In these “Model T” days of 3D printing, which we will someday look back at fondly once everything is figured out, I spend more time than you might think tweaking, replacing, fixing things to make my printers work better.

You’ve read about a number of these changes, especially on my 8-foot-tall Cerberus 3D Gigante 3D printer, which Steve Graber made after I asked him, “Can you make a really big 3D printer?”

I wrote in a previous post about trying to create a heated bed on this monster, with its 34″ print tray. Well, the heating pads just weren’t cutting it, so I came up with an entirely different solution and this time – I’m knocking on wood right now – I think I’ve figured it out ….

The heating pads were an ingenious attempt, but it turned out they weren’t nearly warm enough to really make a difference.

The problem I was trying to solve, BTW, is preventing my large prints from popping off or not sticking to the print bed. With these large 3D prints, I would also sometimes have problems with the outer edges of the bases curling up a bit. The middle of the sculpture’s base would stay adhered well enough that I could proceed with the print, but when it finished printing, I’d find the outer corners had risen.

My Cerberus 3D 250 3D printer has a heated tray. My CubeX has one now, too, now that I retrofitted it with one. It really makes a difference.

I was on the right track with the heating pads, but they just weren’t getting the actual bed hot enough.

So I did what any self-respecting tinkerer would do: began searching online for something that could keep my giant 3D printer’s print bed hot enough.

I found a company that made industrial heated silicone pads that agreed to make me one, even though they usually work with much larger companies for much larger applications. Then it turned out that they couldn’t deliver.

I found another company that quoted me $150 to make me one. That was an amazing price, so I jumped on it. Unfortunately, the price was a typo – they left off a zero by mistake. There was no way I was going to pay $1500 for a heating pad.

Then a guy who worked with heating coils offered to help.

He made the coils for me, sold me them and a controller, and gave me complete information on how to create a bed out of drywall for the coils to snake through.

I cut the drywall to fit my printer, making it a little smaller than the 34″ diameter. I’d never printed anything to the edge anyway. I then added raised areas for the coil to snake through and painted the whole thing black to seal the drywall.

Then Steve Graber helped me set everything up.

Voila! I’ve printed a couple of pieces since installation and didn’t need to lay down any painter’s tape, which is always a pain to remove. The sculptures have stuck to the tray like gum to a shoe!

I still have occasional issues (“Why in the hell did the printer just stop printing in the middle of a job?! Aaargh!”), but I think I have the adherence to the print tray issue figured out.