Print bed warping is an annoying issue, and it can be challenging to fix, especially since printer beds aren’t cross-compatible. If you find that your printer has dips and dents, there are a few different ways to remedy the issue and even out your surface. However, not every method will be ideal for all 3D printers since every build plate is unique.
Here’s how to fix a warped 3D printer bed:
- Use tape to fill in warping temporarily.
- Use manual mesh bed leveling to account for the warp.
- Add another material to balance out the unevenness.
- Add some springs or washers to your print bed screws.
- Sand a metal print bed.
- Replace your print bed.
In this article, I’ll walk you through all the methods you can use to fix your warped print bed and tell you when one strategy might be better than another. You can combine several of these methods or stick with one, but any one of these ways to level your bed should leave you with better prints and a flatter build surface.
1. Use Tape To Fill In Warping Temporarily
The most simple, quick fix for a warped print surface is to fill in the gaps with an adhesive like painter’s tape or another bed adhesive. I’ve even used baking paper and post-it notes with success. All you’ll need to do is identify the dips in your print surface, then fill them in with small pieces of paper or tape.
When attempting to identify the warped spots, I recommend using a simple metal ruler to find each trough. To measure the evenness of your print surface:
- Place your metal rule diagonally on your print surface, with the narrowest part touching each corner of the print bed.
- Slide a small piece of paper against the edge to determine if there are any gaps between your ruler’s edge and the print bed.
- Identify and mark any gaps with a dry erase marker.
Once you find these lower points in your print surface, stick on some extra layers of adhesive or sticky notes, and you are all set for printing!
Still, I wouldn’t recommend using this method all the time. Adding extra layers of adhesives and paper to a heated print bed may interfere with bed adhesion, and it’s easy to get the level a bit wrong, resulting in high points where you once had low points on your surface.
2. Use Manual Mesh Bed Leveling To Account for the Warp
Most people avoid manual mesh bed leveling because it looks complicated, but you’ll never have to worry about warped beds again once you know how to do it.
Manual mesh leveling is a way to map out your print bed’s surface using your printer’s firmware. This process will record the areas where you have warps and dips in your print surface and save this “map” as a 3D model. Once you have this model, your printer can use the map to determine where the nozzle will go on the Z-axis, depending on the actual height of the print bed.
So, with this solution, you won’t have to scrape, bend, or replace your print bed. However, manual mesh leveling is easier on some 3D printers than on others. For example, check out how easy it is to do manual mesh leveling on a Creality Ender 3 V2 in this YouTube video:
You may have to do more work on other printers and edit your printer’s configuration files more heavily. For an example of how to do that and an easy-breezy explanation of what mesh bed leveling is, you may want to watch this YouTube video from Teaching Tech:
3. Add Another Material To Balance Out the Unevenness
One of the most straightforward fixes for a warped bed is to add another more rigid material on top of the bed to compensate for the warped spots.
When you add the new material, you can place a spacer such as baking paper, PEI sheet, or painter’s tape to fill in the dips in your surface underneath the new sheet of material. Then, clip the new surface on, and you’re ready to go.
There are two materials I’d recommend using for balancing and leveling out your print surface: Garolite and glass. Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each one.
Garolite for Warped 3D Printing Build Surfaces
If you haven’t heard of Garolite, get ready to learn about the best supplementary build surface you’ll ever use.
Garolite, also called G10 or F4, consists of epoxy and carbon fiber. These two strong materials undergo a heating and lamination process that compresses them into a thin yet durable sheet.
This material is common in circuit boards since it’s an excellent insulator that doesn’t expand much when heating it. So, it will retain heat when you place it on a heated print bed, and it’s practically impossible to melt or burn.
It’s also smooth but still has a slightly plastic-y feel that aids with bed adhesion, even when printing warp-prone materials.
The only real downside of using this material on top of your print bed is that it may be prone to scratching. Although the scratches don’t interfere with printing, you may need to replace your G10 sheet after several years of use if your prints start sticking in the scratches.
To learn a bit more about Garolite and see it in action, check out this YouTube video from Maker’s Muse:
Also, if you want to pull the trigger and get some Garolite for your build plate (which I highly recommend), be sure to get something like this CNC Carbon Fiber Epoxy Fiberglass Sheet Panel (available on Amazon.com). It is 300mmx335mmx1.5mm (11.8inx13.2inx0.06in), which will fit on build plates ranging from the Ender 3 to the Prusa Mini+. You may have to cut it down, but in that case, you’ll have some extra material for your other projects!
If you go looking for other Garolite sheets, get one that isn’t too thick. I recommend staying around the 1.5mm (0.06in) range so that your print can still get heat from the print bed.
However, using a 2mm (0.08in) sheet is also acceptable, and you may find more colors available in a 2mm (0.08in) thickness. Just know that you may experience heating inconsistencies with thicker G10 build surfaces.
Glass for Warped 3D Printing Build Surfaces
Glass is a classic material to use on your print bed. It’s durable enough to withstand the heat and pressure of the printing process, and it’s smooth enough that it won’t cling too much to your 3D prints. It’s also perfect for heated print beds since glass retains heat very well and won’t melt.
Glass also doesn’t warp readily, perfect for covering up those dips in your print surface.
However, glass has some downsides. Naturally, it’s a fragile material, and thinner, cheaper glass may not have enough thermal resistance to withstand higher temperatures. So, it may ultimately crack during a print job.
However, if you get a thicker glass to compensate for this lack of thermal resistance, your printer’s stepper motors (and belts if you have them) will have to move that heavy glass many times during a print job. This extra weight puts stress on the motors and may create slack in the belts.
While higher-end printers might withstand the weight of a thick glass bed, budget 3D printers usually suffer the most from glass build plates.
So, using glass has a couple of significant downsides. However, many people still use glass and find a thickness ideal for 3D printing. I recommend using borosilicate glass and opting for something like this Wisamic Borosilicate Glass Plate Bed (available on Amazon.com). Many people I know have used this inexpensive add-on build plate with great success, even with budget 3D printers.
4. Add Some Springs or Washers to Your Print Bed Screws
If your print surface is primarily uneven near one or more of the bed’s corners, you can add springs or some crimped-up flat washers to the bed’s screws underneath the print bed.
These screws or washers will add more lift to your print bed. Then, you can tighten and loosen some of the screws more or less to achieve a more even print surface.
This fix is usually best for minor warping, and it’s not exactly a permanent solution. Over time the springs or washers may get bent out of shape, requiring a replacement. However, this will get you through a few more prints when you are in a pinch, so it’s well worth trying.
5. Sand a Metal Print Bed
I’ve saved the most labor-intensive process for last. If you have a metal print bed, you can sand down the surface to make it more even. Sanding down metal is just as painstaking as it sounds, but it will work, and unlike any other method, it will permanently make your stock print bed straight.
To sand or scrape down your metal print bed, you’ll need an even surface (a piece of glass or smooth cutting board will do), some ink, and a brayer or small paint roller.
- To start, spread the ink evenly on your smooth surface.
- Lightly rub your print bed over the ink.
- Turn over the plate to inspect. The portions with ink are the high points in your warped print bed.
- Sand or scrape only the areas with ink on them.
- Repeat this process until the entire bed picks up the ink when you rub it over your smooth surface.
Check out this guide to scraping and sanding a metal print bed if you choose to go with this method. You might also want to look in the video description, where you can find a Github link to this YouTuber’s bed inspection utility, which will make measuring the unevenness of your print bed a piece of cake!
6. Replace Your Print Bed
Although this fix won’t make your current print bed any less warped, sometimes replacing your print bed is your best bet. Stock print beds are usually a bit lower quality than aftermarket surfaces, so if you want to prevent warping in the future, choosing a newer, more advanced material is an excellent idea.
Should you choose to replace your build plate, why not use this as an opportunity to upgrade? If you opt for a borosilicate glass plate now, you won’t have to worry about warping as much in the future, saving you time and money in the long run.
It’s pretty easy to find a good-quality replacement and upgrade bed for almost any 3D printer.
For example, this Creality Ender 3 Upgraded Glass Bed (available on Amazon.com) is an excellent example of a budget-friendly replacement bed that will resist warping in the years to come. It works on almost all Ender 3 versions and borosilicate glass, so you can ditch that annoying aluminum plate that almost always comes pre-warped when you purchase one of these printers.
So, if a new build plate is within your budget, grabbing a better one is usually much easier than trying your hand at any of the above fixes. It’ll also help you ensure that you never end up with a warped build plate again.
Warped print beds are a pain, but there are many ways you can correct and fix them. You can add something, like Garolite or Glass, to compensate for your warping or stick some springs or washers on your bed’s screws for minor corner-adjacent dips.
For a more permanent solution, you can also use manual mesh bed leveling or sanding on a metal print bed to achieve more even layers and minimize the distortion on your print bed. Alternatively, you can also replace your stock print bed with a brand new one that resists warping in the first place.