Posted on December 28, 2022
3D Printer Bed Adhesion: Things to Consider
Bed adhesion refers to the ability of plastic 3D-printed objects to stick to the build surface during the printing process. If you don't keep 3D prints in place on the build plate, they could be distorted, displaced, or even destroyed.
There's no doubt that'll be frustrating, to say the least.
But having no idea what the problem is or how to fix it is even more frustrating. 3D Print bed adhesion can be influenced by a variety of factors, and finding the cause could take some time. But the good news is that there are as many solutions as there are problems.
It is possible to hold down 3D prints with different adhesives. The 3D printing industry now offers many specialized adhesives, along with traditional household adhesives. Soon, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about printer bed adhesion.
3D Print Bed Adhesion - An Overview
The adhesion of the 3D-printed components to the print bed is known as bed adhesion in 3D printing. If the plastic adheres well to the bed, it cannot be easily peeled off or nudged. In contrast, poor bed adhesion may result in movement during printing.
It is essentially the adhesion between the filament and the build plate that keeps everything in place during the hardening process. It does not matter if the plastic pieces become overweight or damaged. All that matters is their adhesion to the build plate.
The Importance of Bed Adhesion
During the 3D printing process, bed adhesion plays a key role.
During printing, filament conforms to a build plate's surface when it is extruded onto it. An ideal build surface is one that has a large surface area between it and the plastic so the plastic will adhere to it.
The problem is that if the parts of the 3D printer are not tight enough during the printing process, the entire build can be ruined. The precise measurements required for 3D printing mean that a slight movement can cause the whole build to become misaligned.
It is for this reason that adhesive assistants such as brims are often added to prints' bases to increase contact surfaces. The good news is that these special products create a perfect level of bed adhesion.
You can also try adding a coating to your built plate or upgrading the bed by adding a heating element to improve adhesion, which you will learn more about later.
My 3D Print is Not Sticking to Bed - What to Do?
It is possible for the edges of an object to peel up during 3D printing due to temperature differences between the bottom and top of the object. The problem arises when a heated build plate is required to print materials like ABS.
As you previously read, many factors can have an impact on 3D print bed adhesion. As an example, a successful 3D print depends on good adhesion between the first and second layers. You should also use a variety of 3D printing surfaces to help different materials adhere to the plate.
Aluminum, stainless steel, glass, BuildTak, Kapton tape, PET tape, masking tape, or PEI film are the most widely used materials in 3D printers.
So, you see that achieving good bed adhesion is much more challenging than it may seem. But don’t worry; we've compiled nine easy solutions to the problem that will help you fix your printed parts to the bed.
Level The Bed
You need to ensure that the bed level of your printer is flat if it's having sticking issues.
When there is an uneven bed, one side could be closer to the nozzle and the other side too far away, making printing difficult. It is also possible for your print to warp or break if your bed is uneven.
The leveling functionality depends on your 3D printer hardware. Either you can automatically level the bed, or you have to manually do it. An easy way to level your print bed is to lay a sheet of paper on it if you are adjusting it manually.
Using this method, a thin sheet of paper (around 0.1 mm thick) separates the print bed from the nozzle. Afterward, the distance between the nozzle and the print bed is adjusted to allow friction to be created between the paper and the nozzle.
Expand Surface Area
You should design your part to have as much contiguous surface area as possible on its bottom side. Having a small surface area or isolated “islands” on your initial layer helps 3D print bed adhesion.
With brims, the print has a larger surface area in contact with the build platform. It is always better to use a brim when you want to have more contact, as more contact equals more holding force.
The brim might not be sufficient to prevent warping for some materials or design styles. If this is the case, a raft may be helpful. A raft creates a thick grid between a model and its build plate, evenly distributing heat. Rafts are especially useful if the bottom of a model is not completely flat or if the model is made from industrial materials.
Changing temperatures at a later point during printing can affect thermal expansion, even if the first layer prints fine. In contrast to most build plates, printed plastic doesn't contract or expand, resulting in prints popping off the print bed as a result of temperature changes.
Using a heated build plate is a good method for preventing warpage. In this way, the material stays below the point of solidification (glass transition temperature), ensuring flatness and connection to the surface.
A 3D print's quality is heavily influenced by the temperature settings. PLA, ABS, and PETG are thermoplastic filaments that harden when they cool. However, if the layers are cooled too quickly, they may shrink as well, leading to warping and layers moving away from the print bed.
Clean The Bed
A Good print bed adhesion requires a clean print bed. A dirty print bed may cause the filament to adhere to contaminants on the surface instead of the print bed itself. Prints can peel off completely or partially as a result of this.
If Whenever you have filament or adhesive residue on a glass print bed, remove it from the 3D printer and scrape it off using a rubber scraper. After that, you can wash the plate with a soapy solution or glass cleaner.
In general, print beds can be cleaned in several ways:
- Removing residue from coarse filaments with a spatula.
- Using an anti-dust and anti-loose filament cloth that is lint-free.
- The combination of water and some washing-up liquid to remove fingerprints, greasy residues, and most adhesives.
- Using isopropyl alcohol (IPA) to remove stubborn grease and certain adhesives.
Use Bed Adhesive
Your 3D print can be remarkably effective when glued to the build platform with an adhesive. Although the term may sound technical, bed adhesives are simply substances used to attach your first layer to your 3D printer.
Adhesive sprays are another option for adhering beds. It only takes a few sprays of adhesive to start printing on the plate. By following this procedure, you will be able to maintain a level bed. Additionally, most sprays are water soluble, so cleaning up is easy.
The plastic components may also be difficult to remove if the build plate has too much adhesion. Don’t forget that the greater force needed to remove especially thin pieces from the adhesion can potentially damage them.
All in all, you can choose from a few different options, including:
- Glue sticks,
- Tape for painting,
- Adhesives specially designed for 3D printing, like the ones at BuildTak.
Adjust Nozzle Speed
A 3D print's nozzle speed can also play a key role in 3D printer bed adhesion. As is the case with nozzle distance, you must also find a sweet spot when it comes to nozzle speed, especially in the beginning.
Many slicers already include slower first-layer print rates in their default settings. Most of them print at 50% of their normal speed, approximately 20-30 mm/s for most 3D printers.
When the first layer is printed at a speed of 5 to 10 mm/s, print bed adhesion increases significantly.
If the nozzle's speed is slowed, the plastic has more time to adhere to the bed and have a better grip on it. Overly rapid printing may cause the filament to not stick to the bed since the plastic cools too rapidly. You can resume running the nozzle at normal speed once you've laid down your first few layers and are satisfied with the adhesion of the print to the bed.
Use PEI Sheets
Polyetherimide sheets, also known as PEI sheets, are plastic sheets with adhesive properties for 3D printing. Their adhesive side adheres to the build plate, and their build side allows you to construct 3D prints.
The soft plastic can dent and damage very easily, even though they are supposed to be reusable for up to a month. It is possible to ruin a print if the build plate is not perfectly level. PEI sheets are risky to invest in since if they are damaged during an early print, they can become useless.
Replacing The Bed
One alternative would be to replace the build plate altogether if none of the options above work.
It's important to note that different types of beds each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Unlike smooth or textured PEI sheets, glass beds cost less but require extra adhesive and are hard to pop off parts.
It is also possible for these to have problems with the Z offset. In addition, polypropylene (PP) beds are also affordable and capable of withstanding high temperatures, although their first-layer printing can be problematic.
Consider The Material
Materials will ultimately determine whether you can create parts with the desired mechanical properties, functional characteristics, or aesthetic properties.
Every type of filament requires a different bed type to adhere well. If you wish to use glue sticks, make sure your filament is compatible with the adhesive you are purchasing for your 3D printer. A thin layer is all you need to apply to the bed.
Remember that you'll need to experiment to find out what adhesives work best with different filaments. What works for thermoplastics will not have the same effect on thermosetting plastics.
They are distinguished from thermosets by their ability to undergo numerous melt and solidification processes. In fact, thermoplastics are flexible and can be formed by heating.
This is while thermosetting plastics cure permanently into solids. When heated, thermosetting plastics break down rather than melt and will not reform when cooled.
Applying Special & Common Adhesives
When applied correctly, a variety of adhesives can increase print bed adhesion in 3D printing. Among them are PVA glue (a common household glue stick), blue printer's tape, and Kapton film.
PLA filament commonly adheres to DIY beds with hairspray and glue sticks. The blue painter's tape also works well with PLA (with the sticky side toward the bottom) since the porous texture of the tape bonds well with PLA.
In addition, there are adhesives designed specifically for 3D printing, including BuildTak Bond for Polyamide (Nylon) and Polycarbonate and BuildTak Bond for Polypropylene. 3D printing glues are reasonably priced since they are specifically designed for the purpose.
These adhesives are believed to provide better adhesion than the ones previously discussed.
Using Glue Sticks & Hair Sprays
The use of glue sticks during 3D printing helps keep your models secure. It doesn't take much effort to apply the glue stick to the area where you will be printing, and the printer will take care of the rest.
They can, however, create an unlevel bed, similar to PEI sheets. Glue can cause prints to become crooked if it builds up too much at one point. Use only a thin layer of adhesive on the printer bed, or you could have issues with the print's leveling or surface quality.
Additionally, cleaning up can be a hassle since the glue sticks to the plate and print.
Hairspray can also be used as a quick emergency solution, along with glue sticks. Spraying the print bed can be dangerous, so be careful not to get hairspray on the other parts of the printer.
Cleaning Off The Adhesive
Smooth and clean print surfaces are essential for good adhesion. Ensure there are no traces of grease or oil on it. Otherwise, it will not adhere well. If you plan to use a heated build plate, it's a good idea to apply an adhesive to the glass surface.
When using adhesives, cleaning involves not only removing filament remnants but also regularly removing adhesive traces from the print bed.
A little dishwashing liquid and water are the easiest ways to clean most adhesives. It is, however, necessary to use stronger solvents, namely isopropanol, for some adhesives.
When you don't use adhesives on your print bed, you can simply remove the filament remnants using lint-free cloth BuildTak’s special spatula.
Despite planning, measuring, and experimenting, you can't get your 3D print to stick.
The corners of the 3D printer's build surface unstick, parts warp, and eventually fail. Additionally, adhesion issues can be caused by a wide variety of factors, for example, bed leveling, print temperature, filament temperature, defective build plates, printer settings, etc.
Finding the problem is one part, and looking for the right solution is another. We tried providing some useful methods to improve your 3D printer bed adhesion. Most of the solutions are quick and cost-effective, and they can save you a lot of hassle.
The tips in this article will help you print confidently, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your parts are safe.