4 3D Printer Bed Surface Materials for Better Adhesion!

4 3D Printer Bed Surface Materials for Better Adhesion!

Bed adhesion is integral to getting great prints rather than unfortunate looking blobs or spaghetti monsters. Let’s walk through two important considerations for better adhesion- first layer adhesion and warping. 

The first is getting that initial layer to actually stick. If your print bed isn’t calibrated correctly or your print surface isn’t up to par, your first layer can slide around and fail to stick entirely. The second thing we need to consider is that as plastic cools, it begins to contract which can pull the corners of your print inwards. This is a process called warping. Heated beds help to combat warping by slowing down the cooling process and keeping bottom layers of your print warm as they hit the print bed.  In this post, we’ll focus on what you can apply to your bed to get your first layer to go down nicely and stay down. We experimented with five different materials, and this was our results with each! 

materials-image

We’ll be using PETG from Pushplastic to test each of the surface materials (check out our print contest to win a free roll!). PLA has almost no warpage and might work for all of the bed surfaces whereas ABS has very high rates of warpage and might not work for any of our surfaces. PETG is a nice middle ground and mixes relatively low warpage with very high strength prints.

 

4 Bed Adhesion Tools to Get Prints to Stick! 

 

Default print surface

glass-only

Many printers will come with a glass or aluminum bed surface by default which many users choose to print on it directly. If you’re going to print directly onto a smooth surface, it oftentimes helps to clean it with isopropyl alcohol to remove any dust or oils. Since glass and aluminum are smooth, your first layer doesn’t have many nooks or crevices to flow into which means your models are more prone to sticking or warping issues (as you can see in the picture above). 

 

1) Painter’s tape:

painter's-tape

Painters tape solves many of the issues with bare glass or aluminum. If you were to zoom in on painter’s tape, you would see a very rough surface that gives the molten plastic a number of different places to grab on to and adhere to. This does a great deal to combat warping and help your first layer stick well. We saw only very minor curling in the corner of our print using painter’s tape.

 

2) PEI:

buildtak

For this test, we’re using a product called buildtak which is made from PEI. Plain PEI sheets can be purchased and work similarly. This is a favorite for bed adhesion presently as it’s an upgraded version of our painter’s tape and has even more bumps and valleys for filament to grab on to. If you use PEI, you can print with many materials that would otherwise require a heated bed. Our part stuck well and didn’t warp on PEI and was relatively easy to remove.

 

3) Washable, all-purpose glue stick:

glue-stick

Washable glue-sticks are another favorite especially if you don’t want to attach anything to your bed. You can apply glue directly to your glass or aluminum build surface and wipe it off easily with water. This is one of the best bed adhesion solutions and works well with most materials, except for those prone to very high warpage like ABS and polycarbonate. Keep in mind that some glue will stick to the bottom of your part and can also be washed off with a bit of water.

 

4) Jell-O:

jello

We couldn’t write an article about bed adhesion and not experiment with Jell-o! We used a 10:1 mixture of Jell-o powder to water so in our case it was 10g of powder in 100ml of water. This could work well in theory as gelatin has a tendency to swell and get awfully sticky (it took over an hour to clean everything!). The Jell-o worked pretty well and was on par with the painter’s tape. Parts printed in Jell-o have the added bonus of being scented when removed from the bed. 

If you ask ten makers what they use for bed adhesion, they may all have a slightly different preference. The tools you use depends on your printer and filament choice. Our findings in this article were that using a glue stick or PEI works perfectly.  If you have another tool you use that works for bed adhesion, feel free to let us know! 

 

Try out these tricks and submit your print to our Push Plastic Print Contest! You could win 1 of 40 rolls of filament like the one used in this article 

 


 

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  • Or Cohen

    I also recommend a sheet of Ultem stuck with 3M high temperature double sided adhesive. I sand blasted mine and it works like magic
    Sticks well for the print and releases when I need to

  • Douglas Gaut

    I have dissolved a small amount of ABS in Acetone and paint it on my bed. ABS and PLA stick very nicely to it.

  • Stéphane V

    For ABS i use kapton + abs jus (aceton + non correct older abs print) and it’s very strong adhesion. For PLA i prefer BuildTak very efficient and very robust. For Ninja Flex glass + strong hair spray…

  • Robert Reese

    I use a slurry of ABS and Acetone applied liberally, then covered with Aqua-Net hairspray on a heated aluminum bed. If I’m printing PLA, I heat to between 70°C to 80°C, then print using a raft.

  • Val Cocora

    I print on foam, no need for jello, blue tape or anything, not even a heated bed.
    parts stick to it like crazy and warping is inexistent.

  • JohnOCFII

    Good stuff! Especially pleased to see you using PETG as the material. I’ve had good luck with a Kapton sheet over my aluminum bed with some Elmer’s all purpose glue stick. I also found that I needed to add .2mm to my Z height, otherwise I was squishing the material, even through PLA worked fine without the Z-height adjustment.

  • Never heard of that, very cool!

  • I think you could simplify that a bit! 🙂

  • I agree with Josh. Either slurry or hairspray should be fine – shouldn’t need both. I also think a bed temperature of 70°C to 80°C is too hot for PLA. I think you’ll find that somewhere around 55°C is closer to the norm.

  • Hi Val. What sort of foam? Never heard of that.

  • Robert Reese

    I could, but … see my reply to Bill. 🙂

  • Robert Reese

    I should mention that I’m use a Printrbot Simple Metal. There is no protection from the environment, and the moving bed creates its own draft. Unfortunately, that cools the print surface.

    The slurry is applied once, and the hairspray is used for a few prints before applying slurry again.

    Of course, after failing prints sometimes many hours after starting, I have little qualms with “overkill”. The print WILL stick! If it takes extra effort to remove the raft, that’s fine by me. The material savings might not be there (no real loss, either) but the time and frustration saved is well worth the redundancy.

  • Bruno Diacov

    I use hair spray… it work and easy to aply

  • Val Cocora

    pir (polyisocyanurate) insulation foam.
    readily available commercially in us and canada at roofing shops, home depot, etc.
    a 4×8 sheet costs about 25 bucks. one can use the foam multiple times, and then flip it on the other side and double its technological life.
    as for warping, there’s simply none. the plastic adheres to the foam like it belongs there, and layers stay straight and horizontal with no difficulty.
    good bye heated bed, thermistors, glass and the plethora of headaches associated with that, plus the hydro bill and sticky fingers.
    bed leveling becomes very forgiving, have the extruder tip skim the foam, or sink it slightly in it. optionally, one can print with a raft.
    the parts shown in the pictures attached were printed with a 0.8 mm nozzle and 0.4 mm layer height, while first layer was 0.6 mm.
    last but not least, all credits go to the digital dentist, you can find him on reprap forums.
    i’m just a little guy with a small printer.
    good luck printing on foam.

  • JG

    I’ve experimented ALOT (cold and hot rooms). I’ve found Gaffers Tape + purple Elmer’s washable glue (stick) to be the best multi-purpose combo.

  • Caan

    I tried;
    1. Buildtak
    2. Painters tape (marine version is better) (for PLA and PETG)
    3. Kapton Tape (for ABS)
    4. Fiber reinforced wood (for Nylon)
    And I used washable glue, Hair Spray and I had problems always with any combination. Warping, disconnecting, and many other. Wasting time and money.

    5. And last PEI

    I can say that PEI is a life saver. Any type of filament sticks on it w/o problem. I even tried a PLA which was very humid, Nylon with a lot of humidity in it all succeeded. Best of all when the table is hot, it is very hard to disconnect the shape from PEI but after it gets cold, it is very easy to remove.

    I know that it is not cheap with 3M as sticker, but it worths every penny.

  • Mikey

    I love the Lokbuild printing surfaces.. they are amazing and NO mess and perfect prints over and over

  • Vile Key

    I print abs with 2mm acrylic sheet on heated bed. but before print, I spray thin layer of hair spray to reduce the bonding.

  • samljer22

    deodorant stick works for me, at least with PLA. which is all i use.

  • anetmatt

    i use painter tape and my proplem have parts clue wery hard to bed, need use hard power can take parts out and tape need repair/ change ewery printer time new. tape and little 120 crade sandpaper and then no warp newer. this is fackt.

  • Barry Cook

    The best 3D printer bed adhesive is the Glass Build Plate Wizard available on http://www.ez3d.eu. Prevents warping, curling and lifting! I highly recommend it having tried many of the techniques mentioned this is by far the best solution.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3ac32ca0dfbf0defd3edbe02b20dbb6c09bd2c54fce97582df47a6fd836cf8ee.png