So in the week that I've had the Cetus, it's been printing pretty much non-stop and is going great guns. There have, however, been a couple of failed prints where the print hasn't adhered to the build plate properly and has come off and just melted itself around the nozzle. Luckily, these both happened while I was watching and so no major drama occurred but it's still a tad annoying and would have been a royal pain in the butt if I'd set it away on a 10 hour+ print job only to have it fail in the first couple of minutes. That's when I decided it was time to apply a special surface to the aluminium print plate, rather than rely on either glue sticks or printers tape. I had been expecting this since I elected not to get the Cetus' original coated buildplate, but rather two uncoated ones instead. I wanted to experiment and see what different coatings could do.
A few of the users (both on the Cetus and other 3D modelling forums) had posted about their success with a material called LokBuild from a UK company called Steelmans, who ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for it last year (Oct 2016).
I found an online supplier for it (www.OozNest.co.uk) and bought a single 8-inch sheet and had it posted out 1st class Royal Mail. Total cost: £11.87 (inc. VAT & postage). It arrived the next day.
Making sure the Cetus was turned off so that I could manually raise the Y-axis rail out of the way, I attached a plastic spring clip to the vertical linear rail (Z-axis) to hold everything out of the way while I was working. If you don't have one of these plastic clips, a spring-loaded wooden clothes peg should work.
After cleaning down the build plate with window cleaner (to remove any traces of glue stick) and then rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) using paper towel to avoid lint fibres, I took my spare build plate and used it to trace out the size/shape on the back of the LokBuild sheet. I then cut it to size using scissors and peeled the backing paper off and applied it to the fitted plate, being careful to avoid trapping air underneath it - you don't want any bubbles forming and getting trapped.
I then powered up the Cetus, initialised it (to home all of the axis), removed the plastic clip I had put on the Z-axis rail and then did a manual bed level since the LokBuild sheet will clearly be too-thick to use my old settings - even if my vigorous bed cleaning hadn't already thrown it out of whack!
A few moments later and I had everything levelled up and sent my first print to the printer - without a raft or skirt. According to Steelmans, the manufacturers of LokBuild, there's no need to squish the first layers down and so I didn't use any nozzle offset at all.
The print came out flawlessly, and boy did that sucker grip! So much so that I was worried I would bend the build plate by trying to pull it off so I had to resort to using the scrapper (very carefully, so as not to cut or gouge the LokBuild) and after a few tense seconds, it popped right off. The bottom contact surface is lovely and smooth and there is absolutely no trace of warp on any of the edges.
If you're wondering what the difference between prints with/without the LokBuild, here's a couple of photos.
This one is without. Notice the slightly curled edges? That could be avoided fairly easily if the Cetus had a heated bed, but it doesn't and a build surface material like LokBuild is a very affordable alternative.
This next image shows two prints done on the LokBuild, laid edge to edge to highlight how the curling is pretty much eliminated. The slight gap (a few microns) could easily be attributed to the fact that they were printed at 0.2mm layer height. Anyway, I'm more than happy with the results and now (2 days later) even after pretty much continuous, back-to-back 1 hour print jobs, I've not had a single failed print. Score!
A saltbeard Grognard who's glad he never grew up enough to lose his imagination.