Polypropylene build surface review



  • Hello,

    I want to share my experience with a Polypropylene build surface, because when I was looking into buying one I couldn't find much information in the form of reviews.

    The build plate is a 235mm x 235mm x 3mm sheet designed for an Ender 3, installed on my DIY machine.

    Performance with different materials:

    • PLA - the hardest to get good adhesion but possible if you have a flat bed/good compensation, 55 Celcius bed, <20mm/s first layer

    • PETG - outstanding performance with a range of filaments including ColourFabb XT, 70 Celsius bed, <30mm/s first layer parts stick very well then pop off with ease once the temperature drops below 60.

    • Polycarbonate (Polymaker Polymax PC) - Outstanding performance. At 100 Celsius bed I can print without rafts and brims for most parts, one or two awkward models have needed small brims.

    • Polypropylene - testing soon but should be the ideal build surface.

    • Nylon - testing soon and will update.

    If like me, you want to move away from using PLA filament and don't want to faff around with tape, hairspray, glue or any other magic potions, PP buildplates are a good option.

    Performance with the Duet IR sensor is flawless.

    Build plate can easily be scratched, but if you can wait a few minutes for it to cool, parts pop right off.

    Wipe with IPA between prints.



  • I'm using PP build plates for 10+ years already and they are awesome for PP and PE (hdpe and ldpe) but are really crap for anything else compared to alternatives like printbite. They are super sensitive to nozzle height and are easily damaged, that's' the main issue with PP, nothing really sticks to PP (other than pp and pe) so that's why you can easily remove when cold, but it is one of the easiest to damage surface out there. Note, with PP/PE it will bond too good, you need to print with a decent distance.



  • @arhi there ist a mamorubot PP Plate which is some PP resin compound. It works well for me with PLA at slightly higher temps.



  • @oliof said in Polypropylene build surface review:

    @arhi there ist a mamorubot PP Plate which is some PP resin compound. It works well for me with PLA at slightly higher temps.

    I tried many different PP plates (some "called PP but have less than 10% PP in them") as I printed a lot of PP/PE back in the day (was the only filament available locally and importing filament was extremly complicated and expensive ... PP/PE printing is what got me in the RepRape core team 😄 ) and PP/PE won't stick to anything else (kapton, painters, glass with glue, spray... nothing really works ok) so PP sheets are the best way to go... I don't print too much PP these days and these days when I need to print PP I use Kai's idea to print on carpet tape and it's safest and easiest out of anything I tried so far. Using PP plate for other materials works, as I said, nothing sticks permanently to PP so if you heat it up you will have temp. bond that will be easily broken after part cools off... but PP sheet itself is very easily destroyed and that's imo serious issue when you have stuff that is almost indistructable and work same/better.



  • @arhi I have noticed the sensitivity to nozzle height, but using the IR height sensor thats not been a problem.

    I looked into surfaces like print bite and saw people struggling with IR height sensor accuracy. For me PP was the best combination of materials compatibility and compatibility with the height sensor.

    Thanks for the heads up on PP filament adhesion. Do you know if I can reduce the adhesion to acceptable levels by lowering or turning off the heatbed?



  • @nbGU you could always use hairspray as a separation agent....



  • I have a Cubex Duo printer than came with an unheated white plastic build surface that I suspect is PP. It also came with a bottle of glue. I have used glue stick on it and found PLA and ABS stick to it just fine. It is a soft surface and easily damaged.



  • @nbGU said in Polypropylene build surface review:

    I looked into surfaces like print bite and saw people struggling with IR height sensor accuracy.

    hm it comes in yellow and black, matt and glossy, some of those should work with IR height sensor easily .. anyhow I personally like mechanical sensors as all the capacitive, inductive, optical ones I tried shown to be unreliable; so bltouch on some and piezo on others but never had any issues with them.

    as for printbite and any other surface, they have their manufacturers to advocate for them and do proper marketing, I'm just saying that compared that whats out there that's not that easily destroyed but a simple mistake like PP sheet would, PP is not bringing anything new to the table.

    I was rather surprised when they started pushing PP as a "universal print surface" 🙂 but hey, if it works for you 🙂

    Thanks for the heads up on PP filament adhesion. Do you know if I can reduce the adhesion to acceptable levels by lowering or turning off the heatbed?

    Just like any other adhesion - lift the head bit higher, drop the temp a bit and adhesion will be lower. The problem with PP is that it warps like a mother. You want good adhesion with the bed. Unfortunately, that kills the PP film quickly. Raft is rather good and safe option.

    Dunno how much exp. you have with PP and why you wanna use PP at all, but look at this image from 2009. for e.g.

    https://elco.crsndoo.com/rapman/img_1231.jpg
    https://elco.crsndoo.com/rapman/img_i236.jpg

    you see PP raft on PE surface, you see that even a rather small object (that head is 25-30mm wide, can't check exact measurements as my STL was removed from Thingiverse due to Disney asking them to, but it's approx 25-30mm) is trying to warp so much that it's ripping the raft from the surface.

    Somewhere around 2010 Kai Parthy suggested printing on carpet tape and that changed everything for me. The average two side sticky TESA carpet tape (so not the foamy double sided sticky tape but that thin 0.1mm tape sticky on both sides, they sell it as carpet-tape as you'd use it to stick edges of your carpet to your floor so it does not lift or allow carpet to move .. ). You stick the carpet tape to whatever your print surface is (directly on aluminium surface in my case) and you print directly on the carpet tape. Tape is sticky enough to hold on to PP/PE, the tape and the glue survive 70C bed temp without a problem and 210-220C of nozzle for the first layer. Tape is for single use only of course but is cheap enough that it's not a big deal. Tape is strong enough you can even print 65mm long mendel leg in PP on non-heated (cold) bed without warping!!!



  • @arhi I must admit I was expecting the PP build plate to be poor at best for most materials but I think its brilliant, and cheap enough that I don't mind replacing it if I damage it.

    Thanks for the tips, I'll do the usual tuning to dial in the PP but be sure to start on the side of not sticking enough.

    I do a lot of prototyping both through my day job and on the side, I'm sure PP will come in handy at some point (living hinges for example). Im basically just trying to add as many materials options as I can, and to do this without the need for multiple different build plates or to have to use adhesives, tapes, hairspray etc.


Log in to reply