Most 3D printer use a heated bed to make sure printed objects stay in place (amongst others).
The principle is based on keeping the object at a certain temperature, so that temperature differences between printed layers will not cause “warping” and even pop your object loose from the bed … and as a result of that screw up your print, and in bad situations even start dragging your object all over the place. (reference)
The time it takes to heat a bed however can take a long time, and frankly, I’m not that patient. So I use a super simple and cheap trick to speed up the heating process of the heated bed. It’s pretty much free and easy to use. I assume this will work for all 3D printers that print with plastics like ABS, but I have only used it with a LeapFrog Creatr so far.
Why does it take forever to get a heated bed to the right temperature?
With most 3D printers, the heated bed is exposed quite a bit. When heating the bed, a lot of the heat is lost to the direct environment.
For example: If you room is 20 degrees Celsius (68 F), and you’re trying to heat your bed to 90 degrees Celsius (194 F), your heated bed will be loosing heat to the room it’s standing in. Not all of it of course, otherwise your room would be getting pretty toasty, but still quite a lot and mostly to the air surrounding your heated bed.
For my LeapFrog Creatr (which even has most sides covered by panels) for example it takes more than an hour to get to 90 C (194 F) in a room that is 20 C (68 F).
Air “conducts” heat poorly, but it “transports” (convection) air pretty good.
That’s why still standing air is applied in insulation techniques like double pane windows.
The same logic is also why moving air is used for your Air-conditioning.
Now you might understand why “moving” should be avoided, as it cools down your bed.
Note : Humidity, or the amount of water molecules in the air, does play a part in this as well – so your milage may vary.
Poor man’s trick to decrease heated bed heating time
First step is of course to make sure that you limit moving air around your 3D printer. So fans, open windows and a lot of motion near the printer should be avoided. We can reduce the airflow with this dirt cheap trick and the results are impressive.
Applying this trick did cut down the heating time for my Leapfrog 3D printer from more than an hour down to 20 minutes – I’d say that’s an improvement for impatient people like myself, and it will save you in the end on your power bill as well.
Heated bed turbo boost
<insert Knight Rider turbo boost sound here>
All we need for this trick is a garbage bag.
I used a straight forward and simple Glad 13 Gallon Trash Bags (50 liter bag) which measures approximately 58 cm (W) x 68 cm (H) or 23 inch (W) x 27 inch (H).
3D printers come in different shapes and sizes so you might need to look for a big bag that first your 3D printer better. This size work beautifully for my LeapFrog Creatr.
Step 1 – Cut one side of the bag
Put the bag on a flat surface, the floor or a table, and cut one side open as shown in the illustration below.
Prepare your garbage bag
Step 2 – Slide the bag over your printer
When you start the process of heating your heated bed, slide the bag over your printer as illustrated below. Notice that the top of the bag is positioned at the top back of my LeapFrog 3D printer. Different 3D printer form or shapes might require a slightly different positioning – as long as all, or at least most, openings of the printer will be covered.
During the heating process, you will notice that the bed heats significantly faster.
When your bed has reached the desired temperature, remove the bag, so it does not block your view when you printer starts printing.
Cover your printer with a garbage bag