Friday, June 21, 2013

Heated Printbed for the CubeX

If you have printed with ABS, you know that part adhesion to the print platform and part warping are quite a challenge and issue. The much higher shrinkage rate of the ABS material compared to PLA, make the part want to curl up at the edges.

I have printed some ABS parts with success, but most parts with a larger base, warp too much. The CubeX can print nice in ABS, if you can get the part to stick well to the print platform.
In this case (Yoda model) the ABS print came out good with the standard setup, and the warped bottom does not really matter much.

But often ABS parts look like this (above).

After trying blue tape, different glues, enclosing the whole printer, etc.. etc.. nothing seem to help enough against the part lifting and warping on many parts, when printing with ABS.

I finally acknowledged and what many suggest, that a heated printbed is most helpful for most ABS printing to get flat or straight parts.

So I searched and found a company (GRM Products)
that designed a heated printbed kit for the CubeX. They have been selling heated printbed kits for the 3D touch printers (similar to CubeX) and gotten very good reviews.

In my ABS part warping frustration, I did not hesitate to order the heated printbed kit and install it in my CubeX.


The installation is pretty straight forward. You remove the standard print platform base (3 screws) and then install the heated print bed re-using the same hardware. The controller box attaches with high strength double stick tape onto the side of the CubeX, and the self adhesive cable tie holders keep the cables in place. There is a cut off switch which turns the heater automatically off when the print is done. - very nice. The switch needs to be positioned and the switch lever needs to be adjusted to trigger properly. You have to do a little test print and mark the position on the side how far the print bed moves down after a print so you know at what height to position the heater cut off switch. Then you can use the "Move" command to move the printbed up and down at the mark and check if the switch triggers. Once the switch is in place it's good.
A new z-gap sensor was also installed in a different location, so the temperature changes would not affect the z-gap.


The design and finish of the heated printbed kit is solid and very clean. The print bed top surface is a high temp glass. The controller keeps the printbed temperature at the adjustable set temperature and is very easy to use. The print bed heats up very quick (2min for PLA (70deg C) and 5 min for ABS (110deg C).  The max adjustable setting is 135deg C.

The controller has also a 110V socket in the back, which can be turned on or off with a switch at the front of the controller.

The heated print bed platform is nice and flat. After the installation, you have to of course level the printbed and adjust the z-gap.

All three print platform leveling screws are accessible.

I check the z-gap after the printbed heated up, right before starting the print.

It was recommended to use blue painters tape or Kapton tape. So I started with blue painters tape first.

The first print was a 2"x1" small part that I could not print on the standard printbed without the part warping,  but with the heated printbed the part printed without warping.
I used blue painters tape on top of the glass platform to print onto. Print bed temperature at 110C.

Now printing a larger part:
The second print was a 6" x 2" square. During the print I saw that the blue painters tape lifted a little at the end of the part at the tape seam. So I aborted the print.
I only had 2" wide blue painters tape, so on larger parts, there is always somewhere a tape seam underneath the part. So it is best to use a wider tape or position the part that the tape seam is more in the middle of the part vs close to part edges where you have the most part shrinkage (pulling on the tape)
Next I put a 6" wide Kapton tape onto the printbed and printed the same 6" x 2" square part again.

The Kapton tape works great. The part stayed flat to the platform without warping. It showed already how well it printed without the part lifting and curling up at the edges. - awesome.

Next was a 9"L  x 2"W  x 2"H mount. I increased the printbed temperature to 120deg C.

Since this part is so long and the best possible adhesion might be needed, put a coat of Acetone/ABS slurry onto the Kapton tape. (other 3D printer users with heated printbed and Kapton tape swear by it) It is Acetone with pieces of ABS dissolved into it. I keep it in an acetone proof container and wipe a coat of it onto the print bed with a rag.

The print came out very nice. Very flat, no warping.  - this is great!

Using the slurry, the parts can be hard to remove from the platform after the print because the part binds so well to the Kapton tape with the slurry applied. The "helper pads" make it easier to remove the part without marring the part.  Helper disks download: Helper disks zip file

So on a smaller part I just print directly onto the Kapton tape. Sometimes the Kapton tape can get damaged when pulling the part off, but if it is not in an area where the next print is, I leave it. The Kapton tape usually lasts for a couple prints. Otherwise just put a new Kapton film on. I got a 5" and 6" roll of Kapton tape on Amazon. It's fairly cheap and there is a lot on a roll. It comes also in narrower or wider rolls.

After the print, it is recommended to let the heated printbed and the part cool before removing it, so this takes a little longer than without a heated printbed.

So far I only printed three smaller PLA parts on the heated printbed (at 50 - 70deg C). No glue, directly onto the Kapton tape. - No problem.

I will print larger parts soon and see how it would print directly onto the glass.

The heated print bed is permanently installed, no need to remove after a print since there is no glue to wash off. To replace the Kapton tape I just lower the printbed and thanks to the remove able top and access to the side and front, there is enough room to apply the tape onto the platform. First I thought oh - no, the heated printbed is not removable, but using it now, I find it is not necessary to remove it at all anyway.

The heated printbed definitely makes the difference for ABS printing.

The price for the CubeX Heated Printbed kit is not cheap, but I am very happy with the product, quality and ABS print results.

It is nice now to be able to get besides great PLA prints, also more successful ABS prints.

To see the 9" long part print perfectly flat on the heated printbed was quite amazing.

I will post some more ABS print results as they come along, besides the PLA printing.
(Note: I am not affiliated with GRM products and have to buy my stuff like everybody else, but I gladly promote companies with great products and services).


  1. Thanks for sharing Printman this really helps

    1. So you put on tape and glue for ABS end just tape for PLA? Can you print PLA without tape and glue?

  2. I have Kapton tape on the print platform for both ABS and PLA. Neither of them stick well to the glass platform itself. With the Kapton tape, no glue is needed for ABS or PLA. For larger ABS parts, I wipe some ABS slurry onto the top of Kapton tape, which makes the ABS stick even better. See my other post about using the heated print bed.

  3. will the Klapton tape work on a non-heated print platform?
    I only paid $350 for a 6 mo old Cubex Trio from Craigslist (the guy got tired of paying $130 for 600 grams of filament), and live on a very limited budget (disabled elder: SSI).
    It will be some time before I pay off my sweetheart (who loaned me the money).


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