Why does the Ultimaker 3D Printer has a Heater + Heater transfer plate (aluminium) + Glass?

I wonder why a glass plate, and if is possible to remove the glass and print directly in the aluminium plate adjusting the heating.

Link to the ultimaker.


Ultimaker view

PCB Heater view


The heater PCB is not suitable for printing on for multiple reasons.

A PCB is not as durable as the supplied glass is, nor is it as flat. The surface of a PCB held up by the corners with no other supports would droop in the middle, and no current Ultimaker has a way to compensate for that i.e. automatic mesh bed leveling. A PCB is also not as versatile as a swappable build plate. It's a bit silly to swap out a heater every time you scratch the PCB, eh? (You also probably don't want to scratch and expose the heater leads in the PCB.) With Ultimaker's system, you simply unclip the glass plate and take it out.

Because most PCBs are not flat, as discussed earlier, the Ultimaker uses the aluminum transfer plate that you mentioned. If you simply place the glass on top of the PCB, the two will not make full contact at the center, resulting in uneven heating of the build plate. Assuming the glass and alu plates are both reasonably flat, if you set them on top of each other, there won't be an air gap between them. If you use adhesive or something to adhere the PCB to the alu plate, then you have an evenly heated build surface. And you can swap the glass out without having to rip off all that adhesive.

As for printing directly onto the aluminum plate, that's a question more appropriate for the 3D printing exchange.


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