Using dollar-store picture glass for print bed on top of original heated aluminum bed?



I'm having a really hard time printing on my aluminum heated bed... Cleaning it just results in it being scratched (trying to scrape dried hairspray/glue/etc off) and I don't think it is particularly flat either.

I was thinking of stopping by the dollar store on my way home and getting several picture frames and using the glass from them as interchangeable glass beds - this would also make it easier to take them off the printer to clean without needing to re-level the bed every time as the aluminum base would stay-put.

Do you guys think the quality of it would be okay to print on? (withstand the heat, be flat enough, etc) I'm planning to coat it in purple-glue-stick as I have heard that works well for adhesion purposes.

For reference: Printing PLA, Prusia i3 printer.


Posted 2016-08-10T15:50:17.600

Reputation: 241



Picture frame glass (generally float glass) will work well enough, but count on it eventually cracking/getting chipped. It's always very flat (due to the way the production process works).

Taking it up to 100-110C for printing ABS should not be a problem, but you'll want to avoid sharp changes in temperature, and should be careful that your prints don't adhere too well: I've had PLA/PETG prints take out pieces of glass with them due to the force required to remove them from the build plate. You might want to try without any (or very little) adhesive first, and make sure your nozzle isn't too close to the build plate.

Tom van der Zanden

Posted 2016-08-10T15:50:17.600

Reputation: 14 003

I'd be happy for any adhesion at this point :) and if it messes the glass up.. well its a good thing I have a dollar-store near my work ;)

By any chance do you have any good ideas for how to clip the glass to the aluminum bed securely without big paper-clamps getting in the way? – BunnyKnitter – 2016-08-10T16:35:39.137

There are clamps you can print on Thingiverse. You'd have to browse for the right ones for your printer and the thickness of your glass. – John Sensebe – 2016-08-10T17:58:07.000

Comments are not for asking follow-up questions. @JohnSensebe has a good suggestion; some people also use silicone thermal pads which stick the glass to the metal by means of suction/vacuum and don't get in the way at all. – Tom van der Zanden – 2016-08-10T19:07:50.413


I've done it. Yes it will print just fine. Treat it like any other bed surface BUT... A few points to keep in mind and to consider.

Normal glass

  • It will break fast. Had mine last a few weeks.
  • It is not strong. If your Z endstop fails then it will crack
  • Higher thermal expansion than other options. So parts pop off bed when it cools

While we are talking about beds. Lets talk about the other options. A popular plate is Borosilicate. Here are a few points about that as a bed.

  • Borosilicate is a lot stronger.
  • Borosilicate in my experience can chip / flake. I had it happen to
    one of mine, never found the missing glass..
  • It also has other properties such as high temp resistance and low thermal expansion.

Another option, my favorite is Tempered glass. I have never had it flake apart as I try to remove from the bed. Also it is stronger, doesn't shatter into razers.

Tempered Glass break pattern

You can get more comparisons at Here

So go for it! But I would let it cool then remove parts. Be EXTRA careful removing the part from the bed. Oyster shuckers and the like are likely to break the bad while you handle it (Bad!) I will say in the long run a tempered plate will save you money. I have had some plate of tempered for over a thousand hours of printing on some of my printers. Including my Mendlemax and Dozens of HARD head crashes. Same plate from 2013!

Also check the local hardware store. That is where I got my glass.


Posted 2016-08-10T15:50:17.600

Reputation: 2 913


I am using a glass plate from a decommissioned flatbed scanner I got from the electronics trash. I cut it to size with a glass cutter and it is doing a swell job at 68°C for my PLA. The print sticks superbly during printing and almost pops off the buildplate when cooled down to less than 40°C.

I am very happy with the glass as a buildplate for PLA, especially because it came for free.


Posted 2016-08-10T15:50:17.600

Reputation: 2 804


I use normal glass plates on top of my heated borosilicate glass bed all the time.


  • very cheap (about €3 where the borosilicate glass bed of my printer costs about €80 to replace)
  • no need to wait till the bed cools down to start a new print. Just put on an other sheet of glass and start over. (I use 3dlac to make my prints stick better so trying to remove a print from a hot borosilicate glass bed often results in a chipped glass)

ON5MF Jurgen

Posted 2016-08-10T15:50:17.600

Reputation: 239


I was driving down the street the other day and saw a very nice OLD and LARGE mirror on a lawn at a garage sale. It was about 36" x 28".

Sale price? $5.00

I'm going to be using it for my MPCNC machine to allow me to print large prints on glass. The reason I like the OLD mirrors is that they are much thicker than the new ones and therefore more durable and solid.

If you're trying to stay economical, you can probably find an old mirror at a garage sale somewhere.

That being said, I currently print on glass with a heated bed and spray it with Aquanet Hair Spray. I have discovered that with PLA, if I heat the bed to 60 Celsius before printing and then allow it to cool down to room temperature before removing the print job, I am able to very easily remove items from the glass. Very little effort.

So, in summary, I'd recommend using Glass or a Mirror as your surface, heating it to 60 celsius before you print, spray it with aquanet hair spray, and you'll be glad you did.

Good luck.


Posted 2016-08-10T15:50:17.600

Reputation: 365