James McVay is a Mechatronics Engineer from Wellington, New Zealand, who’s earned his Masters of Mechatronics Engineering.
“I live and breath electronics, and love a challenge,” McVay says. “My OCD keeps my electronics designs in check, and every PCB or piece of electronics I’ve designed has worked on the first revision.”
McVay has spent many hours using a multitude of the UP! Mini printers at his job, and he says he couldn’t fail to notice the varying degrees of performance he found were endemic to each of printer’s heated beds. What he found was that there were some problems which needed addressing, so he took on the job himself.
“In short, big objects have a habit of lifting away from the bed due to uneven heating, and low bed temperature, resulting in poor or failed prints wasting material and time,” McVay says.
While McVay says UP does provide a “1 hour preheat” feature and that experienced users know using that preheat cycle is crucial for good prints, he found different printers might suffer from cold corners of the bed and some may not reach even 50 degrees Celsius.
He adds that another issue, the failure of temperature switches, can occur as they’re only rated for 1000 cycles. In his world, McVay says that the number of cycles can be exceeded in just a few days of use. When that happens, the bed no longer heats at all.
“Out of the eight UP Minis I’ve used, only one had what would be considered satisfactory performance for the heated bed,” McVay says.
So McVay has created a Kickstarter campaign to fund an improved heated bed for the UP! Mini 3D Printer he says will improve the quality of prints and minimize total warm up time
He calls his upgrade the UP Mini Bed+, and it came about as a result of studying the printer and reverse engineering its electronics to come up with viable options for this new heated bed design. He says it’s essentially a ‘plug and play replacement bed’ which features:
- Higher powered, better heater element design for faster warm-up and more consistent bed heating
- User-selectable temperature setting with a 30 degree higher maximum temperature of 80 degrees Celsius and visual indication of the performance of the bed through LEDs which monitor heater element status, current temperature and the user-selected temperature.
It’s all supported by a digital temperature sensor with 0.5 degree Celsius accuracy, an ATTiny module to control the bed and “clever power supply circuitry” which is powered from the existing heated bed power supply design of the UP Mini.
McVay says he designed this device to make sure that the electronics on the underside of the board don’t collide with existing parts as they’re fitted, and the UP Mini Bed+ features the same thickness and dimensions as the original bed.
To install it, simply turn the printer off, remove two screws from the existing bed and slide it out. Then connect the new bed before sliding it in and replace the two screws and you’re all set to print.
“While I can’t guarantee the UP Bed+ solves all lifting and warping issues, it makes an astounding difference. This is especially true for those unfortunate enough to have one of the particularly bad original beds. The design has been kept as simple as possible to minimize potential issues, and the first revision has been tested on a day-to-day basis for the past month with minor improvements identified for the second and final revision that will be the reward for backers,” McVay said.
You can have your own version of the UP Mini Bed + for a Kickstarter commitment of about $50 if you’re one of the first backers, and the price will go up to about $65 for later backers. McVay says if he meets his goal, he’ll start shipping the product in September.
And as a side note, McVay also created this excellent bass-playing device (among some very cool other stuff on his YouTube channel) for his college honors project.
Could you use this kind of upgrade for your Tiertime UP! Mini 3D Printer? What do you think of McVay’s design? Let us know in the Heated Bed Upgrade For UP Mini 3D Printers forum thread on 3DPB.com.