Thursday, 28 March 2019

Wam Bam PEX 3d printing surface (P2)

I moved onto abs filament to see how well that stuck to the pex material. I'm going to perpetuate that old often used but inaccurate saying  "Here be Dragons"

I dried some black abs I had here for 3 hours at 50c in my food dehydrator then re-printed the same warp inducing file I used in part one. At first I tried with nothing to help with adhesion and that turned out to be a failure. I was laughing too hard to remember to take pictures. It only got about 10 layers in when I discovered a spaghetti monster forming.

In preparation for this last night I made up some thin abs juice with some of the filament and some acetone so I schmeered it on the PEX just as I have in the past on pei and restarted the print. This time we lasted about 41% into the print before it started to lift on one end and then at around 60% it did the same at the other end.

I was very slap-happy with how I used the Juice and it wasn't an even coating at all, but despite this I never expected it to work all that well anyway and said as much in part 1.

Here we are nicely stuck down on the abs juice and lasting longer than without the slurry.

The part is still stuck at 41% of the print and with temps I felt I could use, or reach with my newish CR-10.

I did have it set to 100 but because it was taking so long to get to temp I went back and set it to 80 degrees and bumped it up as it printed to 90. I was about to raise it again but it was warping by then so decided not to. Would that have made any difference? Maybe? I doubted it though, with no enclosure which may not have even helped as this stl was designed to warp with these kinds of filaments. A reminder that pla didn't even think of lifting.

So conclusions.................and this wasn't very scientific but under my usual work flow of being too lazy to level every time or wait until everything had cooled down prior to evenly spreading some abs juice down on the surface etc

PLA = Brilliant

PETG = I think might be ok but it will depend heavily on the part you're trying to print and the addition of some kind of adhesion promoter like abs juice would definitely help. It did stick really well to the surface but still lifted in places. I tried to remove it while the bed was still hot and it resisted my attempt strongly.

ABS = Life too short to be trying abs on this surface, especially on a printer never really designed to handle it. The bed temps really need to be around 100-110 and the printer inside a heated chamber. Like petg though some parts might work but it will depend on their shape. If you can get it to stick then dont let a print designed to warp stop you from trying as the print finish was bloody beautiful. Find another way to get it to stick down you wont regret it.

Final print and while it cracked and lifted it was still difficult to remove from the bed saying that if I had of been more thorough with the abs juice and coated more evenly, the lifting might well have been so much less or not at all.

The cracks however indicate that my print temp was too low and my whole print room way too cold to print abs. So an enclosure and hotter print and bed temps for this roll of unmarked abs are needed.

On the right hand side you can see where there wasn't enough abs juice to help hold things down.

The print quality or surface finish is fantastic and if this stuff didn't come with so many other issues I'd happily print with it all the time.................for one, it is a lot cheaper than most other types of filament.

I'll clean this abs juice off after the print finishes just to see if it is affected in  any way by acetone etc. I doubt it will be, as it was touted as having better heat resistance than pei etc so I doubt hydrocarbons would affect it either, pei isn't affected by acetone or thinner etc.

All clean!!

I also lightly sanded the surface with some fine sand paper to rough the surface to assist with petg my favourite filament and one I'm returning back to soon. I'll do some more tests to see how that goes next, pla first to make sure everything is still good.

Please realise your results may vary to mine, my abs juice could have been too thin or a hundred other things ;-)

Quick pla test print after I lightly sanded the surface. Going to need some dynamite to remove this now lol .................or wait until it cools I guess, or pry it off with a tool of some sort. :-)

Wam Bam PEX 3d printing surface (P1)

I recently bought a Creality CR-10 that comes with a sheet of glass as a print surface. On my old printers I have pei sheets adhered to the print surfaces. These are all 1mm thick rather than the 0.3mm that companies like Prusa Research use on their Mk3 printers.

PEI is commonly used by Lulzbot and Prusa etc as it is a great material suited to high temperatures and its ability to hold a range of filament types.

So naturally I searched around the usual places for something to fit my 310mm x 310mm bed size and I found a reasonably priced Anycubic Ultrabase glass bed, so I ordered that. I was reticent though as my previous experience with this surface was hit and miss at best. After making sure my nozzle was very close to the surface I found with some practice I had reasonable success with it. You had to still be vigilant with it and keep an eye on it, unlike PEI, but it was ok.

I kept searching for some pei at 1mm thickness and 310 squared at a good price with some of the 3m adhesive but was coming up short in all areas. There were some thin sheets and some con atists from china selling buildtack in different colours and calling it pei but buildtack doesn't last under my heavy treatment and you couldn't give it to me for free to use.

I stumbled back onto Wam Bam flexible plate system that uses PEX rather than PEI. Not something I was too familiar with but had seen it before, after reading that is had some qualities above that of pei, and checking the bank account I decided to just get the PEX with 3m adhesive by itself as I couldn't afford the entire eco system. Not that is was overly expensive, my budget just didn't stretch that far having backed a kickstarter for another pei system and saving my money for that instead.

(nb Kickstarter just informed me that it didn't make the funding target)

"Size 310mm x 310mm / 12.2” x 12.2”
We have developed the Wham Bam PEX Build Surface from a specially formulated polymer with a higher melt point than even PEI to attract most any filament without damaging the sheet. Prints easily pop off once cooled and flexed. Pre-backed with 3M adhesive so it takes seconds to install!"

The sheet arrive quickly and I stuck it to my sheet of glass that came with the CR-10. I also considered sticking it to the back side of the Ultrabase as well and it is still a viable alternative.

It was easy enough to stick down, although being clear, I forgot to remove the thin, also clear protective sheet covering it. Funnily enough it worked really well and the print stuck to it quite well. :-)

I finally cottoned on to what I'd done, removed the film, and started another print.

For pla this stuff is fantastic, prints stick really well, dont warp and just pop off when cooled down. I rarely wait for things to cool and still force it off before it is cool enough though. :-)

These pics are all of a warp test designed for pei sticking like a champ. This test print will warp if you just look at it incorrectly so I was happy to see it not lifting with some pla.

Another test of a narrow coin holder that stuck well.

I moved on to some old PETG I had lying around to see how well it would stick to the PEX. It did warp up as expected but it was no where as bad as I expected.

I still haven't printed abs or asa on it as I still need to dry whatever I have here before trying them. To be honest I'm not expecting it to "not warp" off the surface but the good thing about pei and pex is that you can use an abs slurry on these materials and not harm them in any way and clean up is a breeze.

I also dont have a enclosure for this printer and will try to do these test before the Canberra Winter sets in. I'll crank the bed up as high as it will go and hope for the best. I'll repeat the tests with using a slurry of abs juice after that and will report back the results. For all I know abs might stick like a champ but I'll be using the same test print designed to warp so wont be holding my breath. :-)

This is not a sponsored or paid review in any way shape or form, but if you like to print pla, and even be really hap-hazard on how much effort you put into bed leveling this stuff just works like a dream, and out performs Ultrabase every time. Until the petg and using this warp test I didn't have any pla print come lose or even look like lifting.