Printing ABS on a Glass Build Area

We’ve received some inquiries via social media regarding perf-board build platform alternatives. Here’s a day-in-the-life account from John Westrum, VP of Afinia:

I went to Ace Hardware in Chanhassen and had the guy at the key duplicating desk cut and edge-polish 3 pieces of 3/8″ glass (5.5″ x 5.5″). I asked if they had tempered glass, but they would have had to order that from St. Paul and it was going to be more expensive. The 3 pieces of glass cost $12.

The glass does wear out from heating and cooling because very small chips pop off the surface. We have one sheet with a couple of chips and I’m wondering if it will break completely, at some point in time – hence, the safety goggles!

It’s best to use a few paint brushes as these will eventually get so gunked with the ABS/acetone mixture that they won’t be pliable anymore. You’ll need to soak and rinse the paint brush in acetone after painting the glass to clear out as much ABS as you can.

When printing with glass, make sure the platform is as level as you can get it and have the nozzle a bit closer to the surface than you would with perf-board.

Also, when printing on glass, you can print without a raft. This will make the bottom surface of the model glass-smooth. This could be problematic because this surface will have a different finish from the other sides of the model.

Removing the model from the glass is usually very simple. Let the glass cool after the print is finished. The ABS surface and model will shrink slightly as they cool and the glass will not contract. This will pop the model from the glass. You will actually hear the ABS release with a “tink….tink…tink” sound. Sometimes, if the ABS coating was put on too thickly, you may have to wiggle, twist or push the model off the glass.

If the ABS coating is too thin, it may not hold the model in place during the whole print. I learned my lesson the hard way on this when I came in the next morning after a 9 hour print to find a hot mess of ABS spaghetti on the platform after the model moved on me.