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There’s a lot of buzz surrounding 3D printers because they are now widely available and becoming more affordable each year. However, choosing the best 3D printer hinges on knowing your options. So, to help you choose the best printer, we have many articles explaining the various components. Below we’ll compare two options for one of the essential parts of 3D printers: Glass beds vs magnetic.
But don’t stop here. We have many other articles for you to explore. For example, we have a helpful article comparing ABS vs PLA printing materials. And for a look into specific models, we have yet another explaining Delta vs Cartesian printers.
To avoid warping or structural issues during printing, clean the plate after every use to eliminate debris, dust, or leftover filament.
The goal of every 3D printer is to create an object. To do this, there needs to be a platform (also known as a build plate) to form the final product. And while it may seem like a trivial detail, the substance of this platform matters a lot.
Two of the most typical bed materials are glass and magnetic sheets.
Glass beds are the most common type found with 3D printers, as they are smooth, will not warp, and is a great conductor of heat.
Magnetic beds are the newest type of build plate to hit the market, and reviews are mostly positive. A magnetic bed comes with two main parts:
So which is best? That, dear reader, is a decision for you to make. Each type has pros and cons regarding how an object adheres to its surface, overall durability, and cost.
If you want to learn more about essential concepts of 3D printing, check out some of our additional articles. For example, we have a great read on 3D print nozzle diameter and layering height. And for more on how to boost print adhesion, we have a great explainer on the use of 3D print rafts vs brims.
Glass beds have the smoothest and most level of surface quality. Additionally, glass beds have excellent heat distribution and are least likely to warp an object of any other bed material.
Magnetic beds are good for a time but are more likely to become blemished and have the worst heat distribution, meaning they require more heat.
Although a magnetic surface is not an excellent conductor of heat, the adhesion quality is unmatched. Therefore, magnetic beds do not require additional adhesion methods, while printers may need to add a product to the glass bed to help the 3D object stick to the bed.
The main complaint with magnetic sheets is that they wear out quickly because they are made of a weaker, flexible material that doesn’t withstand heat. Therefore, over time the material used to make the plate will warp.
Glass is more durable and highly resistant to warping. However, glass plates have durability issues because they are known to break or crack under too much pressure.
Exercise a lot of caution when removing a 3D print model from a magnetic plate, as this is the step most likely to damage the bed.
Magnetic plates come with the additional cost of frequent replacement, each new plate costing anywhere from $15-40. So, if you are on a tight budget, sticking with a glass plate might be the best option because it will last a long time, reducing costs.
STAT: The most heat-resistant glass bed is called “Borosilicate Glass.” This type can withstand temperatures of up to 240 degrees Celius. (source)
On the other hand, glass plates are affordable as they are very common. Typically, they cost anywhere from $10-25.