Improved Flexible Build Plate For SLA Is Ready To Rock

The Elegoo Mars is an affordable SLA (resin-based) 3D printer, and there are probably few that have seen more mods and experimentation than [Jan Mrázek]’s machine. The final design of his DIY flexible build plate is a refinement of his original proof of concept, which proved a flexible build platform can be every bit as useful on an SLA printer as it is for FDM; instead of chiseling parts off a rigid build platform, simply pop the flexible steel sheet off the magnetic base and flex it slightly for a much easier part removal process. His original design worked, but had a few rough edges that have since been ironed out.

[Jan]’s magnetic build platform.
We love how [Jan] walks through all of the design elements and explains what worked and what didn’t. For example, originally he used a galvanized steel sheet which was easy enough to work with, but ended up not being a viable choice because once it’s bent, it stays bent. Spring steel is a much better material for a flexible build platform, but is harder for a hobbyist to cut.

Fortunately, it’s a simple job for any metal fabrication shop and [Jan] got a variety of thicknesses cut very cheaply. It turns out that the sweet spot is 0.3 mm (although 0.2 mm is a better choice for particularly fragile parts.) [Jan] also suggests cutting the sheet a few millimeters larger than the build platform; it’s much easier to peel the sheet off the magnetic base when one can get a fingertip under an edge, after all.

The magnetic base that the steel sheet sticks to is very simple: [Jan] converted a stock build platform by mounting an array of 20 x 20 x 1 mm magnets with 3M adhesive mounting tape. He was worried that resin might seep in between the magnets and cause a problem, perhaps even interfering with the adhesive; but so far it seems to be working very well. Resin is viscous enough that it never penetrates far into the gaps, and no effect on the adhesive has been observed so far.

Watch how easily parts are removed in the short video embedded below, in which [Jan] demonstrates his latest platform design.

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Flexible Build Platforms Work For FDM, How About SLA?

Flexible steel sheets as the foundation for build platforms are used to great advantage in FDM 3D printers. These coated sheets are held flat by magnets during printing, and after printing is done the sheet (with print attached) can be removed and flexed to pop the prints free. This got [Jan Mrázek] thinking. He was pretty sure the concept could extend to the build platform on his Elegoo Mars resin printer. With a flexible build platform, troublesome prints could be more easily removed, so he non-destructively modified his printer to have a similar system. [Jan] is clear that this is only a proof of concept, but the test results were good! He printed several jobs that were known to be trouble, and they were all a piece of cake to remove.

[Jan]’s mod consists of a 3D printed, two-piece unit that encapsulates the normal build platform and contains a few strong magnets. A thin sheet of steel sticks flat to this new piece, held in place by the magnets within, and becomes the new build platform. After a print is done, the sheet is removed and [Jan] reports that its flexibility is a big help in removing otherwise troublesome prints, such as the 3D printed solder stencil we covered recently.

[Jan] provides his CAD model but doesn’t really recommend using it for anything other than development work. Results were promising, but there are a number of drawbacks to the prototype. For one thing, it makes the build platform thicker and the Z-axis limit switch needs to be physically lowered in order to zero the unit. Also, the thicker build platform means the volume of resin the build tank can hold is reduced. Still, the idea clearly has merit and shows there absolutely is value in hardware having a hackable design.