If you’re an avid 3D printer user, you probably know that there are many different surfaces you can print on—one of the most favorable options being glass. You might be wondering whether or not these glass beds wear out.
Glass beds do wear out over time despite their durability. Lower-end glass beds can wear out and get warped more quickly. Glass beds can wear out because the glass doesn’t get heated evenly when used with a 3D printer.
The rest of this article will go into further detail about glass beds, so you can understand why yours might be wearing out.
Why Do Glass Beds Wear Out?
Glass beds wear out because using them with 3D printers frequently will warp them over time. They wear out because heat doesn’t get distributed evenly across the surface when 3D printing.
3D printing is a process that relies heavily on heat. Most of these printers heat plastic filaments that are printed into different shapes and designs. Heat is an important thing to note and plays a significant role in the wearing down of 3D printer beds.
Because 3D printing doesn’t heat the entirety of the printing bed, heat doesn’t always get evenly distributed across the surface. It can cause glass beds to warp and wear down over time because some parts get warmed more than others.
What Is a Print Bed?
A print bed is a surface that the printed materials get printed onto. Print beds are one of the most critical parts of a 3D printer because, without an even surface for the material to be built on, the final product may be flawed.
Common Types of Print Beds
3D printer beds are made from a variety of materials. Here are some of the most common types of print beds:
Though print beds are constructed from many different materials, glass is most favored for its superior flatness and durability.
What To Do When Your Glass Bed Warps
If you notice that your glass 3D printer bed has started to warp or wear down, there are some things you can do to solve this problem. Here are just a few suggestions:
Replace the Glass Bed
An easy solution to your warped glass bed issue is just to replace the bed entirely. Glass is a reasonably inexpensive material, and you might find that your time is more valuable than what it would cost to replace it.
But if you’d rather not spend money on a brand new print bed, there are other ways to fix the warping issue.
Balance Out Warps With Tape
If your glass bed has warped enough to affect the projects you’re printing, one way to fix this is to balance out warps with tape.
If some areas of your glass bed are less level than others, you can add layers of tape to level out the surface. Foil tape is a good recommendation because of its desirable thermal conductivity.
Switch to Borosilicate Glass
Another way to tackle the warping issue is to switch to borosilicate glass.
90% of the world’s manufactured glass is soda-lime glass. This glass is so popular because of how inexpensive it is to acquire and process—it’s also accessible to many companies across the globe. However, soda-lime glass can’t handle extreme heat or shock.
Borosilicate glass is unique because about 15% of its makeup consists of boron trioxide, making it significantly more thermally resistant than other types of glass like soda-lime.
This glass can withstand temperatures up to about 340°F (171.11°C). It’s ideal for projects like 3D printing that require high temperatures and supplies that can withstand those temperatures.
That’s why borosilicate glass remains a favorite in the 3D printing world. If you’re concerned about your glass warping, you might be better off making the switch to borosilicate, so you don’t have to fix the issue of worn-down glass print beds constantly.
Benefits of Using Glass Beds
While glass beds made from soda-lime and other inexpensive materials tend to warp, glass is still the favorite choice for many 3D printing enthusiasts—even without higher-end borosilicate glass—because of its superior durability and wide range of other benefits.
The following discusses a few of those benefits:
Glass Beds Offer Better Heat Distribution
Glass beds are such a popular choice in the 3D printing world because they warp a lot less than other materials.
While borosilicate glass is higher-end and can withstand a lot of heat, even traditional soda-lime glass can achieve even heat distribution compared to materials like metal and plastic.
Though lower-end glass is still susceptible to warping, you might find that other non-glass beds are even more vulnerable to warpage when exposed to hot 3D-printed material.
Glass Beds Offer a Smooth Surface
The smoothness of glass is another benefit of using glass beds for 3D printing instead of metal or plastic.
Texture or flaws in the material of your bed can affect the overall outcome of a 3D printed project. If your print bed is grainy, then the surface of your project will come out with a similar texture.
That’s why it’s so important to have print beds that are smooth and not grainy. Glass is an excellent option for print beds because it’s a highly flat material that can save your 3D printing results from a lot of imperfections that you’ll most likely face with other types of print beds.
It’s Easy To Clean Glass Beds
In addition to being more durable and smooth, glass is also very easy to clean—another reason why many people favor glass beds instead of the other options out there.
Fortunately, glass is a relatively easy material to clean. That’s why it’s important for 3D printing because it’s an activity that deals with a lot of adhesive and heated materials that often leave quite a bit of mess.
That’s because glass is typically a non-stick surface, meaning not many things tend to stick to it. You can easily clean a glass bed with a homemade distilled water and vinegar solution.
While lower-end glass beds can wear out over time, glass is still the most durable and heat-resistant option for print beds. If you’re looking for a print bed that’ll last you a long time with minimum warpage, glass is the way to go.