Is your first layer of 3D printing not sticking to bed?
The first layer of your print must be securely attached to the printer’s build platform. If the first layer is not sticking to build plate, problems will arise later because the rest will be constructed on top of the first layer.
There are many ways to deal with first-layer adhesion issues; we’ll go over a few common causes and how to fix them below.
Common Solutions to 3D Printing Not Sticking to the Bed
The build plate is not level
Many printers come with an adjustable bed controlled by a series of screws or knobs. If you have an adjustable bed printer and your first layer of 3d printing is not sticking to bed, the first thing you should check is that the bed is flat and level. If your bed isn’t level, one side may be too close to the nozzle while the other is too far away. A level print bed is required to achieve a perfect first layer. Check out our step-by-step bed leveling guide.
The nozzle begins too far away from the bed
After you’ve leveled your bed, double-check that the nozzle is starting at the correct height for the build platform. Your goal is to position your extruder at the ideal distance — neither too far nor too close. You must slightly squish your filament against the build plate for good adhesion. You can change nozzle height by modifying the hardware or software; some slicers like Simplify3D make it much easier (and more precise!) to do so. Make minor adjustments to this setting at all times. Because each layer of your print is usually 0.2mm thick, a little adjustment can make a big difference!
The first layer is printing too quickly
Before extruding the next layer of plastic on top of the build platform, ensure that the first layer can adequately bond to the surface. If you print the first layer too quickly, the filament may not have enough time to connect to the build platform. As a result, it’s usually a good idea to print the first layer slower so the plastic can bond to the bed. This exact feature has a setting in Simplify3D. If you go to the Layer tab and click “Edit Process Settings,” you’ll see a setting labeled “First Layer Speed.”
(PrusaSlicer) “Print Settings > Speed > Modifiers >”
(Cura) “Speed > Initial Layer Speed”
Try lowering this setting if you think your printer is moving too fast on the first layer. For example, If your prints speed is 50mm/s, reduce your first layer speed to around 20-30mm/s
Although, recently, slicers come with default first layer speed settings, you can still adjust the settings for your needs.
Setting the temperature or cooling
It shrinks when the filament cools from a hot to a cold temperature. Assume a 100mm broad ABS item. If the extruder were printing this filament at 230°C but depositing it onto a build plate, the plastic would most likely cool quickly after exiting the hot nozzle. When employed, some printers have cooling fans that help to speed up the cooling process. The 100mm wide ABS item would shrink by over 1.5mm if chilled to room temperature of 30C!
Unfortunately, because your printer’s build platform generally keeps the temperature relatively consistent, it will not decrease as much as this. As the plastic cools, it will separate from the build base. Keep this in mind while you print your initial layer. If the layer initially appears to stick to the print bed but later splits as it cools. It’s possible that your temperature and cooling settings are at blame.
To help combat these issues, many printers designed to print high-temperature materials like ABS include a heated bed. The first layer will not shrink if the bed is heated to maintain a temperature of 110C throughout the print. If your printer has a heated bed, you might want to try heating it to keep the first layer from cooling down. PLA adheres well to a heated bed of 60-70 degrees Celsius, whereas ABS adheres better to 100-120 degrees Celsius.
Your slicer (Simplfy3D) allows you to change these settings by selecting “Edit Process Settings” and the Temperature tab. Select your heated build platform from the list on the left, then edit the first layer’s temperature setpoint. To change a value, double-click on it.
(PrusaSlicer) “Filament Settings > Temperature > Bed”
(Cura) “Material > Build Plate Temperature”
If your printer has a cooling fan, you might want to try turning it off for the first few layers of your printer to prevent the first layers from cooling down too quickly. In Simplfy3D, go to the Cooling tab after clicking “Edit Process Settings.” On the left, you can change the fan speed setpoints.
(PrusaSlicer) “Filament Settings > Cooling > Fan Settings > Fan Speed”
(Cura) “Cooling > Fan Speed”
When printing with ABS filament, turning off the cooling fan for the print duration is common, so a single setpoint would suffice (Layer 1 at 0 percent fan speed). For example, you might want to start with the fan turned off on the first layer and then turn it on to full power once you reach the fifth layer. In that case, you’ll need to add two additional setpoints to the list: Layer 1 at 0% fan speed and Layer 5 at 100% fan speed. If you’re working in a windy environment, you should try to insulate your printer to keep the wind from getting to your part.
The surface of the build plate (tape, glues, and materials)
Different filaments stick to various materials better than others. Many printers include a unique build platform material optimized for their materials. Several printers, for example, use a BuildTak sheet on the top of their bed, which sticks to PLA very well. Other companies use a heat-treated glass bed, such as Borosilicate glass, which works well with ABS when heated. If you’re going to print directly onto these surfaces, make sure your build platform is clean and free of dust, grease, and oils before starting the print. Cleaning your print bed with isopropyl rubbing alcohol or water can make a significant difference.
You still have options if your printer doesn’t come with a unique build platform material to aid adhesion. Fortunately, a variety of tapes sticks well to common 3D printing materials. If you want to print with a different material, tape strips can be applied to the build platform surface and easily removed or replaced. PLA, for example, sticks well to blue painter’s tape, whereas ABS adheres better to Kapton tape (otherwise known as Polyimide film).
Many users have found that using a temporary glue or spray on the top of their build platforms works well. Hair spray, glue sticks, and other sticky substances usually do the trick if all else fails. Feel free to try different things to see what works best for you.
When all else fails, there are always brims and rafts
Sometimes you’re printing a tiny part with insufficient surface area to adhere to the build platform’s surface. Slicers offer several options for increasing this surface area and providing a larger surface to adhere to the print bed. The “brim” is one of these options. The brim adds extra rings around the outside of your part. Similar to how a hat’s brim increases the circumference. The “Use Skirt/Brim” option can be enabled by going to the “Additions” tab and enabling it. Users can also add a raft under their part in Simplify3D, providing a larger surface for bed adhesion.
If you’re interested in learning more about these options, check out our Rafts, Skirts, and Brims tutorial, which covers everything in greater depth.
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