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How To Prevent the First Layer of a 3D Print From Tearing

If you are having a hard time getting your first layer to stick to the print bed without tearing, the chances are that you will not be able to complete your 3D printing job successfully. Tearing is a common problem that beginners and pros alike experience. However, by making some adjustments, you can keep the first layer of your print from tearing and increase your chances of project success. 

Here’s how to prevent the first layer of your 3D print from tearing: 

  1. Ensure the temperature settings are correct. 
  2. Slow down 3D printing speeds. 
  3. Maintain adequate space between the nozzle and print bed. 
  4. Ensure you have an even print surface. 
  5. Clean your print surface and nozzle. 

In the rest of this article, I will go through the common factors that cause tearing and provide a solution for each, highlighting how the above tips can help you keep your prints from ripping. Read on to find out more and nail your first layer successfully. 

1. Ensure the Temperature Settings Are Correct

Different printing filaments perform best at different temperatures. If your printer or print bed is too hot or too cool, your print might stick too much or too little, causing bed adhesion issues and a weak object. 

So, to ensure that your print sticks to the bed and the previous layers properly, you should always check the print temp before printing. 

Accordingly, you’ll also have to determine the optimal temperature ranges for different materials. If the heat bed temperatures are not optimal for the materials you choose, the layers will not stick properly, resulting in tearing. 

To fix this problem, you’ll need to figure out the optimal temperature ranges for your specific filament. Each filament has a different melting or glass transition temperature, and some will need a hot print bed to stick correctly. 

So, reference your spool or your filament manufacturer’s website to figure out the temp ranges that will work. 

You might also have to fiddle with the temperature a bit as your print. Generally, I recommend setting your temperature directly in the middle of the range provided by your filament manufacturer. 

If your print isn’t sticking enough, raise the temp. Lower the temperatures a bit if it is difficult to remove your object from the print bed or if your 3D printed object tears when you try to pull it off. 

Be sure to note the optimal temperature on your filament spool for future reference. 

2. Slow Down 3D Printing Speeds

Another common problem that results in torn initial layers is when the print speed is too fast. If your printing speed is too fast, then there is a high chance that your first layers will not stick properly, even if you have other settings adequately calibrated. 

All you need to do is slow down 3D printing speeds to resolve this problem—generally, the slower, the better. 

According to 3D printing experts at Prusa Printers, you should decrease the printing speeds, particularly in the first three layers of your print, to prevent tearing. You can easily do this by turning the speed knob in an anti-clockwise motion during printing in the initial layers, and then you can crank it back up after the first layers are complete. 

3. Maintain Adequate Space Between the Nozzle and Print Bed

Insufficient space between your printing bed and nozzle is a common cause of tearing. When this space is inadequate, you will likely notice that the layers aren’t securely stuck together, making it difficult to remove your object from the print bed. 

Another dead giveaway that your nozzle and printing bed are too close is a clicking sound emanating from the extruder motor. Keep out for these signs during the printing process. 

To resolve this common problem, maintain adequate space between the nozzle and printing bed

According to 3D Printing Solutions, the ideal gap between the printing bed and nozzle is usually 0.11mm (0.004 in) thick. Therefore, if you notice that your first layer is tearing or sticking to the printing bed, you can slightly widen this gap to solve the problem. 

4. Ensure You Have an Even Print Surface

Suppose you fail to maintain your printing bed at a flat level. In that case, there is a higher likelihood that your initial layer will not properly stick to the printing bed, resulting in tearing, distortions, or even deformation of your project. 

It is important to remember that it will not always be obvious whether your printing bed is flat or not. Even minor variations as small as 0.1mm (0.004 in) can make a massive difference in the success of your project. 

Ensure you have an even print surface to keep your print layers level and even. Additionally, ensure that you do not move your 3D printer during the printing process because this could compromise the layers. 

5. Clean Your Print Surface and Nozzle

The printing surface is a haven for dirt, filament pieces, grease, and other debris left behind after completing your printing job. If left uncleaned after printing, this gunk can prevent the first layer of your print from sticking to the print bed. 

Remember, if you fail to maintain a clean printing surface, your first layer will be prone to tearing even if you have correctly calibrated the nozzle and temperature settings and leveled your printing surface. 

When preparing your printer, you need to clean your print surface and nozzle to remove any impurities left behind by the previous 3D project. 

Prusa Printers recommend wiping the printing surface clean with some isopropyl alcohol or bed cleaner before or after every print. 

Conclusion

Because it can be frustrating and costly both in terms of time and money to redo a 3D printing following initial layer tearing, you must make the necessary preparations and adjustments to maximize your success rate. 

Using the tips explained above, you can minimize the risk of first layer tearing and make the printing process more enjoyable while increasing the speed and likelihood of print success. 

Keep these factors and tips in mind for your next print job.