The default printing surface that shipped with a Monoprice Maker Select feels similar to BuildTak. It is a good general purpose surface but some other materials will work better for specific plastic filaments and/or better fit personal preferences. Upon recommendation of this Hackaday printer review, I tried a PEI surface. My experience using it for printing Monoprice PLA has been stellar. So now that we have a second hand open-box Maker Select printer whose print surface was well used by the previous owner, the solution is obvious.
We could try to squeeze a little more life out of this surface, or replace it with a fresh sheet that came with the printer, but now that the printer has proven to be sufficiently functional we’re going straight to a sheet of PEI purchased from GizmoDorks’ Amazon store.
The first step is to remove the sheet. Historically most adhesives are easier to remove when warm and this is conveniently a heated bed. Setting the bed temperature to 40 degrees C warms things up a bit without risking skin burn. It peels off leaving only minor residue behind to be cleaned up.
The PEI sheet is 8″ x 8″ which is only a tiny bit larger than the official 200mm x 200mm print area. It is definitely smaller than the sheet of aluminum on the printer. This means we should put in a bit of effort finding the proper position for the sheet on the bed. Fortunately the well-used surface clearly shows where the hot nozzle touches when homing at the start of a print, giving us our axis origin which we can mark off with a bit of masking tape.
The PEI sheet is then placed against this origin to test for fit. We see that the upper-left corner conflicts with the screw used to level the bed.
PEI is brittle enough we can use a knife to cut the surface of the sheet at that corner and breaking a little bit off to clear the screw. After that we can peel off the adhesive backing and stick the PEI sheet on the bed. When doing this – check twice and commit! I hesitated and tried to adjust, which put a little wrinkle in the adhesive. This is visible towards the upper left. Thankfully the wrinkle didn’t noticeably affect top surface flatness, so I just have to live with a slightly crooked PEI sheet and a cosmetic blemish wrinkle.