremely well   Invest in a good putty knife or scraper to remove the print!

I don’t bother cleaning the PEI between prints – I just apply more Aqua Net with each print.

Now, even prints that take up the entire build plate will print with no curling.   Below is a group of brackets that I printed with this method that printed perfectly true.  I hope that this information helps others with their curling prints!

Look – no curl!

 

Author: Ed Kuzemchak

Ed Kuzemchak is the Chief Technology Officer and Director of IoT and Embedded Systems Engineering at Software Design Solutions, an Applied Visions company. Prior to founding SDS in 2003, Ed gained his experience as chief software architect for the digital signal processing (DSP) tools group at Texas Instruments, as a member of the Tartan Laboratories highly optimizing compiler team, and as the lead for a compiler team at Raytheon. Ed holds an MS in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh and is the author several patents on embedded systems software. His Erdos number is 5.