Aerogel Insulation For 3D Printers

A heated bed is nearly essential for printing with ABS. Without it, it is difficult to keep parts from warping as the plastic cools. However, heating up a large print bed is difficult and time consuming. It is true that the printer easily heats the hot end to 200C or higher and the bed’s temperature is only half of that. However, the hot end is a small insulated spot and the bed is a large flat surface. It takes a lot of power and time to heat the bed up and keep the temperature stable.

We’ve used cork and even Reflectix with pretty good results. However, [Bill Gertz] wasn’t getting the performance he wanted from conventional material, so he got a piece of aerogel and used it as insulation. Aerogel material is a gel where a gas replaces the liquid part of the gel. Due to the Knudsen effect, the insulating properties of an aerogel may be greater than the gas it contains.

Due to a bad measurement, [Bill] had to work the gel with a hobby knife. The aerogel was the only exotic material needed. A little Kapton tape (which hardly seems exotic these days), scissors, whiteboard markers, and a hobby knife did the trick.

We’ve covered how to make your own aerogels although it takes some exotic materials and gear. There’s plenty of recipes on the Internet and YouTube (see below).

8 thoughts on “Aerogel Insulation For 3D Printers

  1. Is that aerogel? I know Aerogel as expensive and stiff. They say they used SpaceLoft, a flexible aerogel composite blanket.

    I’ve insulated my heated bed and hot end with a ceramic blanket.

    1. “ceramic blanket” how do you air it out, say throw it in the dryer or hang it outside in the sunlight?

      Ceramic airborne fibers doesn’t sound like something you can walk away from.
      Just…Just don’t move around to much.

  2. Mad respect to [Ben]. Truth be told the amount of dedication, man hours and scheduling is INSANE. 2-3 cycles that are made of 24 hour wait times, followed by another 2-3 cycles of the CO2 supercrit process.

    Mad respect to the Crew with the 3d Printers that used the Aerogel.

    This is however beyond reach of MOST hackers/hobbists/tinkers. Especially the problem with acquiring appropriate materials, lab-space, conditions, time-requirements, etc.

    We COULD just by it from Areogel site but ummm… $180 for 4×6 cm for.1.tile.? Should we wait in line for this? Question the dataplan that comes with it? Or by 3 of them because you know, might run crysis. :D

    Process might be fulfilled at bulk discount supposing you find a investor with a upfront no guarantees of 20% to fulfill the order at a economical price.

    Everyone else in the third-world. Gently wash those sheets of Asbestos and seal them in Kapton tape.
    Otherwise the most cost effective and easy to do would be to use the mass produced Peltier Cooler heater array.

    I do like this article because it is MORE then one way to do things HOWEVER cost/price point in material acquisition is not viable to other solutions.

    1. What?

      Samples in the right size-range for a typical 200mm^2 heated bed are sold for about $20 on eBay and Amazon. If they don’t want to ship to your part of the world then I am sorry about that but it’s probably a political situation that the rest of us can’t help you with.

  3. Hey all, project author here. We used Aerogel Blanket, as it was much cheaper and easier to work with than Aerogel. Since the initial write up, we found that they make a material with metal foil bonded to one side that’s far cheaper bulk by the foot (http://www.buyaerogel.com/product/cryogel-z-10-mm-cut-to-size/). You’d need a interested group for a bulk purchase as the minimum order is 5 feet. That work out to about 250 USD for enough blanket for 24 or so heated beds.

  4. Im adding to Hatadue’s necropost but what the hell, I’m not posting for the original commenting posters to read but for people reading the article now. So yes before anyone complains about the necropost, I know I’m doing it and that is why.

    I used a piece of 6mm spaceloft blanket I bought off eBay when I made my expanded y axis build plate for my simple metal printer (https://www.thingiverse.com/make:579899). It cost about with $10 shipping included. I just checked and you can get 10”x14”x 6mm pieces for $8 and 10mm thick for $9. I also used this stuff for insulating the peltier cooling plates on a Wilson cloud chamber. The aerogel blanket has worked great for both applications. To keep the dust down for the cloud chamber insulation, I sprayed it with krylon clear coat. For the build plate it is enclosed in PET tape.

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