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Question Which build surface for ABS and how to prepare?


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I'm printing ABS on smooth PEI coated with glue stick to avoid tearing apart my PEI sheet when removing the part. This process is tedious and leaves a rather rough surface. Are there better alternatives?
I use a smooth PEI, I prep it by scuffing the surface with fine wire wool, then wash it with dish soap and water, dry and then clean with iso and a clean shop towel. Most ABS sticks well.
If I am having adhesion issues with some brands ,I use 3dlac for some additional help
I've been using a Fabreeko (tm) Honeybadger (tm) dual coated PEI sheet, smooth side up. I put some ABS juice down (mostly acetone with a bit of ABS scrap) and it's completely eliminated my warp issues. the surface finish seems fine. it
For the most part I don't use any surface coatings, I've found that good quality PEI holds well.
I second thhe Fabreeko (tm) Honeybadger PEI sheets, I have used a lot of PEI over the years and these are the best, no warping, doesn't need any adhesion help etc.
I am using a buildtak type surface stuck to a glass bed right now. The parts are hard to get off if they have a large surface area but I can do it without damaging anything. I ordered a pei sheet but haven't tried it yet. I mostly just use aquanet on the glass because it works and you can't really damage anything. If you have an enclosed machine it is pretty easy to print ABS.
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My problem is that it seems to stick too well to smooth PEI. That's why I'm using glue stick to reduce adhesion. Sometimes it's very hard to get parts of.

The PEI sheet came with my V0 LDO kit.
I found that you don't need to squish the ABS into smooth as much as textured (for obvious reasons). If you do, it really starts to risk tearing the PEI - so don't squish so much.
My problem is that it seems to stick too well to smooth PEI. That's why I'm using glue stick to reduce adhesion. Sometimes it's very hard to get parts of.

The PEI sheet came with my V0 LDO kit.
For things with a large surface area I have been putting a putty knife on the corner of the part and tapping the handle with a screwdriver handle. For taller parts like the z eyedlers I can just pull them off.
I use the textured side, wash with soap and water, scrub with green scrub pad, wash again, dry well and wipe again with Iso.

I don't use the smooth side of some of my sheets as it sticks a little too well. ABS I've had almost no issues with, however ASA gives me problems the more I use it.

Formbot has the smooth side and it is great for PLA. I haven't gotten a smooth-sided print sheet on any LDO kit, yet.

If you don't like the textured side (it's growing on me) Wham Bam's plates are awesome. PEX grips almost everything like velcro. They also have bare steel that you can steel wool the surface for better grip. They aren't bad either, but man PEX is crazy grippy. In my experience.
I use textured and smooth PEI on a flexible plate - a bit of glue stick seems to make it work better.
I use a flexible PEI build sheet for ABS. It's usually smooth PEI, but depending on the project, I sometime switch to the textured build sheet. Occasionally I scuff up the smooth PEI it up with some fine steel wool. I only use Aqua Net if I'm printing PLA.
Spring steel sheet with PEI powder coating is where it's at for me. If parts stick too well, let everything cool down a bit and then flex the plate. This is assuming you have an enclosed printer, ABS is going to be tricks on an open printer especially a bed slinger.

To note : not all flex powder coated PEI plates come with a "smooth PEI side", actually most don't and it's just bare steel on the smooth side (even if it's yellow, this comes from the heat treatment of the spring steel)
I use different surfaces for different plastics and colors of filament.

Yes even the pigment and other additives (CF, GF, metal, sparkle particles, fluorescence, etc) can play a roll in both heat saturation and how the filament sticks (or doesn't).

A good rule of thumb is to run testing for both calibration of your hotend, extruder, print QC (including first layer and adhesion to the build plate) for every color, brand and batch.

  • For ABS, you have lots of options. PEI is the trend in the last 2+ years because it works pretty well, it's easy and limits use of some chemicals.

  • For PEI you should figure out if your print can tolerate the texture of the powder coated PEI or if you need to print on a smooth surface.

  • When PEI is new soap and water is just fine, you may need to scuff your PEI at some point, high grit wet/dry sand paper, steel wool or even the scratchy side of a "scotch-brite" scouring pad can do the job. Use soap and hot water to clean it, then use a high grade IPA to get rid of any soap scum or finger print residue off the build surface after installing on your build plate.

  • You can also use a ABS slurry, this is the old school method and still works VERY well. I use this for prints that are long and thin (maybe 2-4 line widths). A little goes a long way and so long as you have acetone around you can always turn your purge bucket, supports, etc into a never ending slurry jar.

  • You can also you a nano polymer like from Vision Miner, it works great but stings a little in the wallet.

  • FR4, you can use FR4 as a print surface as well, prints stick reasonably well, ymmv depending on the temps in your chamber.

  • On the flip side I've had some ABS that stick too well, specially yellow pigment ABS. For this I use a smooth PEI sheet that I lightly to moderately coat with hair spray so it releases easier, but still sticks.

If your build chamber is under 50c ABS is going to cool faster and faster the farther your print gets from the build plate. Do what you can to mitigate heat loss and try to stop any drafts in the printer area. If you don't have a build chamber or panels on your printer, you can cheaply build a 5 sided foam box with hot glue/tape and something around a inch (25mm) thick foam sheet and put it around your printer.

Hope that helps you with your prints sticking to your PEI sheet or at least gives you things to try.
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If prints are sticking so tight to pei sheet that it’s might destroy the surface, your first layer needs refining. I’ve never had abs stick that hard to abs unless my z offset was off.
Maybe we are using different things? Because it sticks so good it will pull up the coating. And waiting until it cools? Haha, it is more stuck after cooling. It is WAY EASIER to take it off the smooth PEI side when it is warm.

However, I have some WhamBam sheets that are phenomenal. After cooling they slide right off. Now to figure out a good surface for ASA - the sticky PEI smooth side does okay, but I seem to have to clean off the surface each and every time I need to print. ABS I can go back to back to back to...forever - unless I lose some of the print to the surface.

But you are saying my first layer if bad...which is news to...all of my successful prints over the years. I do need to tackle the Ellis tuning guide, but I've not had issues with actual printing. Only the print surfaces.

And PLA is great on the WB sheets. Seriously, stick awesome and slides right off when done. Though I don't print a whole lot of PLA at the moment. Since I've gone down the CoreXY rabbit hole, I've only printed ABS/ASA with the occasional attempt at tuning for TPU (almost there! and once I get my klicky and kinematics installed I'll finish dialing that in - BUT I do have some Sovols that are more than capable of printing TPU/TPE.