Printing Onto Existing Structures

I am working with one of the Engineers in my company to come up with a method of printing onto an existing structure, i.e., a piece of metal, PCB material, Plexiglas, etc…

The only option I can think of at the moment is to have a bed made that has a “nest” in the middle to place the object. I worry about loss of heat from the heated bed, as well as the potential to auto/manual level the nozzle onto this new “raised” surface.

Is this something anyone else has done?

WHY? What’s the logic behind this?

One application we’re considering is printing circuitry patterns, then removing them from the bed and placing them on a substrate material for testing. It’s being looked at as a way to remove the process of etching prototype PCBs and working with the traces themselves.

Right now we’re just playing with ideas. Eventually we’d want a dual-extruder printer for printing/embedding circuitry into objects from the start. But to test complex circuitry geometry, we’re wondering if this “print onto something” approach is even possible.

Your engineer should know how best to heat the surface. If you can’t do it through conduction, then do it via a small oven ( heat the entire platform ) or via Hot Air ( I do that sometimes to accelerate heating on older printers ) such as a hot air gun.

Use a CNC machine instead of a printer for a base. Print platforms can’t handle a lot of weight.

Also, use a probe prior to printing, as surfaces are rarely level.

To get an idea, try using some PCB milling software and hardware and adapt for printing -eg, FlatCAM, PCB software, Autoleveller, etc. This will at least give you an idea how to print onto the surface of something. Then adapt a print head.


@mikefalino , About a year ago I was experimenting and printed without a print-bed on the Cetus. I started by printing directly to the steel bracket on top of the linear guide-block. I used a small square of green painters tape applied to the steel bracket for the filament to adhere to. Using Simplify3D I positioned the small model to where the bracket exists. Using PLA+ it printed perfectly. Ok, so far a simple example. I then printed a model in PLA+ that attaches to the steel bracket to become a level-base allowing items to be positioned, held-in-place and printed onto…a repeatable 0-0-0 positioning table.

I then decided to postpone further development because for larger objects a more robust linear-rail and guide system was required, and for ultimate accuracy a dual linear-rail and guide system should be employed. Easily doable on a Cetus with stabilizer mods applied to the z-axis and the extruder system. For a dual extruder system the Mosquito extruding system would be ideal and is on my list when I revisit this project.

How far along with your project are you…have you solved the heating issues?

Best regards,