Which tape do I need for my 3D printer build platform?

All around us we see the grow­ing pres­ence of 3D print­ers and mar­vel at the cre­ations made by 3D print­ing. Two of the most com­mon ther­mo­plas­tics used for 3D print­ing are PLA and ABS. ABS in par­tic­u­lar is a favorite among engi­neers with mechan­i­cal uses in mind due to its strength, flex­i­bil­i­ty, machin­abil­i­ty, and high­er tem­per­a­ture resis­tance. polyimide-tape-for-3d-printing-abs-plastic This last point, the high­er tem­per­a­ture resis­tance, implies also that you need to use a heat­ed plat­form, often heat­ed to its max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture when work­ing with ABS. Regard­less of whether the 3D print­ing plat­form is heat­ed or not, you want to make sure that it is always lev­el to avoid headaches lat­er on. For this rea­son, it should always be cov­ered with a tape for best results. Between builds, the tape should be removed and reap­plied, mean­ing that you also want to have a tape that doesn’t leave much residue after removal. Excess adhe­sive can be cleaned with rub­bing alco­hol.

Is Kapton tape, polyimide tape or blue painter’s tape best for my 3D printing platform?

Depend­ing on the plas­tic you are print­ing, dif­fer­ent tapes can be used. ABS print­ing requires a high tem­per­a­ture resis­tant tape, and Kap­ton tape (DuPont’s brand name), or the gener­ic ver­sion poly­imide tape is the prod­uct best used for this appli­ca­tion. The rea­son poly­imide tape is so well suit­ed to the heat­ed plat­form of the 3D print­er is because it can eas­i­ly with­stand the heat­ing and the cool­ing of the plat­form. CAPLINQ man­u­fac­tures many types of poly­imide tapes, and I will lat­er out­line the best poly­imide tapes for 3D print­ing ABS plas­tic. A less expen­sive tape, often called “Blue Painter’s Tape” or blue poly­ester tape can be used for PLA print­ing since it does not need the high tem­per­a­ture resis­tance. CAPLINQ also man­u­fac­tures this blue poly­ester tape and I will rec­om­mend spe­cif­ic prod­ucts in a lat­er sec­tion. If you are going to be using your 3D print­er for both ABS print­ing and PLA print­ing and only want to use one tape, then you should use the poly­imide tape, as it can be used for both print­er appli­ca­tions.

High Temperature Polyimide Tape for 3D Printing of ABS Plastic

CAPLINQ man­u­fac­tures a wide range of poly­imide tapes, each with dif­fer­ent back­ing thick­ness­es, adhe­sive types, release lin­ers and treat­ment lay­ers. When doing 3D print­ing of ABS how­ev­er, what you should be con­cerned about with your poly­imide tape is:

  • Make sure it is thick enough. 2 mil is a per­fect thick­ness for the heat cycles and to ensure a smooth work­ing sur­face.
  • Make sure it can with­stand high tem­per­a­tures
  • Make sure it doesn’t bub­ble when applied
  • Make sure that it removes eas­i­ly and that residues come off eas­i­ly with rub­bing alco­hol

With these cri­te­ria in mind, these are the prod­ucts that are rec­om­mend­ed for the 3D print­er plat­form when print­ing ABS plas­tic. Each of them are avail­able as “Jum­bo Rolls” that are 508mm (20 inch­es) wide that you can slit your­self, or you can order them pre-slit to your desired widths:

  • PIT2S: This prod­uct is sim­ply a 2-mil poly­imide tape with a low residue adhe­sive
  • PIT2S-RL: This is the same as the PIT2S except it is on a stand-alone release lin­er
  • PIT2N: This prod­uct is the same as the PIT2S, but has no adhe­sive at all

High(ish) Temperature Polyester Tape (a sort of blue painter’s tape) for 3D Printing of PLA Plastic

PLA does not require the high tem­per­a­ture resis­tance of ABS print­ing. You also do not need to have the same thick­ness as with poly­imide. In most cas­es (prob­a­bly all, but I may not be think­ing of it just now), PET1S: 1 mil blue poly­ester tape with low adhe­sive will be per­fect. As with the poly­imide tape, we offer it in jum­bo rolls of 508mm (20 inch­es), or you can have it pre-slit to your spe­cif­ic sizes.

For more infor­ma­tion, you can con­sult our com­plete list of poly­imide tapes, or you can com­pare our poly­imide films and tapes. Should you have any oth­er ques­tions, please con­tact us or vis­it the CAPLINQ web­site today to find out more, or for more infor­ma­tion.

About Chris Perabo

Chris is an energetic and enthusiastic engineer and entrepreneur. He is always interested in taking highly technical subjects and distilling these to their essence so that even the layman can understand. He loves to get into the technical details of an issue and then understand how it can be useful for specific customers and applications. Chris is currently the Director of Business Development at CAPLINQ.

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