Idea: Printing bigger than the build plate.

Recently, when having a problem getting my print to the print area of my printer, I had an idea.

I just needed 10 to 20mm additional space on the X axis, but you cannot increase the physical print bed using the slicer. Right?


It took me a while and a lot of tinkering to sort out all the problems, but I got it to work. I printed a 240mm long object on a 220mm x axis. Why didn´t you place the object diagonally you may ask. Well. that way it would not have fit as the object was 50mm in the other direction.

So, how did I do it?

Well, it wasn´t easy and a lot of guessing was involved. First you need a printer that can move the printer beyond the build plate. My ANet has alot of space at its side and I can easily add 10-12mm left and right of the build plate. This is the space I utilized.

First I needed to create an “overdrive” profile for my printer, which basicall just was a clone with a bigger build surface. Then I loaded the object and placed it in mid air. I enabled tree support, which allowed growing to the sides (remember, the slicer only thinks there is a bed to print on) without being printing the object right away. Normal support works, too. The lower levels are bridging into mid air and sagging, but a few layers in the support stabilizes and by the time the actual print starts, it has a nice place to print on. OctoPrint will warn about printing outside the available print volume, when you have the test enabled, but on second try it will start the print anyway.

A raft is possible, too and probably gives a better result, when creating a surface to print on in mid air, but for me just support was enough and quality wasn´t the issue here. Remember you can increase the support density as well, which may helps, too without wasting all the time and plastic for a proper raft.

You may ask why the hassle? Well, because there was no other way to get the print done. That is why I asked in the Cura forum for some “air space” settings, where you can define the entire print area the nozzle can reach and allow an object to be sliced outside of the build plate.

When such option would be implemented, it would be possible to e.g. print a statue with a guy holding a sword at an angle of 35° much bigger, as the sword only needs to be in the air space of the nozzle, which now can be outside of the print bed area.

More recent printers using the “Scara”-System have a cut down square print area, but also would be able to reach to the outside of that area to some extend.

I guess all of you had prints that did not fit onto your build plate, even so they would be a little bigger on top and the nozzle would have no issues to print them. You probably did split the objects or print them in some not optimal position to get the job done. This could be the solution build into the slicer.

The following Link is the proposal to the Cura developers:

What do you think about that? Stupid idea? Or just a simple way to enhance the capabilities of your existing machine without any additional costs?

I see you already got a reply to your request. It didn’t sound too hopeful though. I can certainly see where this could be useful. Heck, even a vase, or a bowl, could use this feature. Most vases & bowls have a relatively small base but expand from that to their full width.

Yeah. Especially all these small footprint printers with 150x150mm or even 100x100mm sized build plates, suddenly can print bigger.

Vases are a good example I did not come up with, too. :smiley:

Let’s not forget the bowls… we have to put our soup into something [SIZE=22px]?[/SIZE]