To install a plate, we put the back edge into the printer, lay the plate down and slide the plate forward so that the two tabs catch and hold the plate in place.
I'd noticed that some plate seem more difficult to pull forward and wondered why. When I wonder why, I start examining things more closely. And, in this case I pulled out my trusty digital calipers and started measuring.
I have five build plates.
Because my digital calipers came from Harbor Freight, I felt that I needed to measure multiple time and average the result. I would then compute the delta, or difference, between the largest measurement and the smallest.
Total Plate Depth Differences
The great news is that when measured across the face of the plate, with BuildTak installed, the delta is just .04mm. The deepest average measurement was 3.30mm and the thinnest average measurement was 3.26mm. That is NOT a very big difference. Here are the average measurements for the plates:
- Print Plate 01: 3.28mm
- Print Plate 02: 3.29mm
- Print Plate 03: 3.27mm
- Print Plate 04: 3.30mm (Thickest)
- Print Plate 05: 3.26mm (Thinnest)
This is where it makes a difference if a child is expected to install the print plate. While any child should be able to install any of the 5 print plates that I measured, it will certainly be easier to install two of them.
The delta, or difference, between the average measurements of the thickest tabs and the thinnest tabs was .30mm. While 1/3 of a millimeter isn't all that much, it is enough to notice when trying to install a print table into the M3D Micro. Plates having the smallest measurement cab be slid home more easily than those with thicker measurements.
Here are the average tab thickness measurements for each plate:
- Print Plate - Tabs 01: 1.78mm
- Print Plate - Tabs 02: 1.50mm (Thinnest)
- Print Plate - Tabs 03: 1.75mm
- Print Plate - Tabs 04: 1.80mm (Thickest)
- Print Plate - Tabs 05: 1.56mm
The Corner Offsets permit us to make allowances for tab thickness differences. So, it's not a big deal in terms of print quality. It's simply easier to slide home tabs that are thinner rather than thicker. What this means for me is that I will choose the plates having the thinnest tabs for my granddaughter's Micro and keep the plates having thicker tabs for my own use.
While the differences I've noted are very small. I would still run through a quick gap and offset routine each time I swap one plate for another. It doesn't take a lot of time and adds a level of precision to your printing jobs.