HBP (Heated Bed)

My printer has a very large table, but since it is driven by rods and not belts the speed is very slow. As a result I made a small heat bed aprox 120 x 120mm for ABS. This gives me roughly 100 x 100 to print on. I also have onother larger bed 280 x 260 for PLA.

Most parts are small and do not require a large bed and it is easy to heat up a smaller bed to 110deg than it is to heat up a large bed. My small bed heats up in about 10 minutes to 110deg and works fantastic (I need to time it to give exact time). The large bed goes to about 70deg but struggles to go beyond that.

All my beds are made from 3mm aluminium with a 4mm glass on top. As far as I know, the glass I use is just normal glass. It breaks or shatter just like normal window glass and is easy to cut/snap using a glass cutter.

PLEASE REMEMBER: Use Safety glasses AND gloves when handling glass. When cutting it there are always VERY sharp edges and splinters can fly into your face. And if you live in a hot country , as I do, make sure you wear closed shoes. If you drop the glass on your feet/toes you will know it if you don’t wear closed shoes.

You don’t need glass on any of your beds, but it is an easy way to get the surface pretty straight. Just stick Kapton tape on to the alu plate is ok for ABS, provided the plate is straight and flat. For PLA (I have not printed with PLA yet) you can print on blue tape or directly on glass. You need to check this out on the reprap site.

I have also read that some reprappers use a mixture of water and sugar as a coating on glass when printing PLA and a glue/soup made from ABS dissolved in acetone for ABS printing. Easy to make, cheap and easy to clean. I have not used this myself but will give it a try one day. Again you need to check this out on the reprap site as well.

I don’t like to run too many amps through my Ramps board, so I connected my bed up to a relay which is controlled by the Ramps. This way the 8 to 10 amps needed to heat up the bed goes through the relay and not the Ramps. No it does not tick/click a lot as the bed is good in holding it’s temp. The glass has got a lot of mass.

I glued the resistors using JB Weld to the underside. Soldered it all together using normal solder. I have not added any insulation to the under side yet, as the bed reaches temp of 110deg fairly quickly. The glass plate is stuck on with silicon of type Permatec 26B. This is high temp silicon used in cars. If you would like to be able to remove the glass plate DO NOT USE SILICON. It sticks permanently or you can always brake it I guess.

The thermistor I stuck on top of the glass with same silicon. It measures very accurate according to my infrared thermometer but I found that measuring a large part as it prints gives me a better indication of how hot the plastic gets. I then adjust the temperature accordingly. You can’t measure directly on the glass as it will not read off the shiny surface but on the silicon.(which may well be the same temp as on glass surface). I have found that lets say I set the temp to 90degrees, there is so much heat built up in the mass of the table, that it actually continues to rise after it has been turned off. Could be as much as 15-20degrees. This way if you set it to 110 you may find that the part is actully a bit gelly like after a while, as it is 120-130 degrees hot. Not ideal. I run mine at around 85 and the part measures around 105, Placing the thermistor under the bed or glass will most likely measure the temperature the surface will eventually end up at. That is probably the way I should have mounted the thermistor.

Here are some photos of it all:

Making the large Heated Bed (for PLA)

I used some scrap 3mm aluminium and glued the resistors underneath.

Large Heated Bed – resistors glued to underside


Small 120 x 120 Heated Bed – Resistors glued to under side


Resistors to heat the small bed


High Temperature Silicon

This is the silicon I use to glue the glass onto the aluminium plate with.

Large bed, aprox 65watt. Reaches 70C but struggles to get any hotter.


My small bed with glass glued on using silicon. Looks pretty cool I reckon.


The resistors used  for the small bed are 5W 0.22 ohm x 24.

I wire them up in 2 groups of 12.

One group of 2 rows of 6 resistors in series gives me 12 x 0.22 = 2.64 ohms

Two groups of 2.64 ohms each, wired in parallell gives me 2.64 / 2 = 1.32 ohms

That gives me about 12v / 1.32 ohms = 9.09 amps (4.5 amps for each group)

Due to this high amperage I have installed a relay that is controlled by the ramps board and then the  relay switches the bed in and out. This to avoid all those amps going through my board.

If my calculations are correct that should mean that each resistor has a voltage drop of 0.22 x 4.5 =0.99V. That again gives me 0.99 x 4.5 = 4.45watt per resistor. And that is within the range of the 5w rating for the resistor. Should be safe. (4.45w x 24 = 106.92w total)

That is a total of approx 12v * 9.09 amps = 110 watt

This small table reaches operating temperature of 110C in under 10 minutes (I have to time it and put the right time here) But it is quite quick.

If you glue the resistors this way using JB weld, you will not be able to get them off again in one piece. Hammer and kiesel is the only option. So make sure you know how many to glue down. I learned the hard way. To reach 110c you need at least 100w power to heat the bed (this kind of bed).

Remember to use appropriate thick cable when powering the bed. Cable must be rated higher than the current the bed will draw. Any old extension leads should do the job. And don’t forget the plug as well. It must also be able to handle the proper current or it will burn. Getting cable from any reputable electronics store, staff should know and be able to give advice.


Jan (IceMan)


5 Responses to HBP (Heated Bed)

  1. Biggeek says:

    If you were going to make another large bed, would you paste more resistors on it, like the small bed? And is there any way to control the temp or is it always on full?

    • 3dprinterman says:

      I made 2 beds like this, small 120×120 and a larger aprox 280×260. If I wanted to make an even bigger bed then yes I would work out the requred resistors and glue them in. 200×200 is probably a good size as any printed objects larger than this would most likely warpe during print (ABS).
      To control the temp I use a thermistor that communicates with the ramps board and turns the bed on and off as required. I have used a relay since day one to control the bed, the thermistor reports back to the Ramps board and the ramps board turn on/off the relay which then turns on/off the bed. In princip it is just like any other printer out there apart from using different materials.

      • moon mountain man can swim says:

        To make it hotter i would have used less and hotter resistors if there is space in your reprap base for larger say 20w copper heatsink resistors… you can actually get 50w ones, of which four should get you to 110 degrees. i would have used arctic silver adhesive heatsink glue, although rtv silicone glue could be okay, dont know.

      • 3dprinterman says:

        Yes I know. There are many different ways of making the hotbed. I just thought the cost of the ones I used was good. At 40 cents a pop it does not break the bank.
        The ones you mention I was not able to get hold of at the time. They where also quite expensive.
        The other thing to keep in mind is the distribution of the resistors as you want the bed to be as evenly heated as possible. Don’t want hot spots. May be a problem with only 4, but I don’t know for sure as I have not used them.
        These days I only use the MK2 circuit board beds. With glass or aluminium plate on top.
        All the best

  2. I found 10 pcs of 0.1 ohm 25 watt metal cased resistors (the kind you can bolt to a heat sink) in the junk box. Connected in series they’d be 1.0 ohm. At 12 volts they would pull 12 amps for 144 watts. That would probably get a 7″x7″ bed hot enough for ABS. I have a nice flat piece of 1/8″ thick aluminum I could use for a 7″ square bed. Wonder if that would work. Does the RAMPS software do on/off cycling or PWM to control the heat? I could add an offboard power fet with a heat sink to switch the current, but would need a glass fuse (and a 15A supply to be safe!).

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