Manufacturers across all types of industries are increasingly turning to 3D printing — also known as additive manufacturing — for optimal versatility and cost-efficiency in their product development processes. Now the go-to technique for prototyping in a wide range of applications, 3D printing is being used more and more often as a primary production method.
As 3D printing technology continues to evolve, the rise of this method for industrial applications is now driving demand for 3D printing supplies. Among these required supplies are printing beds, also known as build plates or print surfaces, platforms onto which objects are 3D printed.
Materials for 3D Printing Beds
Printing beds for 3D printers are traditionally made from acrylic or aluminum. Aluminum is the more common bed material for larger industrial 3D printers, which typically print with materials that have higher melting temperatures.
However, industrial 3D printer operators are increasingly looking to glass as a reliable printing bed material. Glass printing beds carry a number of benefits over acrylic and aluminum beds; typically offering a better surface finish than plastic or metal beds, glass beds have much more consistent flatness measurements and allow for much easier removal of printed objects.
More specifically, borosilicate serves as an ideal glass material for 3D printing beds. Made from a blend of boron trioxide and silica, borosilicate is highly durable and, particularly important for 3D printing, has a very low coefficient of thermal expansion; when it comes into contact with heat or heated materials, such as the high temperatures of molten 3D printing material, borosilicate glass experiences very minimal physical changes.
Borosilicate glass works particularly well when paired with a heat bed, which is used to slow the cooling process of a printed object, thereby reducing the risk of warping.
When cost is more of a concern than heat, soda lime glass is a suitable alternative. With less durability than borosilicate and a higher coefficient of thermal expansion, soda lime is best suited for use with lower-temperature 3D printing materials and 3D printing projects with more flexible tolerance requirements.
Glass Printing Beds From Swift Glass
Swift Glass has been manufacturing industry-leading glass components for almost 100 years, and we’re proud to offer our customers high-quality, reliable glass cutting and edging services for 3D printing bed applications.
Borosilicate and soda lime from Swift Glass, available in thicknesses ranging from ⅛ inch to 1 inch, last a very, very long time when handled properly and require extremely minimal maintenance. Available in a wide range of shapes and sizes, they can also be customized to accommodate even the most irregularly shaped 3D printed objects, and are available in both small quantities for bed retrofits or replacements, and in large quantities for 3D printer fabricators.
To learn more about glass 3D printing beds or to discuss how we can help with your next project, contact the experts at Swift Glass today.