Monday, February 8, 2016

Never buy RepRap glass again

My MK2 on my Prusa i3 with a glass plate installed, showing off the clam clips I use as opposed to alligator clips

Not as much of an earth-shattering development as a simple realization, but I'd still like to share it.

Maybe it was me being clueless, but before today I had always purchased those glass plates marketed towards RepRap. You know, the ones that have RepRap in the title and the only details you can find about them are that they're borosilicate and measure 200mmx213mmx3mm?

Something like this.

They're costly. US sellers such as the one I linked will often charge $20+ for a single plate, and even if you buy from the lowliest AliExpress seller I've yet to see them go for under $12. (RobotDigg carries them for $6.80, but I'm guessing that's because their shipping is $11.)

Under normal conditions you could buy one for each printer and be done with it. However, what I encountered was that as my schedule got tighter and tighter, I could no longer afford to wait for it to cool down to remove the part, then heat it back up to start another print. I started simply taking the plate and rushing it to the sink to wash off the glue while it was still hot, and lo and behold, one of my two shattered.

So now I turn to an alternate solution.

Lowes carries plate glass in pretty large sizes, and they offer cutting services. Today I visited my local Lowes and ended up having a very friendly employee cut 14 pieces from two sheets for a grand total of $8.98.

My stack of "only" 12 plates; the other two are installed
They are hand cut, so they're sharp and not cut perfectly, but honestly at this price who cares? I could literally treat them as disposable resource and swap one out with every major print. (I plan on cycling them, so while one is printing the other is cooling, etc)

What's more, they had an option that was quite useful: 3/32" thickness. 3mm was just a bit too thick for both of my printer's bed clips, since I don't use binder clips. Also, it's less heat capacity to heat, so it reaches marginally higher temperatures and at a faster rate.

I haven't tested thermal shock resistance, which is what killed my last plate. However, now I no longer need to. I can simply swap plates and let the the hot one cool down slowly instead of dunking it in water to remove the prints as fast as I can.

As it is now, I don't see myself going back. If you happen to be in a similar situation, I highly suggest you go to a local hardware store instead of buying the "Reprap" plates online.

(Leave it to me to write 400 words solely concerning choice of glass.)

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