Heated bed for 3d printer

Heat Beds in 3D Printing – Advantages and Equipment – Boots Industries

Why use a heat bed?

Heat beds are used because they dramatically improve print quality by keeping the extruded plastic warm and thus preventing warping. Warping is a common condition caused by plastic on the edges of the part cooling down at an uneven rate when compared to the plastic inside of the part. The result is that corners warp up and deform your model.

Rafts are an effective ”no-heat bed” strategy to deal with warping when a heat bed is not available.

In the past, techniques such as the raft (building parts on top of a ‘raft’ of material which is larger than the final part onto the build surface) were used to prevent warping by increasing the surface area of the part (and increasing it’s adhesion – thus fighting warping).

Derived from the raft, mouse ears are a clever and effective technique to make sure that the corners of your prints are well secured to the platform and won’t lift. Although they offer greater adhesion by increasing the surface area for your part to grip onto the bed, they are not 100% effective without a heat bed. Sometimes the warping forces are simply too great and can overcome the mouse ears.

Heat beds work to prevent this warping effect by keeping your part warm during the whole printing process which keeps the material at or above heat-deflection temperature (the temperature at which it is malleable). Keeping the parts in the heat-deflection range ensures that the part remains flat on the print bed. Heat beds, in combination with other tools to increase adhesion, will be covered in this article to bolster your ability to fight unwanted effects and improve your printing quality.

The following video shows what happens with no heat bed and no adhesive added to the glass. It depicts what can typically happen when printing on a non-sticky platform with no heat bed – Disaster!

No heat bed, print stuck to the extruder. Disaster!No adhesive used; a dramatic result and wasted PLA!

There are several types of heat beds & heating elements. We specifically discuss the PCB heat bed, the polyamide film heater (kapton film heater) and the aluminium clad heater. You can find a more exhaustive list of heater types here.


Types of heat bed

Regardless of the heat bed you are using, you should generally use these temperatures (heat deflection points) for PLA and ABS:

PLA 50-60°C
ABS 100-110°C

PCB Heat Bed

The MK2A heat bed (200mm x 200mm) is  a good example of a PCB heat bed. These heat beds are used by many 3D printers and our own (Rostock V1.0) due to their great performance and affordability. This particular heat bed has 2 integrated LEDs and an integrated resistor which makes it rather ‘plug and play’ when compared to other solutions.

You can generally expect a simple & clean implementation with these heat beds thanks to the 5 holes available for leveling and installation purposes. They require little vertical clearance when compared to a stainless steel sheet mounted with aluminium clad resistors and offer an even heat distribution. The cons is that they can be slow to heat up especially when used with another surface such as a glass pane.

Kapton (Polyamide) film heater

Kapton or polyamide is well know as a tape of choice for print surfaces, because of its heat resistance, smooth finish and high adhesion for PLA. Now think about two films of polyamide with a heating element sandwiched in between, now you have a polyamide film heater. Obviously, these are very thin, easy to install with an adhesive back, reliable and heat really fast. They have an integrated thermistor and are provided, unlike the PCB heat bed, in an unlimited variety of shapes. For these reasons, this is the type of heater foil we use on our latest 3D printer (BI V2. 0).

Aluminium clad heaters

This type of heaters is both very efficient and inexpensive, but they require more installation steps than the last two heat source we’ve discussed. As a matter of fact, they need to be screwed onto a surface, normally a stainless steel or aluminium plate. Then, the electrical circuit needs to be completed with a thermistor and an insulator if you have any temperature sensible elements under the print bed. Finally, it’s also a good idea to use thermal paste between the clad heater and the surface to be heated.

Surface to use with heat beds

All the heat sources mentioned in this article will typically need an added surface to preserve the quality & integrity of the heating element over time or to provide protection in the event of a hotend collision. Obviously, the aluminium clad heaters are always used in conjunction with a surface.

The recommended print surface to be used with a PCB or Polymide film heater is a borosilicate glass, or when unavailable, a tempered glass. For the PCB heat bed, we recommend layering Kapton tape or using a thin glass (2 mm) over-top.

Painter's tape & Kapton tape

In addition to a heat bed surface, most  users will experience that some form of adhesive or method is required to make PLA or ABS stick properly. This is where Kapton tape, painter’s tape, glue or hairspray comes into play.

Painter’s tape is an ideal product for printing ABS with a heat bed because of it’s textured surface increasing adhesion. We’ve used it with varying degrees of success and others report great results as well.

As far as PLA is concerned, our experience is that it doesn’t stick well to heated painter’s tape and that painter’s tape itself doesn’t stick well to the glass when heated. However, we found that PLA sticks very well to Kapton tape which is typically layered to cover the entire print area. The Kapton tape needs to be periodically replaced and this process can be tedious. To remove this obstacle, you can buy Kapton tape in wider rolls which means you need to layer a lesser amount of strips onto the print area to fully cover it.

Hairsprays & Glues

Glues are frequently used to make sure your print “sticks” to the print surface. The most common glue we have seen is the typical arts and craft glue stick (Elmers). This technique works well with ABS in conjunction with painter’s tape.

In the PLA department, we prefer to use hairspray on a glass surface. The glass surface is really flat and produces a really smooth finish for our parts. Another advantage of hairspray is that it can be applied in a few seconds and will typically create a thin film that strips away with the printed part or is easily scraped with a wood chisel or similar tool. Sometimes we use a wet rag to remove hairspray residue from the underside of parts when it’s not desired for aesthetic reasons.

What we recommend

We recommend the PCB heat bed or Polyamide film heater in conjunction with a glass surface. For PLA we always apply a thin coating of hairspray and so far this simple combination has been producing great results.

3D Printer Heated Beds - How Important Are They?

Like most tech, 3D printers have a host of accessories and add-ons that improve the quality of prints, decrease the chance of a failed print, and make general use easier.

One such add-on is the 3D printer heated bed, an accessory key to printing more complex projects and tougher filaments, such as ABS, Nylon and PETG.

Without enough heat underneath the model, you run the risk of the filament cooling too quickly, leading to warped edges and corners, and sometimes even cracking in the model’s midsection.

The decision to get a heated bed can be a tough one, especially if you’re new to 3D printing and want to try adding a heated bed.

We’re going to cover some of the most important and frequently sought information regarding these add-ons here, as well as what the best 3D printer bed surfaces are depending on how they’re used.

What Does a Heated Bed Do on a 3D Printer?

Heated beds are a 3D printer bed that heat up to various temperatures in order to regulate the cooling temperature of a print.

Heated beds are a good choice for filaments and projects that are prone to warping, as the temperature stops a print from cooling too quickly and losing its shape mid-print.

While many commercial 3D printers come with a heated bed as standard (a few years ago this was much rarer), many printers have heated bed add-ons for better ABS printing.

As 3D printers have evolved, so too have the features that come with them as standard, and more and more 3D printers on the market today do come with heated beds.

What are the Benefits of a Heated Bed?

As mentioned before, 3D printer heated beds reduce the chances of warping or mishappen prints for a variety of reasons.

As well as regulating the cooldown, a heated bed will also ensure first layer adhesion. In other words, the first layer of the print will stick more securely to the 3D printer bed. This provides a more solid foundation for the rest of the print, making warping far less likely. This is similar to how a pottery wheel holds the clay steady as it’s reshaped.

A 3D printer’s heated bed also makes post-print removal easier and less likely to damage your project. While the printing material is normally set as one type per project, a heated build surface will ensure any filaments don’t shrink or harden too quickly and become difficult to remove without damaging the print. This is like to how steam makes a letter easier to open by warming the glue on the envelope.

Are Heated Beds Necessary?

Like oiling a squeaky door, 3D printer heated beds are not necessary for most purposes, but they can make things run much smoother. How important they are depends on how you use your 3D printer.

If you prefer to use PLA filaments, then you may be comfortable without a heated bed. PLA barely warps even without a heated bed, and tend to do well as prints. While a 3D printer bed will always do better if heated, PLA users may find the expense and effort of installing a heated bed to simply not be worth it

However, if you use more fragile filaments like ABS and PETG, then a 3D printer heated bed is considered absolutely necessary. A heated bed is even more important if your 3D printer has an open build area, as cooler temperatures and even light breezes can warp these materials which are prone to becoming misshapen while printing.

It’s worth noting that there’s no such thing as the perfect filament, no matter the project you have in mind. All 3D printer filaments have the potential to warp, and a heated 3D printer build surface is one of the best ways to minimize the chance of a failed print.

Like with most things, the bigger the project, the higher the likelihood of failure. Smaller 3D printer projects like statuettes, bookmarks, and keychains will normally print and remove just fine. But larger projects, regardless of your chosen material, will always benefit from a heated build surface.

What’s the Best 3D Printer Bed Surface?

If your 3D printer didn’t come with a heated bed as standard, you may want to look into installing one yourself. Not all heated beds are created equal, and the best 3D printer bed surface – heated or not – also depends entirely on what you want to do with your printer.

3D printer bed surfaces, or build plates, come in many forms, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. We’ll look at a few of the more common ones here so you can decide which is the best 3D printer bed surface is right for you.


Glass is widely considered to be one of the best 3D printer bed surfaces. It’s solid, flat, and has a longer shelf life compared to most materials even when exposed to heat.

As a heated build surface, glass takes a longer time to heat up compared to others due to its low conductivity at room temperature. However, it’s one of the best 3D printer heated beds as it spreads the heat around more evenly than its metal and polypropylene counterparts.

However, in the event that heat is not spread evenly, glass can crack and even break, meaning it can provide a very dangerous environment if not used with cautious attention. While easily and cheaply replaceable, using glass as a 3D printer heated bed can go very wrong.

If you choose glass as your build plate, be sure to reduce this risk by going with good quality, even sheets at least 3mm thick.

It’s important to note that glass is not naturally adhesive, and so will require the use of glue or similar before printing.


Polypropylene is similar to glass in that it can provide a smooth finish on the first layer of a print due to its flat, even surface.

While it doesn’t have as long a shelf life as glass, polypropylene sheets are fairly cheap to replace, and are durable enough to handle larger prints and high temperatures.

Polypropylene is also considered to be one of the best 3D printer bed surfaces due to its high adhesion while hot, and low adhesion when cool. This means that when used as a heated bed, it will have solid first layer adhesion to reduce the chance of warping, and is also easy to remove from the project after its cooled, further reducing the chance of breakage.


Ceramic is used as a heating bed due to its even spreading of heat, much like glass. But unlike glass, ceramic build plates are not as prone to fracturing and breakage if heated unevenly.

Ceramic may be one of the best 3D printer bed surfaces due to this reduced risk, though its conductivity is even lower than that of glass, and so fast heating can result in cracks.

Ceramic is also considerably heavier and more expensive than glass, making it somewhat more pricey and unwieldy should it need to be replaced.

As long as precaution is taken when used as a heated bed to ensure a slow increase of heat, ceramic makes an ideal 3D printer build surface.


Metal materials are commonly used as 3D printer build surfaces due to their high conductivity. Most machines that use metal build plates come with them as standard, as the differences between various metallic materials make it difficult for non-experts to install as 3D printer heated beds.

The magnetic properties of most medals make them easily connectible and removeable to the right devices, especially if they come as thin sheets such as the East-Peelzy or BuildTak FlexPlate.

While metal conducts heat very well and can spread it around evenly, most varieties will expand when used as 3D printer heated beds, which can increase the chances of warping projects and even damage your 3D printer if it has an enclosed build area.

3D Printer Heated Beds Frequently Asked Questions

Are heated beds safe?

Like an iron or oven, the safety of a 3D printer heated bed relies on the caution of the user. Heated beds can reach temperatures of over 110℃, and can be very dangerous if not used with care.

If you are careful not to touch a build plate until it has properly cooled down, and ensure young children and pets are kept away from your printer while it’s in use, a 3D printer heated plate should be as safe as any heated device in your home.

Do I really need a heated bed?

You don’t need to have a heated bed if you’re printing PLA (though it helps), but it’s key to keep a heated bed on for ABS, Nylon and other filaments to prevent warping – ideally within a heated chamber.

Can I use blue tape on a 3D printer heat bed?

Tape is commonly added to 3D printer build surfaces to increase bed adhesion, and the same is true for heated beds. Just be sure to use blue (or painters’) tape, as it is highly heat resistant and can withstand the temperatures of even the hottest and best 3D printer heated beds.

Related articles:

  • Ender 3 glass bed – best options and guide

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4pcs 18mm Silicone Cushioning Bed Heated Hot Bed Leveling Column Kit for 3D Printer Reviews - Banggood UK Online Shopping

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