Correct a warped Bambu Lab P1P or X1C heat bed using our precision machined Bambu Lab P1P/X1C Warped Bed Correction Plate
The new 3D printer offerings from Bambu Lab are exciting FDM printers that have set the bar higher than competing printers on the market. In terms of value, print quality, speed and functionality, Bambu Lab printers are a force to be reckoned with in the marketplace. Unfortunately, these new printers are not without compromise. In keeping the overall price point low, the Original Equipment (OE) injection molded plastic and aluminum print beds, offered on these printers have been found to be not as flat as desired by many users. Some users who print engineering samples or multiple objects at a time, are reporting that they have received printers with severely warped beds that are impacting the quality of their prints. How wide spread is the problem? Bambu hasn’t shared these details publicly, but there has been plenty of attention given to the matter (by users) on their forum CLICK HERE for the FORUM THREAD. According to the forum, many users have received their new printers with beds that have in excess of 0.5mm of warp as measured across the 253mm build platform.
This forum topic and parallel discussions on Facebook and Reddit, have received so much attention that in late February of 2023 Bambu Lab released a statement addressing “Heatbed flatness concerns” Click here for the full statement. In the statement from 02.23.2023 Bambu Lab declared that “Due to the manufacturing process of the heatbed, it is impossible to have a perfectly flat bed. We have Auto Bed Leveling in place to compensate for the uneven bed surface.” Bambu Lab’s admission that they cannot produce a flat bed and follow-up claims that the Automatic Bed Leveling (ABL) software, baked into the printer firmware, will correct for the bed inconsistencies (more on that later) were of great concern to those holding out hope that their new X1C or P1P printers would have a suitable build surface for more precision applications and reliability.
We’ve been tracking this problem since early 2023 across a sampling of 5 printers, a mix of both the new P1P and X1C units. We’ve entered into dialog with Bambu Lab support and followed the procedure, outlined on their wiki page to properly tram the bed. After tramming, we tested each of the printer beds, both cold and heat-soaked to 90deg C – then proceeded to measure bed flatness. Of the 5 printers delivered, only one printer actually arrived with a reasonably flat bed (less than 0.1mm of bow in the bed), the remaining printers all had beds that deviated from flat by 0.2mm-0.5mm. None of the printers arrived with beds that we felt were flat enough for our own in-house prototyping and engineering work. Our own in-house print tests paralleled with users across the internet are reporting and revealed great challenges in obtaining a reliable first layer, out to the full extent of the build surface.
Why doesn’t a software solution like Automatic Bed Leveling correct this problem. While ABL can certainly assist the 3D printer in improving the first layer thickness and adhesion, it can only do so for the areas probed. Currently only the central area of the bed is probed and ABL simply extrapolates the measured deviations out to the edges of the build surface. More importantly, software based ABL simply cannot produce a print with a flat bottom, period. No matter what software based compensation is applied to raise and lower the Z axis of the printer as the head traverses an un-even surface, a model printed on a warped surface will retain the warp of the surface it is printed on. And if you rely on models to have flat bottom surfaces, ABL will fail to meet your needs in every time.
Is a solution required?
If your bed is already “reasonably flat” by Bambu Lab Support standards, you print non-functional fun models, you don’t use your printer in an engineering or production environment and more importantly, you are happy with the result – enjoy your new printer! And give no thought to working out this issue. If the above is not your case and you are having serious issues with bed flatness – you should first reach out to Bambu Lab support and see if they can supply you with a flat bed, under your product warranty. While many users are reporting that their warranty replacement beds are just as warped, if not more so – there are a few instances where flatter beds have been received. Expect several days of back and forth with customer service and if your bed is found well outside of their in-house accepted tolerance, Bambu Lab has proven reliable in their attempts to satisfy customers with a replacement bed. In this case, if you are lucky enough to receive a bed that is flatter than your existing one, you’ll need to spend a short afternoon tearing down and re-assembling the printer to install the replacement bed.
3D printer folk are creative people! And while waiting on Bambu Lab to address this issue, many have worked on their own solutions. These solutions range from using foil or Kapton tape to shim the low spots in their build platform – to placing “flatter” glass plates on top of the existing OE bed. Since there’s presently no ability to obtain a bed mesh visualization from the P1P or X1C, most of the shim work is trial and error. And those users who have reached back into the ‘good old days’ of 3D printing, have gone as far as to cut glass plates to fit over the OE bed. These plates are held in place using bulky paper clips or 3D printed clamps (which may interfere with some print head movements). With a glass plate, you can use a release agent (hairspray or glue stick) to print directly on the plate. Another popular option with glass plates is place a magnet sheet over the plate and print directly on the OE spring steel sheets.
Our Solution is elegant:
While otherwise excellent devices, we feel like the Bambu Lab printers are deserving of a bed that can improve the device for both prosumer and engineering work. Based on the February 23rd, 2023 statement from Bambu Lab, our hopes of obtaining an engineering worthy build surface from Bambu Lab, were dashed. Upon receiving this news we immediately set about to research solutions to correct our Bambu Lab P1P/X1C warped bed. These solutions ranged from complete bed replacement to simply improving the existing OE bed. We coordinated with our core group of state-side product engineers and our US based machinist and proceeded to bombard our excellent machinist with protype work.
Our team chose the bed upgrade route, as opposed to bed replacement, to correct our Bambu Lab P1P/X1C warped bed:
- An accurate engineering surface that could be quickly moved from machine to machine without the headache of teardown or rebuild. Our plates are precision milled by our US based machine shop to within 0.001 inch across the build plate and can be removed and reinstalled in seconds, between machines.
- No bulky half-baked attachment methods. The build platform must simply lock in place using the existing positional aides molded into the OE heat bed. It must also remain securely attached (magnetically) to the OE bed.
- Utilize the stock OE flexible build plates and retain the general ease of use that we’ve come to love about our Bambu Lab printers. This required retaining the magnetic attachment function of OE and third-party build plates.
- Work within the existing limits of the machine. The smart electronics within the P1P and the X1C (especially) are very sensitive to changes in mass, our solution had to work within these limits and not create issues with the machine’s self-check procedures.
- Does not significantly disrupt heat transfer from the OE bed. Our bed must feature high thermal conductivity, promote even heat transfer from the OE heat bed and feature great resistance to temperature fluctuation once heated.
- Exhibit little dimension change or warping between heat and cool cycles. Our products are milled from the highest quality cast tooling plate material we could source, this allows our products to maintain a high-precision surface, in both hot and cold states.
The result of our efforts is an elegant product featuring an engineering grade surface, that eliminates the hills and valleys built into the OE heat bed and improves both the reliability and function of your Bambu Lab P1P and X1C 3D printers. Our Bambu Lab P1P/X1C warped bed correction plate features a tool-less install, attaches to your OE heat bed in seconds and can be quickly shared across machines in your lab or print farm. Our build surface will receive both OE and popular third-party flexible build plates (those that meet the OE specifications for size and weight) and will not disrupt the machine’s sensitive electronic self-check.
While this new build surface features excellent heat transfer from the OE heat bed, initial heating times will increase slightly as the engineering build surface is heat soaked. Once at temperature, the build surface exhibits greater thermal stability and is less sensitive to slight drafts. An added benefit of this thermal stability is less down time between prints, as the upgraded heat bed will retain the prior printed temperature for a longer period – this is of great advantage in print-farm. Just like making changes to extruder nozzle material drives changes to the program temperature, our build surface will require a slight increase in program temperature. Accordingly we suggest increasing your heat bed temperature 10 degrees C from your current settings when running our engineering build surface.
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