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How To Stop a 3D Print From Sticking to the Bed

3D printing involves using computer-aided design to produce three-dimensional objects through a layering method. Like any other computer process, you can face some issues when using these machines, e.g., after printing your 3D print, the model might stick to the bed surface. In that case, how do you stop your 3D print from sticking to the bed?

Here are ways to stop a 3D print from sticking to the bed:

  1. Choose the right adhesive material.
  2. Change the bed surface.
  3. Z-calibration.
  4. Clean the build surface.
  5. Create a temperature difference between the print and bed.
  6. Adjust the first layer speed flow rate.
  7. Use a raft or brim on your 3D prints.
  8. Use an over-saturated solution.

Prints moving on the bed is the most common issue in 3D printing. However, the reverse (prints sticking too much to the bed) is another problem you can encounter in this process. In this article, I’ll discuss in detail how you can stop your 3D prints from sticking to the bed.

1. Choose the Right Adhesive Material

Bed adhesives are substances you use on 3D printers to enable models to stick on the bed surface during printing. In some cases, the prints stick strongly to the build plate due to the strong bond between the bed and the adhesive material you’ve used.

For instance, using an adhesive material to stick PETG (glycol-modified variant of Polyethylene Terephthalate) models on glass beds will cause a strong adherence. Hence, it’ll eventually be extremely hard to separate the prints from the bed after printing.

You can use some adhesive materials to prevent a direct bond between the print and the bed surface. These adhesives will allow the prints to only stick slightly on the bed, making them easy to remove.

Many 3D printer enthusiasts use this technique to avoid first-layer adhesion problems. Since the materials don’t create permanent bonds between the prints and the bed surface, removing them is stress-free. However, if you don’t apply them properly, you might get the same sticking issues after printing your prints.

Here’s a list of adhesive materials that do not form permanent bonds:

Glue Sticks

Glue sticks are popular due to their compatibility with different filaments.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use a glue stick:

  1. Heat your bed at a moderate temperature.
  2. Give it a few minutes for the build plate to conduct heat.
  3. When it’s ready, you smear the glue lightly across the glass. As it melts, it’ll stick to your build print bed at the same level as the filament.

Check out the process in this video:

Blue Painter’s Tape

This tape is recommendable as it is easy to remove from the bed surface. A great example is ScotchBlue’s Original Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape (available on Amazon.com). It’s designed to stick on different surfaces; therefore, you can use it for 3D printing surfaces.

Here’s a simple procedure on how to use blue painter’s tape:

  1. Peel a strip and fill it at the bottom of your bed, and do not overlap because you need a perfectly smooth surface.
  2. Press it down to remove any bubbles that might be in between the tape and the bed surface.
  3. Hold and make a clean cut for the extra tape of the end sides.
  4. Pull it off carefully.

Hair Spray

Hair spray is ideal for use on glass surfaces and comes in handy when other adhesives don’t work.

Watch how The First Layer illustrates how to use a spray as an adhesive material on a 3D printing bed:

All these methods will give you the best results. However, some people also use specialized 3D printer adhesives.

2. Change the Bed Surface

Your prints could be sticking to the bed surface due to bed-related reasons. Hence, it’s crucial to identify the exact cause of the strong bonds between the print and the bed.

Models tend to stick too much on some printing bed surfaces. For example, glass beds strongly adhere to PETG prints, especially if you don’t use an adhesive. So, getting an appropriate bed surface could be a viable solution.

Some ideal bed surfaces have flexible build plates that you can bend or remove easily. When printing, your models will only adhere lightly to the build plates. Hence, using this type of bed surface will save you the hassle of looking for tools to remove tacky prints from your bed surface.

An example of such a bed surface is the Creality Magnetic Build Surface (available on Amazon.com). The product comprises a removable heated bed cover that makes it easy to extract your prints. It’s also durable, easy to install, and clean.

Some people also use other bed surfaces such as PEI film, BuildTak sheet, and Borosilicate glass for adhesion. However, you can try out several brands to get the most appropriate one for your 3D printer.

Note: Once you secure your new print bed, remember to adjust the nozzle height. It’s essential to do this as it leaves extra space between the material you add to the bed surface.

3. Z-Calibration

Another reason prints may adhere to the bed surface is if the nozzle is too close to the bed. When the distance between the nozzle and the heatbed is too short, it produces filaments that eventually spread evenly to the surface. These prints increase their adhesion to the bed, becoming hard for you to extract off the build plate.

Now, proper calibration will improve the quality of your prints, making them stick slightly to the build plate. Z-calibration is one of the processes you can use to adjust the distances between the build plate and the extruder’s nozzle. It simply involves changing the printer’s settings to adjust the Z-axis.

Before setting Z-calibration on your 3D printer, observe the outcome of your first layer after printing. If the nozzle is too close to the bed, the prints will stick too well on the bed surface. If this happens, adjust the height differences by raising the Z height slightly (by approximately 0.050 mm).

Note: Another way to determine if the nozzle is too close to the heatbed is by listening to the printer. Now, if you can hear some clicking sounds from the extruder when printing, it means that the distance between the two components is minimal, and you need to adjust it.

Alternatively, you can use some sensors to determine or adjust the height of the Z-axis. For instance, the auto bed leveling kit has a BL touch sensor that makes it easy to adjust the build surface automatically. Hence, you don’t waste time changing the printing bed position and the nozzle’s height.

4. Clean Your Build Surface

Are you using an appropriate bed surface, but your prints are still sticking too firmly on it after printing? It could be that the bed surface has some remains of models that you printed earlier. Leaving them on the bed will create a rough and inconsistent extrusion, making new prints stick firmly.

Hence, even if you’re a suitable build surface, cleaning the heatbed before printing is another way to prevent prints from adhering firmly to it. Using isopropyl alcohol to wipe the bed will erase the remnants of the previous printouts that might have stuck on the heatbed.

Note: Sometimes, these scratches and left-out printouts may not be visible. To avoid guessing whether they’re present or not, always ensure to clean the build plate well every time before jumpstarting your 3D printing or after printing different models.

5. Create a Temperature Difference Between the Print and Bed

Temperature differences between the nozzle and the bed affect prints’ adhesion on the bed surface. A small variance between the two will cause the models to stick too well to the build plate. If you’re using a printer that contains a heated bed, increasing the bed’s temperature makes the prints remain in a tacky form for long, making it difficult to remove them from the build plates.

To solve this issue, you need to create a larger temperature difference between the nozzle and the bed surface. Moreover, you can contrast hot and cold temperatures by using a fan as printing continues. Alternatively, you can spray some water on the prints to cool off the temperature and make it easy to remove them from the bed surface.

Another way to solve the temperature issues is by using a cooling system printer. While printing, the filaments emerging from the nozzle will shrink when they land on the cooler areas of the bed surface. Hence, they won’t adhere too firmly on the platform, and you can extract them seamlessly once printing is complete.

However, this may apply to some types of filaments, such as ABS, that cool and shrink when they contact a cool bed surface. In some cases, these materials also warp at the edges.

6. Adjust the First Layer Speed and Flow Rate

Many people regularly experience problems where their 3D models fail to stick properly on the build surface. So, they fix this issue by slowing down the first layering process and increasing its flow rate. However, if your prints adhere too much to the bed, you can do the opposite to solve the problem.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Make adjustments on your printer to increase the nozzle speed. So, the first layer will print faster, reducing its chances of adhering firmly to the bed surface.
  • While adjusting the settings, you can use the trial and error method to determine the best printing settings for your first layer.

As long as you end up with a less sticky 3D print on your bed, you can use the applicable settings. Moreover, this method is not complex as you can do it manually.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • You should always check the state of the nozzle before making the adjustments to ensure that it doesn’t have dirt or clogs internally and externally.
  • You can also inspect whether the filament manufacturer recommends you adjust the temperatures. However, if they’re not proposing it, do not adjust because you might not achieve your objectives.

7. Use a Raft or Brim on Your 3D Print

Rafts and Brims improve bed adhesion in 3D printing. They make it easier for prints to attach to the bed. Similarly, if you’re experiencing problems with objects sticking too firmly to the build plate, using a raft or brim is ideal for solving the issue.

Rafts and brims increase the surface area of your prints on your bed surface. Hence, you can remove the models with ease. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about damaging the prints or bed surface, as most rafts and brims are easily removable.

Here are a few things to consider when using rafts and brims during the printing process:

  • Adjusting the brim with a minimum length or brim width will ensure there is minimal adhesion between the print and the bed.
  • You get the best results with a raft, adjust several settings. These include the top layers’ width, increasing the margins, regulating the fan, or adjusting the print speed.

Note: Brims are attached to the external parts of your 3D print while rafts go underneath the actual object surface. So, ensure you remember that while making your adjustments to avoid confusion.

8. Use an Over-Saturated Salt Solution

Did you know you can use salty water on your printing build plate to reduce print adhesion? If you want to stop your 3D prints from sticking too well to the bed, using an over-saturated salt solution is another viable solution.

 Here’s how to use it:

  1. Clean the build plate with warm water free from detergents like soap.
  2. Put a few drops of the salt solution on a piece of paper and gently wipe the bed.
  3. Keep wiping the surface until the water evaporates (it should leave a clean moist salt on the bed). Though, the marks are sometimes invisible. The only way to identify it is if the build plate is a bit dusty.

Conclusion

When 3D printing your models, you’re most likely to experience prints sticking to the bed. When this happens, it can be difficult for you to remove them off the bed, and you might end up spending more time trying to remove them. The best way to stop this is by making some changes to your machine or the build plate before beginning the printing process.