Printing on Borosilicate Glass

Recently I decided to up my game a bit and start printing on borosilicate glass. You probably know this material from your mom’s pyrex cake pans. Due to its extremely low thermal expansion it has been a favorite for applications requiring smooth surfaces and lots of heat.

Prior to using borosilicate, I was contently using the TAK surface print surface provided by Afinia. Though, the TAK surface has incredible adherence properties. These properties were a bit too good at times. It was common that I would find the adherence so strong that the printed models would get damaged while trying to remove them from the print bed. An extremely annoying problem to have. Even though the pad lost its adherence property as I did more prints, it was still producing an uneven looking on the print bed facing side of the model.–3-Pack_p_45.html

Prior to switching my print bed I did a quick survey of my other options out there.

Some of the options are

I decided to try borosilicate after years of using masking tape and builtak. Though I was pretty proficient at using both surfaces I didn’t like the final finish I got on the builds. It was common I would get bumps on the bottom surface as well as simply adherence problems and failed builds.

I went with borosilicate because of the price and the amount of knowledge online. I also like the idea of printing on a completely flat and smooth surface. The major caveat with using a glass composite is the need for a surface coating. This is something you’ll find most people refer to as coating the surface with an ABS Slurry. This is simply a fancy word for some left over ABS dissolved in Acetone solution. This is a solution which you need to apply on the glass prior to printing else you’ll quickly find that your print is not sticking to the surface. I found a very nice way to apply the slurry is with a spray bottle.

I found this guy at my local pharmacy where they sell travel bottles.ABS Slurry in spray bottle

Acetone is simply nail polish but don’t do what I did and simply go but some nail polish at your drug store. Nail polish actually has a very low amount of acetone and will not do the job. Simply stop by home depot and check your solvent aisle.

To get started all you need to do is apply a very thin coat of the slurry on the borosilicate glass. Simply spray a few times creating a super thin coat on the surface. Be careful not to inhale the slurry vapors. Though Acetone is note very toxic keep in mind that this slurry contains dissolved ABS which you might inhale. I use a full face mask when I’m using the sprayer. The sprayer will simply apply a super thing coat of abs on the print bed. Let it dry and start heating the bed.

Using any surface will not compensate for having a uneven surface so make sure that your print bed is completely level prior to printing.

Now my prints come out with a super shiny finish on the bottom. Now I simply ask myself why didn’t I do this before?

Nice and shiney

Look at that. Smooth and shiney : )




I’ve had an Afinia H-series 3d printer for some time now and have to say it’s been a pleasure using it to print.

It’s the closest thing I’ve experienced to a plug and play printer.  Though the Afinia comes ready to go with a roll of ABS filament but it can also work perfectly fine with PLA.

During my experience I’ve noticed that both materials can fit some needs better than others.

ABS is the work horse of materials, it’s highly durable and is basically the foundation to one of my favorite things of all time LEGO. So as I used it to build things as an infant I still use this material today. The beauty of ABS is also it’s shortcoming. ABS cools down much faster than PLA when getting printed what this means is that it can create really defined objects with great detail.

However this quick cooling causes another big problem , large printed objects will warp massively even if your heated bed heated to it’s maximum temp. Thus you need to be careful to do your prints in a warm environment especially if they are large ones.

PLA on the other hand is gaining popularity due to it’s resistance to warping and also eco friendly nature.( PLA is produced actually out of corn starch or sugar cane )(

The problem I face with PLA is the afinia is not able to cool it quickly enough even with the external fan on full blast. The resulting prints have sticky edges where the material extends with the nozzle making the details rough on the edges. The this problem is only there if you’re printing very detailed surfaces. If you’re printing larger objects PLA works amazingly well. I’ve included some pictures below that display the difference in the materials on printed objects.

My results only apply to Afinia H-series and thus are likely to be different for other printers.

PLA in Blue, ABS in White

PLA in Blue, ABS in White

plaabs2 plaabs3