I’ve been using a GeckoTek 3D printer build plate for a couple weeks now and love it. I purchased it through their Kickstarter about a year ago. I received the plate back in March, but it wasn’t until June that I really started working on the large format printer like I’d planned.
This printer was built to have as large an area as I could. The largest size offered by GeckoTek was 12 inches square, so that’s where I started. I’m very glad they didn’t offer anything larger, as designing a reliable printer this large is more difficult than I expected. I’ve run about two dozen print jobs over the plate now and love how it works. I’ve had troubles with it twice, but was able to fix both of them by tuning my print parameters. The first problem involved small tall parts. These are always problematic, but I followed a suggestion to raise the temperature of the first layer. I bumped it up about 20C and the prints stuck well. The second issue was also related to temperature, and totally my fault. Let’s just say, when you replace the thermistor on your hot end, make sure it is identical or update the firmware accordingly.
The coolest thing about printing on the GeckoTek plate vs. glass or tape is that the first layer of the print doesn’t need to be smashed into the plate to make it stick. I tuned Slic3r to print the first layer at a normal layer height and width, and the prints still stuck well. The end result was a clean print with no deformation around the bottom edges.
According to GeckoTek, the coating is permanent, but it is not indestructible. For that reason it is important to properly calibrate your z-axis. Scrapers and razor blades are also out of the question, so if the part won’t remove easily just pick up the plate and gently flex it. It is made of spring steel and will pop back into shape.
I have tried a few large prints. The picture below shows the start of a large vase. It ended up failing because of an extruder issue, but it didn’t let loose of the build plate. The next largest was a 15″ long knife modeled after the one Geralt carries in the game The Witcher 3. It printed well and without any peeling or curling at the edges of the print.
My next step is to replace my MDF bed with a heated aluminum plate. I’d like to print stronger parts in nylon or polycarbonate and will definitely need it for that. In the meantime, I’ll be satisfied with PLA prints.
The price of the plate is around $45 for just the plate, or about double that for the plate and magnetic bed. You can find more about the technology and pricing at their website: GeckoTek3D.com.