Alternate build plates

I wanted to check if those fancy hologram plates, TK99 and such are any good.
So I did what everyone does these and asked my trusted search engine…
Quite funny to see how no one cares about changing from textured PEI to something smooth in the slicer and wonders why it all comes out with massive elephant feet or adhesion problems…

With those sticker plates we now have more choices than ever, both in terms of material and texture effects.
And while some filaments seem to stick on them better than others you can’t deny that textured pei seems to provide superior adhesion.
But does it really if we prefer to use a glue stick ? :wink:

Let me start with the most painful choice: Tk99 / FR10 / G10…
Totally smooth, totally needing clamps…
Out of the box nothing really wants to stick, except PETG.
Give it a good IPA clean and things only get worse…
What you do need is to use soapy water and a sponge to clean the surface.
Wearing gloves helps to prevent fingerprints…
Finding the right bed temp with Tk99 is a bit of a mystery…
PLA might stick well on a room temp plate but a different colour is often enough to change that.
Between 45 and 60 degrees Celsius is the goldy zone for PLA.
Similar story with other filaments - you have to try a good range above and below the recommended ed temp.
Once you found it though adhesion problems are a thing of the past, especially for those filaments that struggle to stick to the plate.
You have to make sure the plate is CLEAN.
IPA works for some things but for others you need soap or acetone.
Never use metal tools on those plates and don’t force prints off!
Let the plate and print cool and they should separate with ease.

For the sticker plates we face quality issues and adhesion problems.
Prefer to use a dough roller or a cloth and your hands to press those stickers onto the plate before taking the protective sticker off.
Better to be safe than to find out later that the sticker wasn’t attached properly in a spot and now forms a bubble…
With the sticker off don’t bother printing…
Clean with IPA followed by a nice sponge treatment with soapy water a rinse off under running water.
Find a good lightsource and check the plate - it shall be shiny throughout with no signs of clouds, smudges or such.
Avoid handling them with your bare hands as they are extremely sensitive to fingerprints.
These sticker plates work based on a vacuum seal.
Similar to these silicone disks and mats that even stick to a vertical window quite well.
The key to good bed adhesion is with the nozzle temp!
The bed temp should be just under the softening temp of the filament.
If the extrusion temp is too high the filament is like goo and won’t require much force at all to be squished onto the plate.
On the end of the scale, if the nozzle temp is too low you might end with trapped air between the lines…
If way too cold the filament just won’t stick at all…
You need the flow ratio to be proper so that you get a perfectly filled first layer, mirror finish so to say.
Print some test squares and stop the print after 3 or 4 layers.
Use a plastic scraper to check how well (or not) a square sticks.
If they pop up with a little push you need to tweak things a bit more.
Ideally they should be stuck on the bed until it starts to cool down and you have to lift up a corner to make them come off.
AVOID filled filaments, especially glow or metal filled ones as they wear out the surface quickly.

If we check the many choice we have to wonder which surface might be the best for a certain filament.
Thing is that none of them actually bond.
So as long as the vacuum effect works you left with actual physical properties of the filament defining what the strongest possible adhesion will be.
Shrinking and warping filaments should be avoided on sticker plates unless you can afford the time and filament for the required fine tuning.
ABS for example does work quite well on those sticker plates, even without a brim.
But getting to the point where it actually works can take time and filament.
In case you do a lot in fibre filled filaments that need a high temp give Tk99 / Fr10 a try.
The surface will still wear but other than loosing some shine the adhesion won’t suffer much here.
Bonus is that you CAN polish the surface back to shine.
Not sure if it worth the labour time but on a hobby level quite worth it.
On a business level it should be considered a consumable.
Which means for those clamping plate you should consider the time and hassle factor.
It is best to leave the plate in place and thing cool down naturally.
Otherwise the clamps have to come off and either way it requires more time than any steel based plate.