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Instructions

1. Wipe down your bare build platform making sure it is clean and free of debris.
2. Trim the BuildTak sheet to match the size of your build plate (if not already).
3. Remove the white adhesive liner and apply the BuildTak sheet to the bare build plate. Start from one edge of the build plate and work your way to the other edge, smoothing the BuildTak sheet with a credit card or decal applicator.
4. Re-level your surface and ensure that the nozzle height is properly set (usually between .10 – .25mm).

Tips: 
To ensure the longevity of the BuildTak sheet, use a spatula or putty knife with smooth/rounded corners. Avoid using solvents, such as acetone, to clean it.

Typically with other build surface solutions, such as blue masking tape or polyimide, a heavy deposit or “smoosh” is used on the first print layers. With BuildTak this is not needed.

Leveling/Nozzle Height Instructions [Visit Our Forum]

BuildTak Instruction Sheet [Download]


Frequently Asked Questions


What is BuildTak?

BuildTak is an ideal 3D printing surface for FFF 3D printers. We believe it offers a superior alternative to using masking tape or heat resistant films (such as kapton) on your FFF 3D printer’s build plate. BuildTak is a proprietary, patent-pending composition that comes in pre-cut, specially textured plastic sheets that adhere to your build platform with its heat-resistant adhesive backing.

Why do we think BuildTak is superior to masking tape and heat-resistant films?

If you have ever dealt with either masking tape or kapton, one of the more common features you will notice is that the BuildTak sheets are more rigid and therefore much easier to install or apply to the bare build plate and much less susceptible to air bubbles getting trapped beneath the surface.

BuildTak is found to be more durable in nature so it can be more effective in protecting the build plate and with proper use can significantly outlast the typical cycle time of either kapton or masking tape.

Generally does not require any special treatment or finessing (ie. the use of hair spray, acetone slurry, printing rafts, etc). Once you’ve completed the crucial step of setting the nozzle height just right, BuildTak just works. Through our experience we find that 3D printed objects stay put on the build surface for the duration of your build with fewer chances of curling. When the builds are complete, we find that builds pop right off with significantly less prying than what you are probably used to using these other alternatives.

BuildTak works for both ABS and PLA, which means that if you are using a printer that can print in either of these materials it is not necessary to change the surface between builds. Heated print beds are not a problem, BuildTak is composed of high quality raw materials and is designed to withstand the high temperatures of a typical FFF 3D printer (i.e. 110-125C heated print bed)

If/When you are ready to replace the BuildTak sheet, it comes off clean and easy in one piece, leaving no residue behind from the adhesive.

What are the best practices for ensuring the longevtiy of a BuildTak sheet?

We recommend using a spatula or putty knife with smooth/rounded corners. Avoid using objects with sharp edges or corners that will accelerate the wear and tear of your BuildTak sheet and DO NOT use heavy-duty solvents, such as acetone, to clean it – nothing stronger than rubbing alcohol.
Make sure the extruder nozzle for your FFF 3D printer is leveled and is NOT in direct contact with the BuildTak sheet. It is recommended to set your nozzle height to no less than the thickness of a standard sheet of office paper. When trying to achieve an optimal nozzle height, it is better to start with a looser nozzle height, run a test/leveling print and simply decrease the nozzle height in smaller increments until the test prints stick.

What are the best settings for nozzle height and bed leveling?

When it comes to nozzle height, we have found that there is a sweet spot that allows for optimal adhesion/removal of printed parts. When trying to find that sweet spot it is better to start with the nozzle height on the high side and run a test print where you pay close attention to the first layer of the print. You will know right away if the nozzle is too far because the extruded filament will not stick and in that case, no harm done to the sheet. Just reduce the nozzle height slightly and try again until it sticks. For setting the nozzle height (i.e. the distance between your nozzle and the BuildTak sheet) we recommend using the thickness of a standard piece of office paper (or about .1mm) for ABS and a piece of card stock (or about .2mm) for PLA with just a little bit of friction. Proper leveling should also increase the longevity of the sheet because it will more than likely mean you will not be subjecting it to as much wear and tear in the removal of the object.

Why are my prints not sticking to the BuildTak?

This is generally caused when the extruder nozzle is too far away from the BuildTak sheet, try decreasing nozzle height slightly. Run a test print after each adjustment to confirm.

Why are my prints sticking too well to the BuildTak, making it difficult to remove the builds afterwards?

This can happen when the extruder nozzle is too close to the BuildTak sheet. Try increasing the nozzle height slightly and make sure the print bed is level. Make sure you run a test print. When printing with ABS, try to remove the builds immediately after completion. Reheating the heated print bed (for ABS) will also help to release larger builds that are sticking too well. Please note, a heated bed is not required for printing with PLA or removing parts printed with PLA.

What Materials work with BuildTak?

Works with ABS, PLA, PC, PLA-blends (carbon fiber, metal additives), HIPS, PET+, Brick, Wood, the full line of Polymaker filaments, ColorFabb’s copolymer line including their nGen Flex, and others (ask us and we’ll try it!); additionally we have had success with getting nylon and t-glase (PETT) to adhere when used with a thin layer of washable glue stick on the BuildTak surface.  (We recommend using a separate BuildTak sheet on an additional FlexPlate for filaments which require glue stick, because the glue stick is difficult to wash off.)  BuildTak is not compatible with large TPU (i.e. NinjaFlex) prints, as they typically fuse with the BuildTak surface.  PETG and PC require special print settings to avoid fused prints (see FAQ).

What's the difference between BuildTak Original and BuildTak PEI?

BuildTak vs. PEI is a matter of user preference.  BuildTak PEI is comparable to BuildTak Original but exhibits slightly different adhesion and release properties which vary depending on the material being printed.  In general, BuildTak PEI offers easier release of finished prints while BuildTak Original offers a stronger hold during printing.  BuildTak Original is especially good for prints with a small first layer contact area or delicate first layer details.  BuildTak PEI is more forgiving to nozzle height variations and is less likely to experience fused prints, making it an ideal choice for 3d printing beginners.

Paired with our Complete BuildTak FlexPlate System, you can keep multiple FlexPlates on-hand to easily swap out between the BuildTak Original and BuildTak PEI print surfaces, depending on the material being printed.  (For example, Polycarbonate requires BuildTak’s extra-strong hold to finish prints successfully, while PEI should be used for PETG because of its easier release.)  BuildTak PEI and BuildTak Original are both 0.010″ so no need to re-level when swapping!

Which filaments work best with BuildTak Original and which with BuildTak PEI?

  • PLA – both surfaces
  • ABS – both surfaces
  • TPU/NinjaFlex – both surfaces (use an unheated bed for printing, heat bed to 100C for removal, remove slowly)
  • PETG – BuildTak PEI (follow special instructions to avoid fused prints – see PETG FAQ)
  • Polycarbonate (PC) – BuildTak Original (follow special instructions to avoid fused prints – see PC FAQ)
  • Nylons – both surfaces (must use glue stick for adhesion)
  • Carbon fiber-infused PLA – BuildTak Original (use an unheated bed to avoid fused prints)
  • Carbon fiber-infused nylon – BuildTak Original (some prints require glue stick for adhesion)

Please email us at info@buildtak.com if you’re printing with other materials not listed.

I'm printing with Polycarbonate (PC) or a Polycarbonate blend

Of all the 3d printing materials on the market, PC likes to stick to BuildTak most strongly and requires some special care.  You’ll need to print with a raft or you’ll end up with fused prints and chunks of your BuildTak sheet tearing off with your prints.  The raft accomplishes two things: The reduced surface contact of the raft underside allows for easier print removal and preserves your sheet, and the greater layer height of the raft’s first layers will compensate for the slight bubbling/puckering that PC tends to cause over time.  There’s an excellent video by Polymaker showing their ideal settings, posted here.  We also recommend raising the z-offset by as much as 0.200mm from where you’d have it set for PLA.  This reduces adhesion and makes removal easier.  You can fight warping by shutting off or blocking your nozzle cooling fans, and may experience warping reduction (and a stronger part) by increasing your layer heights (up to 0.32mm for a standard 0.40mm nozzle).

When your PC print is complete, flexing your FlexPlate slightly to get removal started is a good practice.  With PC you’ll hear it cracking as it separates from the BuildTak surface.  If it resists separating (stops cracking), stop flexing and switch to your spatula.  When you flex prints off, the least-adhered parts of the base of the print will separate first, so whatever is still adhered will always be the most difficult part of the print to remove.  Use a spatula to get under and sweep across the bottom side of the print, resisting the urge to twist or pry upward.  Here’s a removal video of a PC print on BuildTak Original – although we had the nozzle height set just right and didn’t need a spatula, it gives you an idea of the size of prints that should work out with perfect settings.

I'm printing with PETG

PETG is a particularly difficult filament to print with because it does have a tendency to fuse with most bed surfaces.  It is essential to set the nozzle height as far as possible from the bed surface while maintaining adequate first layer adhesion.  You’ll also want to set the bed temperature as low as possible to avoid excessive adhesion.  The Complete BuildTak FlexPlate System comes with a free sheet of BuildTak Original, which is not ideally suited for PETG as prints fuse easily.  You’ll want to pick up a sheet of BuildTak PEI and consider adding glue stick to ease release.  While adding glue stick involves an extra preparation step, it can have a significant impact on ease of release and extend the lifetime of your BuildTak PEI sheet.  The PEI’s smooth finish makes it easy to periodically wash the glue stick residue off and start with a fresh layer.

Can I order a custom-size FlexPlate System?

We do offer the option of having customized FlexPlate Systems made but this is reserved for 3d printer manufacturers.  This requires minimum order quantities and an initial tooling charge that can be prohibitively expensive for the typical 3d printing hobbyist.  If you’re involved in any forums or user groups for your printer, the best option would be to encourage its members to reach out to us with requests for this size.  If we get enough requests, we put a new size into production.

Can I trim a FlexPlate System down to fit my printer?

Unfortunately it is not possible to cut a FlexPlate System down to size.  Each size magnetic mounting base has a unique arrangement of magnets designed to keep the FlexPlate level and in place.  In addition, the metal FlexPlate requires an industrial laser for a clean cut.

If you have access to a machine shop and intend to cut a FlexPlate System down (despite our best advice), be aware that the magnetic mounting base magnets shatter easily and are very difficult to clean off a laser, saw, or water jet.  Plan accordingly.

My printer manufacturer's website says my bed is 8x8 but I'm measuring 8.66x8.66... what size should I get?

While most printer manufacturers list their printable area (build volume) on their spec sheets, their actual bed size is slightly larger.  Many printers also run an initial nozzle priming routine outside of the printable area, so it is advisable to fit a bed surface to the actual bed size.

How long does a BuildTak sheet last? How can I make it last longer?

This is a question we get asked often but unfortunately there isn’t a straightforward answer.  How long a BuildTak sheet lasts depends on the material(s) being printed, the print settings, and the skill of the user.  PLA is the least-abrasive material, while tougher materials like PC, ABS, and copolyesters like PET or PETG will wear a sheet out faster.  Setting your nozzle height as far from the surface as possible and setting bed temp as low as possible will both help to extend the life of a sheet.  (Most materials can be printed on BuildTak at lower bed temps than the manufacturers recommend for printing on glass or aluminum.)

Another little trick to increase the lifetime of your BuildTak sheets is to avoid using an upward prying motion when removing a well-adhered print.  This can cause a large amount of stress to a very small area of the print surface, causing it to pucker or even tear when printing too close with especially abrasive materials.  If a finished print resists separating from your FlexPlate, stop flexing and switch to your spatula.  When you flex prints off, the least-adhered parts of the base of the print will separate first, so whatever is still adhered will always be the most difficult part of the print to remove.  Use a spatula to get under and sweep across the bottom side of the print, resisting the urge to twist or pry upward.