The bed surface is a crucial part of 3D printers; it directly affects print quality, and BuildTak is probably the most famous printing surface. It’s simple and easy to use though some users may experience some difficulties.
You can use other print surfaces instead of BuildTak, from a very similar bed surface to BuildTak like Easy-Peelzy, to others, like Ultrabase or PEI, which have significant differences. In general, it’s hard to pick one that works perfectly with all of the filaments and in all circumstances.
The best BuildTak alternatives are:
- Anycubic Ultrabase
- PEI sheets
Please keep reading as we review each one in detail.
Easy-Peelzy is an easy to use magnetic 3D printing surface similar to BuildTak; It’s flexible, soft, and comes in different sizes, and you can cut it into shapes that fit your printer.
3D Easy Limited is a company with the goal of making 3D printing easier. The company started a Kickstarter campaign in 2018 to bring Easy-Peelzy surface into life.
The product also doesn’t need any prerequisites to be used with any printer.
It has two layers of material and magnets in each layer; One layer is used for mounting on the base print surface, and the second layer sticks to the first one due to magnetic forces.
Many filament materials create acceptable bonds with the surface, and these adhesions are not too strong, so you can easily remove the piece after print.
You don’t need to take off both layers because the top layer can be separated from the bottom. When you’re done with it, you can set the top layer back, and the layers will stick together again perfectly.
Easy-Peelzy is a product that many 3D printer enthusiasts viewed as necessary. During the Kickstarter campaign, 140 backers pledged more than 39000HKD (approximately 5000USD). So Easy-Peelzy is a popular BuildTak alternative.
Now, the company has a website to sell Easy-Peelzy. Based on the sheet size, the price range starts from $10 up to $45. You can convert the prices from HKD to USD using the google convertor.
The major drawback of Easy-Peelzy is its low-temperature endurance. It can safely withstand temperatures up to 80o C. if you want to heat the bed surface more, the surface layers will demagnetize. So printing ABS or many Nylon filament brands on an Easy-Peelzy surface isn’t a good idea.
If you want to know more about Easy-Peelzy and see it in action, you can watch the video below.
Although Easy-Peelzy is a straightforward bed surface, here are some actions to avoid.
The top layer is vulnerable to scratching, Which means you shouldn’t use sharp metal objects to remove the surface’s leftover prints. Try to remove the part by bending the top layer instead.
Keep in mind that the cover has a limited lift time and will get damaged after a while.
Easy-Peelzy layers are also not designed to work with other adhesives. In most cases, adding glue or hairspray to it can damage the surface or react with it. However, you usually don’t need such additional adhesive layers.
The main advantages of Easy-Peelzy over BuildTak is its lower price and simplicity. There is no standard lift time available, but users report that the surface can be used for more than a year.
2. Anycubic Ultrabase
Anycubic Ultrabase is a glass sheet with a unique coating on top of its surface. The layer provides excellent adhesion between the hot filament and the surface while printing. After the print cools down, the coating loses its adhesion, and you can easily remove it with bare hands.
The Ultrabase’s surface is covered with a porous layer structure that promises more adhesive area in high printing temperatures.
However, as the print cools down, the coating’s pores start to contract and force the filament off the surface. As a result, the piece can be knocked off the bed with only a little force.
Because of this feature, The Ultrabase has a perfect bed adhesion and permits the print from warping. The bonding goes away after the printing process resulting in easy removal.
Ultrabse was initially released as the print bed of Anycubic i3 Mega. The very first Anycubic didn’t come with Ultrabase, but today, Ultrabase is the print bed of most Anycubic 3D printers.
Nowadays, Ultrabase is available as a separate product. There are also many online resources available to help you properly use it on third party printers.
The company provides Ultrabase surfaces of various sizes and shapes though you can’t cut them like bed stickers.
The cost of Ultra base surfaces varies with size and components. You can buy the coated glass or a pack of the coated glass and a heated bed. The overall cost is between 20 to 65 USD.
The Anycubic Ultrabase is similar to simple glass surfaces. It’s stiff, provides an excellent smooth first layer finish, and won’t quickly wear out, unlike BuildTak.
According to the manufacturer, the Anycubic Ultrabase can work with the most common filament materials. For example, PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU, and Nylon filaments.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough scientific results about these surfaces; on the other hand, hundreds of user reviews can lead us to a reasonable conclusion.
In general, Ultrabase surfaces provide much better adhesion than the BulidTak because the adhesions on BuildTak can quickly wear out after a while. The Ultrabase is mostly made of glass, so it’s stiff and won’t warp easily, unlike the BuildTak surfaces. However, it’s better to wait for the print to cool down so that the surface adhesion decreases.
Ideal Jacobs, the manufacturer of BuildTak, says the surface has a 250 hour working lifetime on non-heating beds and 50 to 10 hours with heated beds. Anycubic doesn’t provide such information, but The Ultrabase can last long if you don’t damage the coating.
Another advantage of Ultrabese over BuildTak is that there are fewer fake ones in the market than BuildTak products.
3. PEI Sheet
Polyetherimide (PEI) is one of the most common building surfaces for 3D printers. It has excellent adhesion, easy setup, low cost (you can buy one for only $10), and provides a good surface finish.
You can use PEI sheets to print many filament materials like PLA and ABS without any surface preparation.
However, for sticky materials like PETG, The surface may create a permanent bond with your print. In this case, there is a high possibility of surface damage while removing the part. So it’s sometimes necessary to use glue sticks or hairspray with PEI.
You can find additional details about PEI sheets in this video:
A borosilicate or mirror tile glass surface is the classic, simple, and popular build plate for desktop 3D printers.
Glass is quite stiff; therefore, it won’t warp, and once you set up the surface and level the bed, you can use it for a long time. On the other hand, you should clean glass surfaces once in a while.
It’s common to use different adhesives like glue or blue tape on glass. However, professionals prefer not to use adhesives and achieve their goal by calibrating printing parameters. Some filament materials like PETG are harder to print on bare glass, though. (The same problem with PEI sheets)
Glass has a low thermal conductivity, which means it needs time to reach a steady temperature. So you should wait for the glass surface to heat up before usage. However, once the glass becomes hot, it won’t cool down too fast, and once it does, it provides an even and uniform cool down. This feature can minimize the temperature change, which affects print warpage.
Glass surfaces also provide the best quality first layer finishes. You can see the shiny surface under each printed piece.
There are many print surfaces in the market, and each has some unique features. We reviewed Easy-Peelzy, Anycubic Ultrabase, Glass, and PEI sheets and saw their pros and cons.
There are many other options available on the market. However, many surfaces and brands are so similar to BuildTak. Even some are made with the same materials and provide the same features but in various qualities.