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Glue Stick vs. Hair Spray: Which Is Better for 3D Prints?

When building 3D prints, getting the 3D objects to stick to the plate is sometimes challenging. You want to avoid shifted, crinkled, and curled edges. However, choosing a suitable bed adhesion material can eliminate these problems. 

Glue sticks are usually better for 3D prints than hairspray, but they’re not much better. Sometimes glue sticks stick too well and make removal tricky, especially when the 3D part takes up most of the bed’s surface. However, hairspray is harder to see on the print bed.

This article will explore the drawbacks and benefits of glue sticks and hairspray for 3D printing. So, let’s compare these sticky substances and figure out which one will work best for you. 

Why Use Print Bed Adhesives?

You should use print bed adhesives since some 3D models tend to fall over mid-print. When this happens, your printer will keep printing, which will result in a failed print job. So, making the bed sticky will hold down your model, keeping it in place. 

In 3D printing, the smooth glass plate sometimes does not allow the print material to cool quickly enough. Bed adhesions form a sticky surface that holds your models in place and protects the glass. 

If the print moves at all, the print process fails, so using an adhesive can save you time, filament, and money in the long run.

Using a Glue Stick for Print Bed Adhesion

Both hobbyists and professionals use a simple purple glue stick to hold 3D prints in place. 

Since the first layer in a 3D model is most important, ensuring its success impacts the rest of printing. So, using a coat of glue from a glue stick can make your print bed sticky and adhesive, helping you anchor the base of your model on the printer. 

Benefits of Glue Sticks for 3D Printing

Many 3D printing specialists use glue sticks. The glue prevents warping and failure of the print. This video will help you see how glue sticks work in 3D printing: 

Some benefits of using glue sticks are:

  • They are cheap.
  • They are easy to find at almost any store.
  • They allow you to see where the adhesive lies to ensure the print is centered on the glass plate.
  • They are water-soluble and easy to clean off.

However, glue sticks can be too sticky, especially when working with thin layers. They are also harder to apply to the entire print bed since you have to work in small streaks. 

I recommend using 3D printer PVP solid glue stick available on amazon.com

How To Use Glue Sticks for 3D Printing

Most 3D print professionals and hobbyists agree that using a glue stick to hold a print is not hard. Here is the process:

  1. Before printing, clean the bed surface very well to ensure no residue. 
  2. Apply a thin layer of glue to the entire print bed or just to the area where the print will lay.
  3. Wash the glass with gentle soap and water after printing to remove the glue residue.

Using Hairspray for Print Bed Adhesion

Three-dimensional printing professionals and hobbyists also love to use hairspray for adhesion to the print bed. To reduce the potential for a print to curl or warp at the edges, they spray the plate with some sticky hairspray.

Benefits of Hairspray for 3D Printing

The benefits of using hairspray for adhesion to the glass plate are similar to using glue sticks. The goal is to keep the print in place until completion. Here is a video on using hairspray for 3D printing:

Some benefits of using hairspray are:

  • It is easy to apply to the print bed.
  • The lightweight aerosol quickly binds the plastic to the plate.
  • Any conditioning additives can enhance the final 3D item.
  • Hairsprays that lock out humidity offer extra benefits to keeping the plastic moisture-free.
  • Hairspray works well with high temperatures, ideal for heated print beds.
  • You don’t need to clean off the hairspray after printing, but you can clean the glass with rubbing alcohol if necessary.

However, hairspray is not ideal for all prints. Hairspray can be too weak for hefty models, and it can also be hard to see it since it is very clear. 

For a hairspray you can check here on amazon.com

How To Use Hairspray for 3D Printing 

Everyday hairspray is ideal for holding the 3D print in place to prevent failure. It is inexpensive and sticks well. 

Here is the process to apply hairspray:

  1. Remember that hairspray is flammable, so do not move the printer while spraying. 
  2. Buy maximum hold hairspray. 
  3. Heat the glass bed to around 120 °F (48.88 °C).
  4. Spray an even layer of hairspray over the heated bed.
  5. Let the hairspray set for thirty seconds. 
  6. Blot any excess hairspray with a paper towel.
  7. Touch the bed to gauge stickiness.
  8. If the surface does not feel tacky, spray again and repeat the process.
  9. You can repeat the hairspray process every 4-7 prints or as needed. 

When to Use Glue Stick vs. Hairspray

You should use a glue stick for print bed adhesion if that is all you have or if your print is heavy or irregular-shaped. However, hairspray works better on heated print beds for models with wide perimeters since it is easy to apply and resists heat. 

So, glue sticks are usually best for heavier models since they offer more strength than hairspray. Glue sticks are also a go-to adhesive for many people since you probably already have one lying around in your home. 

However, hairspray offers better adhesion on heated print beds, and it’s easy to apply it to the entire plate, making it ideal for hot applications and models with broad perimeters. 

Are There Alternatives To Glue Sticks and Hairspray?

There are alternatives to using glue sticks and hairsprays, such as designing rafts and brims. Printing these supports can hold your model upright, but it’s generally more effective to use an adhesive with these supports to keep your prints in place. 

Two types of supports can help you keep your print anchored down.

One is a raft. You include this base in your CAD model, and it should be a bit wider and longer than the print. This block of printed filament should sit at the initial printing layer, keeping your model from tipping.

However, rafts can be challenging to separate from the finished print, and they usually leave marks, so they’re not always ideal. 

The other is a brim, a thin lip that encircles the print. A brim is the less stable of the two supports since it goes around the model while the raft is beneath the printed object. 

You can also use other adhesives such as adhesion spray or blue tape, but glue and hairspray are pretty common materials, and they’re usually the cheapest options out there. 

Conclusion

So, which adhesive is better for 3D printing? In terms of cost and ease, most 3D amateurs and professionals prefer glue sticks over hairspray since it is such a common household item. 

Glue sticks are affordable and offer a color that makes it easier to see where you have applied it to the print bed. However, if you try glue sticks and they don’t offer enough hold, try some extreme hold hairspray, primarily if you use a heated print bed.