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  1. #1
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    Nov 2016
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    Post Care and feeding of your LokBuild build surface.

    I thought I'd put this out there since this has proven itself as a reliable means to understand and maximize your use of LokBuild.

    First of all, having been a late adopter, I have to say that all my worries have been alleviated about LokBuild as a build surface.
    You will also notice in my various posts that I prefer a very gentle touch when it comes to gapping the nozzle.
    This is important to understand only in that part of my requirements in 3D printing is to minimize post-print processing.
    The problem I am avoiding with this method is what is known as "elephant foot".
    This is a case where the first couple of layers are squished enough for the print to stray far from its intended geometrical boundary.

    Testing the proper gap. And I use "proper" very loosely here. For my purposes, "proper" means I can print the test print and easily discern the 3DS logo on the build plate side of the print. You will notice that the rest of the initial surface is quite sparse. And in my book this is okay...
    And I must add something you may have never noticed. The Cube 3 test print was generated with a different slicer than the current one. Although the test print lays down traces sparsely, a subsequent properly sliced print is actually a lot denser. For instance, if I add a sidewalk to the print sliced with the Cube App, these traces are now well sealed to its neighbor trace. This is a tell tale sign that the current Cubify slicer is more generous with material than the default test print generated by an unknown or earlier slicer.

    Using this technique with your stock build plate and glue really does test your patience. The glue will either lift from the build plate or the part just pops loose at some random level of printing. Nothing more frustrating than having a build plate failure after many hours of printing. More Elephant Foot allowance by lessening the gap tends to help, but that is not the solution... merely a limitation of the solution provided by 3D Systems.

    Along comes LokBuild... as well as an assorted variety of build surface materials from other suppliers or manufacturers. I can only speak to the stock 3DS build plate w/ glue vs. LokBuild as these are all I have experience with. LokBuild does have some unique properties that I really enjoy. I have to say that in my opinion, they hit the right formula for a lot of things over and above just the surface itself.

    As a disclaimer, I have no financial or sample ties to LokBuild or any distributors of LokBuild. This post is my experience on 2 machines using PLA and ABS and the stock slicer with no fiddling with the .cube3 files. I suspect you will find these things on your own, but sometimes it is nice for someone to put the bug in your ear.

    My first LokBuild purchase was with mixed results. I don't know if I damaged it or if the surface is somehow compromised a little. It could well be something that has resolved over time. However, I decided that this would be my ABS dedicated build plate. That means I back up the build process with Cube Glue. Plenty of alternate solutions to Cube Glue out there so I will leave it at that. In this case, the glue works amazingly well with ABS. There are also means to conserve glue that I employ regularly. I have also had a few PLAs that would not stick directly to LokBuild with ease. For those materials, I will do a spot-glue for just that print. However, for the LokBuild surface that keeps failing me, I printed a 6" PLA "surround" directly on the LokBuild. The next step is to slather Cube Glue generously and evenly on the plate. This plate is ready to print on. As the glue becomes "used", I simply wet the surface and with a few fingers, just re-distribute the glue. It takes an amazingly thin coat to remain functional. I think LokBuild does help in this regard. Now that I am not gapping between nozzles, I don't need to level or gap the machine very often. This also removes the issues with glue on build plate when it comes to the maintenance routines. I will tell you this; this particular build plate has been a workhorse in my recent re-acquaintance to ABS on the Cube 3.

    In total, I have 5 build plates clad with LokBuild. The above mentioned plate is the only one that has permanent glue on it. The rest function nicely all on their own. Again, a very light touch on the nozzle-gap produces amazing prints! Still have the occasional "difficult" material. Easily solved by one of countless methods from qualified blue tape for a quick print to a dash of glue if I want to preserve the build plate texture. The one material that was iffy was the PrintRBot PLA. Since they went under, I won't have to worry about that much anymore. Still love their PLA though. 3D Solutech and 3D Systems PLA both love to adhere to LokBuild!

    But there is a secret that helps more than anything... A simple tip that will maximize your adhesion under varying environmental conditions.

    Clean you LokBuild! Yes, you must remove the oils from your fingers from time to time. Seems every 10 prints or so, you will have a level of minute failure on LokBuild. This is typically manifest by a "fill curl" or "start-snag" where the fill is not sticking and just makes a ball in the area where it curls. Often, you can ignore this and the rest of the build buries the snafu, but this is -not- normal behavior. I usually watch for this in an important print. Fortunately there is a simply solution.
    I know alcohol is often mentioned to clean LokBuild. That will remove the oils but I have not had good luck with it. We use a mild detergent for our normal dish-washing. Turns out that using this detergent directly on the LokBuild with a good finger-scrubbing followed by a warm water rinse really does a nice job of removing just about anything that keeps LokBuild's "pores" clogged.

    A cold build plate does affect your LokBuild adhesion significantly! One trick that I have found invaluable in using LokBuild is avoiding a cold build plate. That build plate needs to be 70*F at a bare minimum. I want it upwards towards 100*F for the initial part of the print. Not having heaters is a bummer, but I've come up with means to manage this on nearly every print. BE CAREFUL WITH THIS METHOD! You can cook your magnets or destroy your build surface if you get careless!
    I use normal electric stove to accomplish the warming of the build plate. I'm sure you can adapt the essence of that I am doing to other means.
    I use the stove in two ways... both are based on timing and risk mitigation.

    Method 1: Start your print and as the nozzle is warming, take the build plate and put it on the stove's large burner. Turn the stove on maximum for a proper count of 10 (10 seconds). In doing the count, keep you hand on the build plate. It should never get so hot on the top (LokBuild side) as to make your hand uncomfortable. Keep the build plate on the burner until you can feel enough warmth on the LokBuild to sense that the cold has been replaced. Take the build plate from the burner -carefully- as not to burn yourself. The heating coil will be quite hot. The backside of the plate will probably be less than comfortable if you did this right. This method makes sure you remain vigilant and present during the heating process.

    Method 2: The second stove method is a little more lenient with your time but it does suggest you need to characterize your heating source. In this case, it is the same as before except that you only leave the stove on for a count of 3 or 4. You can then turn off the burner and leave the plate on the stove while you do whatever you do while waiting for the printer's nozzle to heat up. When the nozzle goes back to the side, your build plate will be at a reasonable temperature.

    Warning! Neodymium magnets can loose their "charge" due to heat. They do not always recover in case of severe thermal abuse. They can be replaced but this is something you should be aware of.

    I'm going to suggest that this process is a "de-chilling" process. Overnight, my build plate can get downright cold. This presents a huge shock to the melted filament. This thermal shock keeps the filament from forming a bond with the LokBuild. This is not only true with LokBuild... it is true with glue and other build surfaces as well. If we had a heated bed, we'd be using it, right? Well, this is a poor-man's heater that works amazingly well in establishing a good foundation for the remainder of the print. Managing prints that have a tendency to curl is outside of this discussion's scope.

    Finally, I will comment on LokBuild's longevity. One worry most of us have when embarking on a new process is how often the new gadget needs to be replaced and how difficult it will be to replace it. And the associated cost, of course. For all the options out there, LokBuild is fairly inexpensive. LokBuild really does last if you take care of it. Even small areas damaged by improper gaps have come back to life after continued use of that area. The tack on the LokBuild adhesive is impressive. It is close to the tenacious acrylic adhesive 3DS uses to adhere their surface to the aluminum. Bottom line; once stuck it is stuck! This just means that sure, you can remove it, but the cleanup will be more than a simple wash-up. You have some options at this point though. I will leave that for another discussion. I am not sure what constitutes "end of life" for LokBuild. It could well be regenerative by its very nature.

    Again, I am a late adopter to this magic material. At this point, I won't give it up. Share your thoughts on build plate adhesion.

    Just to give you an idea of how I use my ABS LokBuild plate. Notice the gray 4-trace/1 up border on my plate.
    Rather than slurry ABS with acetone on a build plate, I am slurring glue with water. The gray surround captures the excess glue and maintains it for a later "wetting". I've been printing on this plate for several months and only yesterday did I add a additional coat of glue.


    The trace is 6-inch square outside [152.4mm] and 5.858-inch square [148.8mm] in the center and 0.2mm thick.

    One thing about LokBuild over the stock build plate... the glue adheres better to the LokBuild than the stock build plate.
    When you pop off a print, most of the glue remains with the LokBuild. The stock build plate often gives up large patches of the glue.
    This just adds another level to the usability of the LokBuild build surface.
    Last edited by TommyDee; 08-30-2018 at 08:38 PM.

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