I was sitting here beside my Ender 3, wondering what the best way to insulate a 3D printer would be. This is especially desired if your 3D prints are taking way too long to heat up, mainly with ABS prints.
Having an insulated bed on your 3D printer is a neat upgrade that has helped out several 3D printer users over the years. Temperature and heating is used all the time with these machines, so this article will look at heated bed insulation and how to install it.
Aluminum insulation mats with foam are a great method to insulate a 3D printer hotbed. They significantly cut heating times, distribute heat more evenly, and keep temperatures more stable which can even reduce warping. Some use cardboard, cork sheets or a basic enclosure to improve insulation.
To install a hotbed insulation square you simple need to attach it to the bottom of your hotbed, making sure it is the correct size for your 3D printer’s bed.
The benefits of having a heated bed are:
- Saves time on heating up your print bed
- More even heat distribution around the bed
- Saves money on having to use more power to heat the bed and keep it hot
- Helps to keep temperatures more stable
- Can reduce warping
Best Ways to Insulate Your 3D Printer Heat Bed
Firstly, you need to check how much space you actually have underneath your print bed. Some machines are going to have large gaps which mean you can choose from many options, while others have very little space, so options are limited.
You also don’t want the added insulation to be getting in the way of any parts of your 3D printer, like wires or bearings. Also, since the material will be working with quite high heats, they should have a good amount of heat-resistance to withstand long-term use.
Sticking the insulation material to the bed works in different ways. Some materials have self-adhesives to help stick it down, while others will require a separate adhesive. Good choices in this case are an adhesive spray, or heat-resistance tape.
Materials that 3D printer hobbyists use are:
- FYSETC Self-Adhesive Aluminum Insulation Mat
- Cork Sheets
- Plumber’s Felt
- Use an Enclosure
Those closed-cell types of foam seem to work really well for most people since they can keep a lot more heat in as compared to something like single-walled cardboard.
These lightweight insulation mats work really well to keep your 3D printer beds warm throughout the printing process. Rather than have your print bed overcompensate for a cool room, and require extra heating, we can keep that heat in better.
The Befenybay Self-Adhesive Insulation Mat is a great choice on Amazon, with amazing ratings and it even comes with 2 pieces. They measure up at 220 x 220 x 5mm, or you can get the bigger 300 x 300 x 5mm version if required.
This lightweight foam with aluminum substrate is heat-resistance, durable and has fire prevention properties, allowing it to operate with temperatures from 50-150°C (122-302°F). It’s also waterproof and cold-resistant.
The instructions for this are simple:
- Clean the bottom of your hotbed
- Tear the adhesive backing from the bottom
- Stick onto the bottom of your hotbed
The benefits are also simple:
- Faster warm up
- Keeps temperature stable
- Better prints
- Durable and should remain firmly adhered to your bed
One 3D printer user who had a very slow heating bed of 10-15 minutes for 60°C, used this insulation and managed to cut the timing down to 7-10 minutes. The time saving won’t always be this dramatic, but it should cut down times.
The good thing about using cork sheets to insulate your 3D printer bed is how dense the internal structure is, being closed-cell as you can tell by the normal make-up of cork.
This is a great material to use for insulating your 3D printer bed, especially if you lack a large amount of space to use for insulation under your bed.
You can find some specially-made Cork Sheets for 3D printers on Amazon with the holes cut out, or you can get a fresh sheet and cut the whole yourself.
Cork is formed with several microscopic bubbles, which works really great as a form of insulation, even used under flooring in many cases.
Some people get cork on a roll after some type of flooring project, you can cut a piece off soak it in hot water, iron it flat, then fit it under your bed.
The better method though, is getting the cork sheets with strong adhesive on one side. One user even added to this by taping aluminum foil to the bottom of the bed with Kaptop tape, then covering the foil with cork.
If you want your bed to heat up faster while pre-heating, you can actually add a sheet of cork or even a cloth to the top of your bed to keep the heat in.
The video below shows the difference in timing to heat a bed up to 120°C before and after insulation with a cork sheet. It took the non-insulated 3D printer bed 18 minutes to heat up, while the insulated bed took just 14 minutes, a difference of 22%.
This material works really well seeing that it’s used for welding, soldering with an open flame and even brazing. It’s a very high temperature material that you can use to your benefit for 3D printing.
You can get this High-Temp Felt Plumbers Pad from Amazon for a reasonable price. It’s temperature-resistant to a whopping 1800°F (982°C), tear-resistant, while still being a soft, pliable materials.
It’s a lot easier to cut to size than other foam and insulation solutions, and the minimum smoke point for cardboard runs at around 392°F+ (200°C+) so the heat from the bed shouldn’t be a bother at all.
You don’t even really have to tape the cardboard down, you can fit a few pieces of cardboard from a box and fit it to the underside of your bed.
Some good heat tape from Amazon is the Equty Baymers Heat-Resistant Tape. It is an easy-peel solution and has a maximum heat-resistance of 482°F (250°C).
A solution that not many people actually use on their open-style 3D printers is using a good, airtight enclosure. You don’t realize how much enclosure help to keep in heat until you really start to implement one yourself.
When you use one of the above insulation solutions, along with a good quality enclosure, you can really retain plenty of heat within your 3D printer, saving you time on heating and using less power overall.
The Creality Fireproof & Dustproof Enclosure from Amazon is a great choice to insulate your 3D printer. It’s very highly-rated, with a rating of 4.6/5.0 at time of writing, and does a great job keeping a stable temperature.
The installation is quick and easy, with the ability to fold it for simple storage. You can easily reduce dust build-ups and reduce the overall noise of your 3D printer with this enclosure.
For people struggling with various 3D printing issues, you might want have wanted more guidance towards getting ideal 3D printing results. I created a course that's available to get called Filament Printing 101: Beginner's Guide to Filament Printing that takes you through some of the best 3D printing practices early on, so you can avoid those beginner mistakes.