G10 Is The 3D Print Surface You Crave

Print surfaces have been a major part of 3D printer development and experimentation since the beginning. [Makers Muse] has been experimenting with G10, a cheap high-pressure fiberglass laminate, and found that it’s an excellent candidate for most of your FDM printing needs. (Video embedded after the break.)

You’re probably more familiar with the fire-resistant version of G10, FR-4, the fiberglass substrate used for most PCBs. It’s also known by the brand name Garolite. [Makers Muse] tested with PLA, PETG (on his headphone build), ABS, ASA, PET, PCTG, and nylon. All the materials displayed excellent bed adhesion when heated to the appropriate temperature, and would often self-release the part as it cooled down. For TPU, the bed was left unheated to prevent it from sticking too well. 0.5 mm, 1.5 mm, and 3 mm G10 sheet thicknesses were tested, and [Makers Muse] found 1.5 mm to be the perfect balance between rigidity, and flexibility for removing particularly sticky prints.

G10 has been used in some commercial 3D printers, but there is very little information regarding its use beyond high-temperature materials like nylon. It leaves an excellent surface finish on the bottom of parts, as long as you take care not to scratch the bed. Compared to glass, its lower weight is advantageous for printers where the bed moves for the Y-axis. Another major advantage is the low cost, especially compared to some of the more exotic bed materials.

The results certainly look very promising, and we are keen to get our hands on some G10 for our own printers. If you have trouble finding it for sale, check out your local knife-making suppliers, who sell it as handle materials.

43 thoughts on “G10 Is The 3D Print Surface You Crave

    1. Might be interesting to bond (glue) it to a piece of steel sheetmetal for the magnetic surface on a MK3S. There might be issues with different coefficients of expansion between the G10 and metal though…

    2. I use it on a Bear clone using a MK52 bed. I have a piece of G10 about 0.02in thick using some 3M 300SLE tape and it works phenomenal. Almost everything I print (besides Polypropylene) sticks to fairly well. Giving a quick scuff with 220grit sand paper and cleaning it with alcohol will allow you to print PLA and PETG with no glue stick or hair spray or any other bed adhesive, same for some nylons. 3DXtech Carbon Nylon works with very well.

      The company I work for makes G10 FR4 in various thicknesses and sizes to suit any need.

      1. I never (intentionally) remove my print surface, so what you say does not compute to me. But then, I’ve never had trouble removing prints. A quick tap with a wooden block to a utility knife blade, and they come off every time. Having the heater integral to the print surface means fast heating and no hot spots where it made better thermal contact with the base plate. But if it must be removable, then, you know, quick-disconnects?

    1. This is the first thing that popped into my mind. Just need a decent connector to be able to remove it easily. Could probably have a magnetized plate underneath so it sits as flat a possible. The magnets would pull on the copper traces. And PCBs are fairly cheap to replace these days…

  1. I’ve never used anything but PEI since I bought my first printer more than 4 years ago. I now have a second printer and multiple different print plates but all are PEI based and I’ve never seen a problem except for ASA. (I print ABS, ASA, PCTG, PETG).
    (Well you can’t use powdered PEI plate with ABS but it’s a very well known fact and powdered PEI is kinda still a novelty anyway.)

    And here I learn that people still use glass plates, gluesticks, and whatnot… everything I thought of as a history from a decade ago.

    Does PEI have any problems with common filaments that I have somehow not encountered that there are so many other available print surfaces?

    1. From what I’ve read about PEI, both powdered and not, it still causes lots of problems for some people and has restrictions on what you can use to clean it (water is out, and so is acetone). I’m glad it’s working so well for you, but it seems far to fickle for my tastes. I’m well past the I-don’t-mind-tinkering-on-and-repairing-my-printer-daily phase and just want things to work with as little effort and care as possible. My hobby isn’t 3D printing anymore. My hobby has shifted back to making things. The printer is just another tool, and hopefully it’s a reliable one.

      I think that’s why a lot of people still use older techniques from before your time. They’re reliable (for them) and require less fuss so they can get on with making things.

      1. water is out? Damn, my Voron v2.4 must have some special properties, I only clean my BIQU flex plate PEI with soap and water, love it, so sticky when hot, not sticky when cool. Printed probably 400 dumpster fires for last christmas’s Etsy rush.

        1. Well I’m just going by what I’ve read. I don’t have any PEI myself. The Prusa website says water will seep and cause the PEI to flake off due to rust. Your mileage may vary.

          1. That’s only true with powder coated PEI, not sheets. But even then, it’s not a problem – I use both sheet and powder coated PEI, and rubbing alcohol is all I need to clean it.

      2. I use 90% isopropyl. Works fantastic for me.

        From Prusa:

        PEI print surface preparation

        To achieve the best adhesion of the print surface, it is vital to keep it clean. The best option when printing with ABS, PLA and many other materials is Isopropyl alcohol (always use IPA 90%+), which can usually be bought at your local drugstore. PETG is an exception – the adhesion may be too strong for it. For PETG, we recommend using a separating agent (e.g. a glue stick). For more information on how to print with PETG, check out our extensive guide.

        From Luzbotl:

        3.4 PEI Surface

        After repeated use, the PEI print surface will begin to need cleaning. To clean the PEI print surface, wipe clean with Isopropyl Alcohol and a clean cloth. If you encounter prints lifting from the PEI surface, use a fine grit sandpaper, typically 2000-2500 grit to clean the PEI print surface. We do not recommend printing on bare glass, as it can lead to glass bed damage or failure.

      3. I’m totally in the PEI-is-problem-free camp. But:

        1) I clean it with alcohol between prints. Denatured or everclear doesn’t seem to matter, but clean with ethanol. And don’t eat pizza before removing your prints. You want to keep the grease off.

        2) Watch out for things that stick too hard. PETG comes to mind. The solution is lower bed temp and _maybe_ a little less squoosh on the first layer than you’re used to. But once you get it figured, it’s super reliable.

    2. I’ve had PEI (just sheets of it, held on with kapton tape, for years and years and the only time I had an adhesion problem was when I thought I’d use up some left over alcohol wipes and didn’t realize they were ‘skin safe’ and had aloe in them. That stuff basically seasoned the bed like a cast iron pan and required sanding down to remove. lol

      But seriously, it’s a trival upgrade that completely eliminates adhesion issues, with no nasty goop on anything.

    3. My 2.5yo smooth PEI sheet stopped responding to cleaning: first 99% IPA, then soap and water, next acetone, and as a last resort scotchbrite. Nothing worked. Then I noticed my jug of Fast Orange by the sink and I thought what the hell, is dead at this point and was all ready to order a new one. Holy Shit, did Fast Orange revive it like never before. I mean Madonna Like a Virgin revived.

    1. I was wondering about that. I just moved on from PrintBite+ after about a year of having endless issues with adhesion. PrintBite specifically says not to clean with isopropyl alcohol, and I think I ruined mine by cleaning it with the stuff before reading about the issue.

      1. If a little isopropyl kills it permanently, it’s not a very good material. Isopropyl is a staple cleaner for many/most 3D printing processes. Can’t do resin without it, and lots of FDM beds do better with it. That seems like an enormous oversight. I would have thought it would have been written all over the build plate. You have my sympathy.

      2. Two things I learned about PrintBite cleaning are to use plain old window glass cleaner (Windex-D) and only clean it when cold. If you clean it when hot, adhesion suffers. I don’t know why.

        It’s not ruined, just let it cool and clean it again.

  2. Please be safe, not sorry…

    Be really careful when cutting any sort of fiberglass-reinforced material. The dust is dangerous long-term if it is inhaled and/or it gets in your eyes. For example inhaled fiberglass particles lodge in your lungs for life and can eventually cause lung cancer, even many years later. Excerpting from [1]:

    “G-10 is generally safe to handle outside of extreme conditions. Hazards can result from cutting or grinding the material, as glass and epoxy dust are well known to contribute to respiratory disorders and increase the risk of developing lung cancer. For any work of this kind, the work space should be appropriately ventilated and masks or respirators must be worn. Epoxy resin is flammable and, once set on fire, will burn violently, giving off poisonous gases. Therefore similar materials like FR-4 containing flame retardant additives have replaced G-10 in many applications.”

    At 08:52 in his video [2] I think [Makers Muse] is being unsafe in the way he is cutting his G10 sheet. When I cut FR-4 PCBs (also like G10 fiberglass-reinforced epoxy), I use a similar scoring technique but I do it outdoors with the work piece down-wind of me. I also wet-down all surfaces and tools to trap particulates. When sanding I use wet-dry sandpaper which is (obviously) wet.

    For quick-simple cuts I wear a real N95 mask and non-ventilated laboratory eye goggles (cheap & easy on Amazon). I wear gloves or wash my hands when finished. Rinse off the work piece when done. For more complex work, especially when using power tools I wear a 3M #6200H Half Facepiece Respirator ($34.11 each [3]) with 3M 7093B P100 Particulate Filters ($19.30 2-pack [4]), plus the non-ventilated goggles. (Yeah like everything else now, those prices were half as much pre-pandemic.)

    When buying a respirator try doing it in person. The Distributor should have pre-sterilized samples (or bring a handi-wipe) in several sizes you can try on to check the seal. If you buy online you can test the seal yourself using one of the procedures described in [5]. If the mask doesn’t seal well, hopefully it is returnable. (Sadly if opened, respirators are usually not returnable.) In my experience after working in respirator-mandatory environments, if you are an average-size/weight male or female adult, a 3M medium-sized respirator will probably seal OK. The medium size may not be the most comfortable for you long-term, but it will probably seal anyway.

    * References:

    1. G-10 (Material) – Hazards:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G-10_(material)#Hazards

    2. 08:52 in the video where [Makers Muse] is cutting his G10 sheet:

    https://youtu.be/g0PK4oXbJT8?t=532

    3. 3M™ #6200/07025 Half Facepiece Respirator Reusable NIOSH Aprvd $34.11 each:

    https://www.fastenal.com/products/details/1001892

    4. 3M™ 7093B P100 Particulate Filters $19.30 2-pack:

    https://www.fastenal.com/products/details/1021288

    5. 3M™ Center for Respiratory Protection – Overview of the Fit Testing Process:

    https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/respiratory-protection-us/support/center-for-respiratory-protection/fit-testing/

    1. I don’t work for OSHA, but, scoring and snapping fiberglass doesn’t put up any dust worth mentioning. I think it’s relatively safe. Plus, it’s a lot easier/faster/cleaner than dremeling it.

      But FG dust is a problem, which is why I etch circuit boards with chemicals, and mill carbon fiber under a stream of water.

      1. @Elliot Williams said: “I don’t work for OSHA, but, scoring and snapping fiberglass doesn’t put up any dust worth mentioning.”

        “…worth mentioning?” A microscopic shard of glass-fiber stuck in your lung is likely to be there for the rest of your life; and with every breath it causes damage, which can accumulate. Thar’s not to say your body will not reject/eject the foreign object, it’s surprisingly good at that. But when it comes to things like glass fiber, which chemically appears as inert, the outcomes vary. I’m not some sort of irrational brain-washed tech-hating environmentalist – far from it. But when it comes to hard-working with fiberglass-reinforced materials, I choose to use an abundance of caution.

  3. I first heard of using G10/FR4 (ok, we all just referred to it generally as garolite which is just band-aid / adhesive bandage situation) around 2013 in the seemecnc forums. Glass beds and aqua net hair spray were one of the top recommendations for for ABS prints while PEI knowledge was just starting to tendril through communities. Garolite was usually brought up in regards to using nylon, and wasn’t being recommended at the time I think largely because we didn’t have test results using thicker sheets like this video.

  4. I’ve been using G-10 for a couple weeks now, and it is terrific. Love it, great results with PLA and TPU. Prints stick nicely, PLA just comes right off after the bed has cooled. TPU needs a little alcohol but comes off well after that.

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