We were looking for a while at alternatives to using various kinds of tapes to cover the build plate of a 3D printer that can provide good adhesion, easy removal and most of all to be more durable, so that we won’t have to replace it often. One such solution that we have found out about is the BuidTak 3D printing surface that is essentially a specially developed thin plastic sheet that you stick on top of your build plate. This 3D printing surface is supposed to provide an optimal printing surface for 3D objects to adhere to for the duration of a print, while allowing for a clean, easy removal of completed builds. It is heat-resistant, so that you should be able to use it for ABS printing as well if you have a 3D printer with a heated build platform and not only PLA.


A single sheet of BuildTak should be more durable than any kind of tape and the price is affordable enough if the surface proves to be durable enough for making a lot of prints before having to replace it. The surface is available in multiple pre-cut sizes including rectangle, square and circle shapes that should fit on most FFF/FDM 3D printers available and if the size you need is not available you can go for a larger one and then cut the extra. We got two sheets with size of 292×165 mm (6.5″ x 11.5″) at $12 USD per sheet, this is the size needed for the build plate of the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer that use use with just a bit needed to be cut at one of the sides after applying the surface to the build platform.


Sticking the BuildTak 3D printing surface to the build plate of the 3D printer is a bit tricky, it is a lot like when installing a screen protector on a mobile phone or a tablet. You need to be careful and to remove air bubbles while sticking the surface and not trying to remove them after that as it will be very hard or impossible. Our first installation was less than perfect and we’ve had a few air bubbles left, good thing that we have ordered a spare sheet. Do note that after applying the BuildTak you will need to re-level the build plate as the height of the new 3D printing surface is probably going to be a little more than that of the tape that you have used before. Make sure you level the build plate properly by doing a test print, we have found out that printing a SIM card adapter does a great job for testing the proper leveling and is quick to print and uses little filament.

After applying the BuildTak 3D printing surface we have started printing using different filaments. No problems when using PLA – the printed part sticks well and is easy to remove, not that we expected otherwise, so we have moved to other more problematic filaments. Going for ABS on our 3D printer without a heated build platform we have observed the expected warping of the base of the printed part resulting in the object not being able to adhere to the build surface for long. We have then tried Bendlay filament, something that we had trouble printing on our Replicator 2 using the 3M ScotchBlue tape – we had trouble having the material to stick no matter what settings we have tried. With the BuildTak installed however we had no trouble printing using Bendlay filament, it was sticking quite well with very minor warping that we have observed at the very edges of the test prints – something that can easily be overlooked as the prints were fine in general. Next up was the T-glase filament that we also had trouble printing with on the standard blue painters tape, however the situation was not as good as with Bendlay here. It certainly was better than with the painters tape before, but still not good enough adhesion – we may have to play some more to find the best settings for printing T-Glase on the BuildTak.

We are going to continue playing with the BuildTak 3D printing surface printing with different filaments, but so far we are already seeing better results than when using various tapes for covering the build plate. Another good thing that we have also observed when using the BuildTak surface is that the bottom of the 3D printed parts is that it is smoother to the touch and a bit better looking as compared to when using painters tape.


We have written about the GeckoTek 3D Printer Build Plate a while ago as it was an interesting alternative to using various kinds of tapes to cover your 3D printer’s build plate. The project started on Kickstarter, but since we have missed backing it up then we have purchased a kit for our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer back in November last year hoping to get it in early 2015. It seems that the actual production of the build plates has suffered numerous delays and things have just stated happening in the last few days according to the updates on the Kickstarter project page. Apparently there is no chance to have a single solution that will be suitable for different kinds of 3D printers and with different materials.

Based on the information published in the latest updates apparently the current version is suitable for PLA and non-heated build platform devices, ABS and heated build platforms will probably require a bit different coating and we may actually see these available in the summer this year. GeckoTek may start shipping PLA versions of the build plates to backers that will be using them on devices that use this kind of filament only. Unfortunately this goes only for Kickstarter backers that have priority before customers like us that have purchased a kit from the official product website. What we are not happy with so far regarding the GeckoTek is that they are not sending any news and updates to actual customers that have purchased and paid up front for their product and updates are only published on their Kickstarter page.

At the moment we would not advice anyone to purchase a GeckoTek 3D printer build plate for the moment directly from the official website of the product, better wait until the company actually has fulfilled the Kickstarter orders first and starts shipping actual products to new customers. Meanwhile we are already looking for various alternatives that are already available on the market providing more durable surface for 3D printing on, good adhesion and easy removal of the printed parts. One such alternative that we are already testing is the BuildTak 3D printing surface and you can expect our first impressions from using it very soon.


When talking about affordable 3D printers we often mean device that use the most common FDM/FFF technology for extruding thermoplastic materials, a good start for a first 3D printer. Sooner or later you start thinking about upgrading to a better quality and then the next step is SLA or Stereolitography 3D printer, but when you reach to that point you will notice that there are actually not that many devices targeted at consumers that are affordable priced. This is however about to change with SLA technology getting more attention and available products and one such upcoming product is the Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer from XYZPrinting that should be available for $1499 USD. We have already mentioned the company with their affordable da Vinci 3D printers.


The XYZPrinting Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer uses liquid resin material that is being solidified by a laser resulting in the 3D printed model that you want to make. The Stereolitogaphy technology allows for achieving higher detail levels and the printed parts do have different mechanical properties than what the commonly used ABS and PLA thermoplastics used by FFF/FDM 3D printers. The Nobel 1.0 as well as with many other more affordable SLA 3D printers is that they have a more limited build volume, here it is 128x128x200 mm. So do not expect to be able to print very large objects with this device, though the build volume is not that small and you can also split larger models in smaller parts that will be joined after the printing. One interesting thing about the Nobel 1.0 3D printer is that it comes with an auto refill system that will automatically keep the liquid resin level in the printer’s tank by adding more when needed, so no need to monitor the level and manually pour additional resin.

XYZPrinting Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D Printer Specifications
– Print Technique: SL (Stereolithography Apparatus)
– Dimension: 11″ x 13.2″ x 23.2″ (280 x 337 x 590 mm)
– Weight: 21.2 lbs (9.6 KG)
– Maximum creation size (WxDxH): 5″ x 5″ x 7.9″ (128 x 128 x 200 mm)
– Layer Thickness: X/Y Axis Resolution: 0.3mm (300 Microns), Z Axis: 0.025mm (25 Microns), 0.05mm (50 Microns), 0.1mm(100 Microns)
– Display: 2.6″ FSTN LCM
– Connectivity: USB wire, USB Stick
– Material Properties: Photopolymer Resin
– Software: File Type .stl, XYZ format (.3w)
– Operating System: Windows 7+ (for PC), Mac OX 10.8, 10.9 (for Mac)

The Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer is already listed on the XYZPrinting website, but is not yet available to order. Another thing that is important regarding the device is the availability and price of the liquid resin (photopolymer) that the printer uses for building the 3D printed parts from. This material is also more expensive than thermoplastic filaments, so it is important for an affordable SLA-based 3D printer to also come with a good price and wide availability of liquid resin materials to use along with it. These are however still not officially announced and there is also no pricing information about the resin used by the Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer yet, though the device will most likely be also compatible with resins for other similar devices as well.

For more details about the XYZPrinting Nobel 1.0 affordable SLA 3D printer…