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How To Keep 3D Prints From Moving on the Bed

3D printing has gained momentum in the production industry in recent years. If you’ve been manufacturing products using a 3D printer, one of the common issues you might have encountered is prints not sticking to the bed. So, how do you keep 3D prints from moving on the bed?

Here are 8 tips to prevent your 3D prints from moving on the bed:

  1. Ensure your bed surface is in good working condition.
  2. Level up the bed surface before printing.
  3. Set the nozzle & bed height correctly.
  4. Print the first layer slowly.
  5. Set your slicer to over-extrude on the first layer.
  6. Use a good adhesive substance on your print surface.
  7. Use rafts, skirts, or brims.
  8. Check if the nozzle is clogged.

In the rest of the article, I’ll discuss each tip in detail. Read on to learn how to produce high-quality 3D prints by preventing first-layer adhesion issues.

1. Ensure Your Bed Surface Is in Good Working Condition

A good bed surface will produce high-quality prints. Now, did you verify that your bed surface was working effectively before you embarked on 3D printing? Well, your prints could be moving on the printing bed because the surface is in poor working condition.

An ideal bed surface has an extended working condition as it is heat-resistant and reusable. Hence, a good bed surface allows you to create great prints without worrying about finding a replacement when the prints fail to adhere to the surface. It should also be easy to install and compatible with various filament types.

A high-quality bed surface will serve you well if you maintain it properly. For instance, the BuildTak Printing Build Surface (available on Amazon.com) is a durable product compatible with PLA, ABS, HIPS, PET+, brick, and wood filament types. It ensures that the build sheet adheres to the print bed, allowing the filaments to stick effectively during printing.

To ensure that your bed surface is in perfect working condition, always wipe it clean using rubbing alcohol or a paper towel soaked in methylated spirit. This will ensure that you’ve removed any grease or filament fragments that had stuck on the bed surface.

Check out this video on how to clean your bed surface:

2. Level Up the Bed Surface Before Printing

Another reason your print is not sticking to the bed could be that the surface is not level. Well, most printers have adjustable beds, and you can set it either close or far away from the nozzle. So, if you’re using such a printer but your print’s first layer is moving on the bed, confirm if the bed is flat and level.

3D prints will rarely adhere to a non-leveled bed surface. Therefore, you can use a tool, such as the Bed Leveling Wizard, to guide you to level your printing bed surface. Alternatively, you can use an auto-leveling device that will ensure that your printer’s bed surface is always level.

You can check out the Creality Auto Bed Leveling Kit on Amazon. It is an ideal auto-leveling device as it has a long-lasting metal probe. It is also compatible with different filaments and is easy to install and use.

Due to temperature changes, some bed surfaces (especially the cheaper ones) bow or warp. Hence, prints adhering to the bed surface will be an uphill task. Now, in this case, you’ll have to replace the bed surface if you don’t have an auto-leveling device.

3. Set the Nozzle & Bed Height Correctly

Your 3D print could be moving on the bed surface if the distance between the nozzle and the bed isn’t right. You will notice that the distance is not correct if the extruder is either too far or too close to the build plate. In such an instance, adhesion on the bed surface will be unachievable.

If the distance between the nozzle and the bed surface is too short, the filament will grind and tear against the print surface, leading to wavy patterns. Also, if the nozzle is too far from the bed surface, the filament will not properly stick to the build plate.

Therefore, the nozzle and bed height shouldn’t be too high or too low for optimum print adhesion to the surface. The ideal distance should allow the filament to squish slightly on the bed. Well, you can adjust this height by altering the hardware settings or manually to about 0.18 mm (0.007 in).

Many people prefer using post-it notes, business cards, or other thin cards to determine the best nozzle-bed height. You can also choose this option as it is cheaper and easy to apply. The proper distance should create some resistance between the card and the nozzle.

To make the adjustment even more accurate, you can use a gauge to measure the correct distance. The Hotop Stainless Steel Feeler Gauge on Amazon is a good choice as it is readily available and has a wide range of metric and inch sizes. It is also durable and easy to use.

Alternatively, you can use the newest printer models comprising automatic bed leveling systems. For instance, Axiom Single Head 3D Printers have such preset settings, making it easier for you to print without adjusting the nozzle and bed height. Though expensive, the printer is an ideal option as it maintains the correct head spacing and bed calibration throughout the printing process.

4. Print the First Layer Slowly

Your nozzle’s printing speed will determine if the first print layer will adhere to the bed surface. If you notice that your print is moving on the surface during the process, you’re probably printing too fast. So, very high speeds prevent the filament from bonding sufficiently with the build platform.

To ensure that your first print layer doesn’t move on the bed surface, print it slowly. Hence, you can set it between 20-40%, though some people use speeds at 75%. Some printers have in-built features for adjusting the nozzle speed.

Alternatively, you can utilize some software to adjust the nozzle speed on your printer. Simplify3D, for instance, provides ideal settings for slower printing speed. To set your nozzle speed using the software, these are the steps to follow:

  1. Go to the “Edit Process Settings.”
  2. Select the “Layer Tab.”
  3. Go to the “First Layer Settings.”
  4. Choose your preferred speed.
  5. Adjust Your Printing Bed’s Temperatures

Temperature is a vital factor when it comes to a print’s adhesion on the bed surface. Since filaments are plastic, they shrink after landing on a cool build platform from a hot nozzle. 

For instance, if you’re using an ABS filament and your printer has a cooling system, the filament will cool down quickly and fail to stick properly to the surface.

If you’re using a 3D filament that shrinks upon cooling, you may notice that it eventually fails to adhere to the printing surface. Such an occurrence is common when the bed has a lower temperature than the nozzle; the filament will shrink or warp. The filament undergoes ‘warpage,’ especially on the edges, as the cooling process is uneven.

To prevent this situation, you need to heat the print bed to ensure a small variance between the filament and the bed’s temperatures. Heating the bed will make the filament remain tacky and adhere to the printing surface. Fortunately, many 3D printers have features that enable users to heat the beds.

You can adjust the bed’s temperature before printing if you’re using such a printer. However, the temperature will depend on the type of filament you use. For instance, ABS filaments require a heated bed at 100-120°C (212-248°F) to adhere, while PLA sticks at 60-70°C (140-158°F).

5. Set Your Slicer to Over-Extrude on the First Layer

If your print can’t adhere to the bed’s surface, increasing the extrusion height and width of the first print layer will improve adhesion. So, how does this happen? Slicer software is highly customizable, enabling users to adjust the dimensions of the extrusion filaments.

Increasing the extrusion dimensions causes the extruder to remove more materials than it would normally do. Moreover, the printer’s nozzle compresses extra plastic filaments, increasing the material’s surface area. Therefore, the increased surface area eventually improves the print’s adhesion on the bed surface.

Increasing the filament’s surface area also escalates its contact and resistance on the bed surface. It also minimizes margin errors, leading to more material adhesion on the bed. However, you also have to slow down the process when printing the first layer to prevent overstretching the extruder.

6. Use a Good Adhesive Substance on Your Print Surface

Filaments (plastics) stick to various materials, including glue, tape, and hair sprays. However, most 3D printers have adhesive build materials that don’t require additional sticking substances. For instance, BuildTak (available on Amazon.com) printers have specific sheets on the bed surfaces that facilitate the adhesion of PLA filaments.

Other printers contain heat-treated Borosilicate glass beds that allow ABS filaments to adhere adequately. However, to produce high-quality prints on such a surface, you must ensure it is free from dust or grease. Hence, you clean it before printing using methylated spirit, isopropyl rubbing alcohol, or water.

Adhesive substances come in handy if your printer doesn’t have a specialized build platform. You can also use adhesives, including stick glues, tapes, or hair sticks when other methods don’t work as they are readily available and pocket-friendly. So, you can experiment with different substances to find the one that works best with your printer.

Here are some adhesives (available on Amazon.com) and which materials stick better on them:

  • Blue Painter’s tape. PLA adheres well to it. It is also easily removable and prevents scratches.
  • Kapton tape (Polymide film). It works best with ABS filaments.
  • Purple washable glue sticks. They are clear even when dry, enabling users to see any left-out parts. They are compatible with different filaments.
  • Hair sprays. They are a good alternative when other substances do not work.

7. Use Rafts, Skirts, or Brims

If your print doesn’t stick to the bed surface and other methods have failed, you can opt for attachment materials. These include rafts, skirts, and brims. These substances improve bed adhesion and are easy to use and removable.

3d print with brim

Now, let’s have a look at each material in detail:

Rafts

They are solid platforms upon which you build your 3D print. Rafts stabilize the print, making it have better contact with the printing surface. Hence, rafts increase the print’s surface area on the bed surface, allowing it to adhere better.

Since you don’t require rafts after complete printing, you have to remove them from the bed surface. However, you don’t have to worry as these materials are easily removable. So, in most cases, rafts will just peel off from the bed surface after printing.

Skirts 

These are thin outlines around your print, but they don’t usually come into contact with it. These materials work as warm-ups since they help you prepare to print the actual product. You only have to apply a single skirt layer, let the extruder work on it, and observe how it behaves.

If you notice that the extruded skirt doesn’t adhere properly, it means that your print could also experience the same issue. Therefore, you’ll have to adjust your printer’s settings to increase the material’s adhesion.

Brims 

They are flat planes where you attach the print’s external dimensions. A brim is like a skirt that touches the print’s edges to increase its surface area. Brims are advantageous as they use less material and also speed up printing.

Therefore, you can use a brim to enable your print to adhere to the bed surface and then remove it after printing.

8. Check if the Nozzle Is Clogged

A clogged nozzle is another reason why your print is not sticking to the bed surface. Though it’s not easy to notice that the extruder is clogged, you’ll find that the resulting products are weaker or curved.

Therefore, to improve prints’ adhesion, check if the nozzle is blocked, and rectify the problem. 

You can unblock a clogged nozzle by increasing the hot end’s temperature. If the blockage is intense, get a printer nozzle cleaning kit (available on Amazon.com), which comprises precision tweezers and durable, sturdy, and flexible unclogging materials.