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Perfect Bed Adhesion without Glue Sticks(Solved)
Posted by Andrew Austin, 28th April 2022
While aiding in adhesion, glue sticks can be extremely annoying to use. You constantly have to re-apply it while cleaning your plate and parts from it. As annoying as it was, it was an essential tool in the beginning days of consumer 3D printing, before the heated bed.
But now, almost every new 3D printer has a built-in heated bed that can reach some impressive temperatures. As long as your printer has a heated bed, you should never need glue sticks again. Here are some tips on how to achieve glue stick free part adhesion.
How to make 3D Prints stick without a glue stick:
- Make sure your bed is leveled properly.
- Adjust your z-offset if required.
- Make sure to clean the bed with IPA alcohol before every print.
- Get your temperatures right.
- Get your first layer settings right.
- Upgrade your build surface.
We’ll go through each of the steps one by one.
1. How to Properly Level Your Bed ?(For Best Bed Adhesion)
One of the essential parts of achieving consistent adhesion is properly leveling your bed.
If your printer doesn’t have an automatic leveling function, it’s okay! Just do it manually.
To level your bed manually, you’ll only need a piece of paper:
- Select Disable Steppers in your printer menu to move your nozzle and bed.
- Move the nozzle to one of the bed corners.
- Put a piece of paper between your nozzle and the bed.
- Adjust the bed leveling knobs under the bed, and move the piece of paper back and forth until the nozzle drags the piece of paper.
- Repeat this process for each corner until all corners are level.
If you’re sick and tired of leveling your bed before every print with that process, you can also 3D print this excellent tool: Bed Leveling Tool
Disclaimer: We haven’t tried using this tool ourselves yet, but it does look promising!
2. How to Choose Z-Offset?
A proper z-offset is critical in achieving perfect first layers. You need to make sure that the nozzle is not too close or not too far from the build surface.
When you start your print initially, your printer will print a skirt (a couple of filament lines) before actually printing your parts. Use this time to adjust your Z-offset to achieve a perfect first layer.
3. How to Clean Your Bed?
To get amazing bed adhesion without glue sticks, you need to make sure the printing surface is as clean as possible.
If you have any glue left on your printer, make sure to remove it using soap and water. If you’re still using a glass bed, you can use a scraper to scrape it off.
Apply some 90% IPA Alcohol to your bed. After that, use a paper towel or dry cloth and wipe the surface.
4. How to Select the Right Bed and Nozzle Temperature for Your Material?
Nozzle or bed temperature settings can make or break your efforts in achieving great adhesion.
A wrong nozzle or bed temperature can mess up your print. These are the ranges we recommend trying for each material to get good bed adhesion:
- Hotend Temperature: 200-220°C
- Bed Temperature: 50-70°C
- Hotend Temperature: 220-245°C
- Bed Temperature: 75-90°C
- Hotend Temperature: 235-265°C
- Bed Temperature: 100-120°C
- Hotend Temperature: 245-265°C
- Bed Temperature: 100-120°C
- Hotend Temperature: 220-250°C
- Bed Temperature: 40-60°C
5. How to Select the Right First Layer Settings?
THE BEST FIRST LAYER HEIGHT
Most slicing software allows you to adjust the first layer height specifically, allowing you to still print whatever resolution layer height you want for the rest of the print. We recommend printing with an initial layer height of 0.30mm. This first layer height provides enough plastic for prints to nicely grip on your 3D printer's build surface.
THE BEST FIRST LAYER WIDTH
In addition to a larger initial layer height, we found the best first layer width to be 125%. This setting increases each line's surface area to better interact with the bed. We recommend using this first layer width no matter what material you use. For the rest of the print use 100% width.
THE BEST FIRST LAYER SPEED
The first layer speed can make or break the print. It’s the most critical layer of your print. Usually, a slower first layer speed means better first layer quality. Regardless of the material you’re printing with, we recommend using 20mm/s to get good adhesion. With time, you can find what speed works best for you.
THE BEST PART COOLING FAN SETTINGS
If you keep your part cooling fan on during the first layers, your bed may cool down and lead to the filament being released rather than sticking to the bed. That's why it’s best to turn part cooling fan off for the first 3 to 5 layers. Luckily, most slicers allow you to set variable fan power at different layers.
6. Upgrade Your Build Surface
If you have always wanted to stop using a glue stick, you might consider upgrading your build surface.
A PEI flex plate, like Fula-Flex 2.0, provides coatings specifically created for 3D printing. This allows for increased bed adhesion without a need to use glue sticks.
Along with the excellent adhesive properties of PEI, magnetic spring steel flexplates make it easier to remove parts from the build plate post-print.
Learn more about different build surfaces and their advantages by reading FDM Build Surface Comparison.
7. If You Have Tried Everything above but Nothing Helps:
For small prints:
Before slicing your .STL file select Brim in build plate adhesion settings. It will provide a larger surface area for your print, so your print sticks better.
For larger prints:
No matter how much time you spend on bed leveling or trying to find that perfect Z-height. It might still be impossible to get the ideal first layer or print huge parts. Your bed might simply be uneven in the first place.