Tuesday 5 August 2014

Kossel Mini - Heated Bed

We are finally ready to release the Heated bed kits for the Kossel Mini. It has taken a bit of time to confirm our preferred design and source the components in bulk. We have been running two test printers for almost two months now with this solution and will be writing to those who have already bought a kit shortly to offer them the upgrade first (as promised!).

Heated Bed

After investigating a number of options (PCB, Silicone heater, kapton heater on borosilicate glass, kapton heater on aluminium plate) we went for a Kapton heater on an aluminium plate.

The heater is rated at 10 A, giving an output of 120W at 12V, and supplied complete with a MF58104F3950 thermistor taped to the centre of the aluminium plate (thermistor table  on chirpy's blog.  Wires are prepared for fitting to RAMPS. We have run these heaters continuously at 125ÂșC for 24 hours on our Kossel prototypes without any problems, and find that they heat up significantly faster than standard PCB heatbeds because of the higher power density (6kW/m2 vs 3kW/m2)

The aluminium plate acts as an excellent heat spreader for the Kapton heater and is easier to mount than borosilicate glass as it can be drilled and countersunk.

This is mounted in a "sandwich" with an aluminium-foil-tape covered cardboard insulator below (thanks to nophead for this design of heat insulator from the mendel 90).

This allows for various print surfaces to be clipped onto the aluminium plate, e.g; mirror glass with glue stick for PLA, Tufnol for nylon 618 or mirror glass with ABS juice or kapton for ABS. Best of all you can use multiple mirror plates plates to quickly swap on a new one while the other one cools.

In order to keep the electronics cool we have added a fan under the heated bed, complete with splitter cable:

And redesigned the bed mounts and z-probe retractor:

In order to power the bed we decided to add a second, 10A, laptop power supply:

And a matching second socket to the USB/Power plug plate. Because some customers have decided to use an ATX or similar power supply to power the printer and the heated bed, the second 10A power supply will be an optional extra in the kits.

The Mini Kossel Documentation has been updated to describe how to fit the heatbed either during initial build or as an upgrade. It's straight forward (mostly described by the pictures above).


The T3P3 github has a slightly updated version of Marlin that we distributed with the kits so far, to include a thermistor table for the heated bed thermistor (number 11)

There are a few of things to consider when calibrating; the bed is now higher by ~10mm, and different bed (and nozzle) temperatures will lead to slightly different  Z = 0 positions due to thermal expansion. For example with a cold bed and cold hotend the Z-height was ~0.2mm lower that with a 80C bed and 225C nozzle.

The easiest way to handle this is to carry out the calibration steps (as described in my previous blog post) with the bed and hotend cold. Once the bed is level and there is no doming then you can measure the difference between Z = 0 on a cold bed and with the bed and nozzle at the centre print temperature for various materials. I measured my test printer with the heatbed between 60C and 110C and the hotend between 185C and 240C and there was <0.1mm of difference in Z height: all were ~0.2mm above the cold bed height.

I used the standard method of a piece of paper as a feeler gauge under the nozzle, stepping down by 0.1mm in Pronterface until I could feel the nozzle dragging. Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot bed! Once you have confirmed the difference (probably 0.2mm) then edit configuration.h :

#define MANUAL_Z_HOME_POS = 238.4 //cold = 238.6

and re-upload Marlin.

Z-probe retractor

The Z probe retract position will have slightly changed in X and Y and gone up in Z due to the new Z-Probe retractor

The documentation describes how to modify the Z-probe retract position in Marlin to compensate.

Extruder steps for different materials

Another thing to consider is that when using different materials, the extruder hobbed insert will bite into the filament more or less, changing the exact extruder steps per mm. With our standard mini extruder we use ~650 steps/mm for PLA. I found the following for different materials on a test printer:

ABS 660
Nylon 618

The easiest way to handle these changes is to use:

M92 E650

in your start g-code and have different start g-codes for different materials in Slic3r.

Getting one!

We will be contacting those who have already bought a Mini Kossel kit from us first and offering a discounted upgrade kit, once these orders have shipped the upgrade will be available for general purchase.

All kits sold from now will have the option of a heated bed.

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