Print Not Sticking To The Bed
Written by STLFLIX Support. Updated this week
This is one of the most common issues with many 3D printers. If your adhesion is lacking, you might end up with warped print – or no print at all besides a huge mess of tangled filament on your bed (e.g. Green ‘birds nest’ print you see here).
Many common 3D printing problems stem from a poor first layer. The following are the various causes for bed adhesion to fail before or during a print.
Signs that your platform isn’t level:
Either your nozzle is too near or too far (or both) at the same time along the X or Y-axis. Or in other words: if the left side of your nozzle is too close and the right side it is fine or even too high up, your bed is most likely at an angle – not level with the nozzle. The same goes for front and back and of course, this can happen on both axis at the same time.
When your platform isn’t properly leveled, i.e. the nozzle to bed distance varies in different locations across the bed, your nozzle might be too close in some areas and too far away in others.
How to fix:
On most printers, the print bed is leveled by adjusting 3 or 4 screws under the print bed. (If your printer is equipped with automatic bed leveling, this step might not be necessary even though it won’t hurt to do it manually at least once initially). Leveling is actually not the correct term for what we’re doing, but that’s what everybody is calling it. What we’re doing is to make sure that the gap between the nozzle tip and the bed is the same all across the bed. Hence: the bed and nozzle are “level” with each other.
In order to do so:
Heat up your bed and nozzle to proper printing temperature, retract filament a bit and make sure the nozzle is clean (and no filament is oozing out during the leveling process).
Move the heated nozzle to the first corner of the bed.
Slide a piece of paper between the bed and the nozzle. Loosen or tighten the bed level for that corner screw until you notice a bit of drag when sliding the paper under it.
Continue to the next corner, position your nozzle over it, adjust the screw so you get the same amount of drag.
Do so for at least all four corners, then check the middle of the bed.
This might require multiple passes, as turning one screw usually affects the other screws as well. At the same time, while we’re leveling the bed, we’re also setting the nozzle to bed distance. By using thicker or thinner paper in this process you also set the nozzle to bed distance at the same time. The receipt paper from your last grocery store purchase for example sets the nozzle to bed distance usually works quite well for PLA while thicker paper might work better for PETG.
Signs your platform is warped:
While printing the first layer, a warped bed will show effects of the nozzle being too near or too far.
One way to easily tell if your bed is warped would be to use a steel ruler or a straight edge, put it onto your bed and look at the gap between the edge and the bed. You might be surprised. Another way to find out: if you leveled the bed for all 4 corners, but the midpoint or some random points on the bed are off, then your bed is warped (or the axis bent).
As with platform not level (above), a warped build plate will cause issues with the nozzle to bed distance. Uneven or warped build platforms is the most common mechanical problem we’ve seen in today’s 3D printers and it can be observed in all price classes and all bed surfaces. Neither a milled aluminum plate, FR-4 board, or even a glass sheet is guaranteed to be 100% even.
How to fix:
Usually, you can work around warped build plates by printing a very thick first layer (but do not exceed maximum layer height = 75% nozzle size. i.e. 0.3mm for a 0.4mm nozzle). If all else fails, try printing with a raft. Also, with a warped build plate, leveling your bed in such a way that your nozzle to bed distance fits in a smaller area will allow you to work reliably with at least part of a warped build plate.
Or in other words, when dealing with a warped bed do not try to level your bed at the 4 outermost corners, but pick a smaller area in the center of the build plate and try to level it as best as possible there. The idea behind this is that most of the prints seldom require the whole bed, so make a smaller area work well.
Signs the bed needs a clean:
The bed isn’t spotless clean, if you see debris from a previous print, dust, gunk, spots, etc.
You see lumps, build-up or an uneven coat of your favorite bed adhesive.
Look at the bottom of a finished print: do you see some dents in an otherwise smooth bottom surface that shouldn’t be there? If so, chances are high something was or is still sticking to the bed there that caused the dent (or the nozzle was too close in that spot). When printing the first layer over a fingerprint on a glass plate for example, you can usually see the print bubble up in that spot
A dirty print surface will make your adhesion suffer. Any debris from previous prints needs to be removed before starting a new print. If your nozzle rumbles over leftover remnants of your previous prints it will start bouncing and it might introduce vibration in your printer depending on how stiff your bed carrier may be.
Often overlooked is the detrimental effect of oily or greasy residue on your print surface, like for example a mere fingerprint.
How to fix:
Degrease your bed surface regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use either isopropyl alcohol/isopropanol in a high concentration or pure acetone. Stay away from window cleaners, dish washing liquids and soaps, especially those that are supposed to be good for your skin, as most of them will leave a residue behind that will negatively affect bed adhesion.
Signs the first layer is printing too fast:
The obvious sign that you are printing too fast is when the extruder can’t keep up with pushing filament through at this speed and you see [Under Extrusion]. This is true for the 1st layer as well, but you’ll have to be way off for it to show. Determining the proper first layer speed is more “subtle”, the result is simply poor bed adhesion and there is no tell-tale sign that says: “adhesion failed because it was printed too fast”. Look at your slicer settings instead.
The speed you’re printing your first layer at has direct influence over how well the molten filament bonds to the bed surface. Print slower to increase adhesion. Or faster to decrease adhesion. Since we’re talking about prints not sticking to the bed, we want to increase adhesion, therefore print slower.
How to fix:
Every proper slicer out there has the option to specify a different print speed for your first layer. In Cura, it is called “Initial Layer speed”. In Simplify3D it is called “First Layer Speed”. We’re pretty sure your slicer has this setting as well, under some variation of those names. Usually, a speed of 30mm/s or less is good for the first layer, you can increase the speed later on but experimenting is key.
Signs the wrong amount of plastic is extruding:
In general: signs that you’re not extruding the proper amount of plastic are either under- or over-extrusion, infill leaving gaps, walls turn out too thin and layers not thick enough (not squished). However, for the first layer, there is usually no clear indication, as the result looks the same when your nozzle to bed distance is wrong. (So your best bet is to eliminate extrusion issues by doing a proper extruder calibration before leveling your bed & setting the nozzle to bed distance).
Print distance (unless compensated by the printer) needs to match your first layer height and the amount of plastic that is actually extruded while printing your first layer. If your printer is not extruding enough plastic to fill the distance between nozzle and bed (3D printer under extrusion), you will end up with adhesion problems. Too much, or over-extrusion and you have excess filament that needs to go somewhere.
How to fix:
Calibrate the extruder steps required to extrude the requested amount of filament.
Check your extrusion multiplier in your slicer software to ensure proper amount of filament is extruded.
Check that you selected the proper filament size (1.75mm/2.85mm/3.00mm) in your slicer.
Ensure filament can be transported properly (i.e. filament unspools freely from the spool, no excess friction in the filament path).
Ensure nozzle isn’t blocked or partially blocked. This is a very common cause of under-extrusion or uneven extrusion. See [Clogged Nozzle].
Print temperature for first layer
Signs the first layer print temperature is incorrect:
There are lots of different issues that can lead to adhesion problems and the end result always looks the same: prints not sticking / warping. Unless you’re way off there is no telltale sign when dealing with adhesion issues that clearly says: your temperature was off. It either sticks or it doesn’t stick & warps. Later on in a print, problems like rough corners, curling or sloppy overhangs – or printing a temperature tower – will give better indications if your temperature might be off in general.
Many 3D printing first layer problems are caused from the incorrect printing temperature during the first layer as it directly affects adhesion to the build plate. Printing colder will decrease adhesion. Printing hotter (to a point) will increase adhesion. Stay within the manufacturer’s suggested range, at least around 10°C below the glass transition temperature.
How to fix:
Almost all slicers out there will allow you to set a different print temperature for your first/initial layer. Use this feature to adjust bed adhesion without it affecting the rest of your print.
Printing colder will decrease adhesion. Printing hotter (to a point) will increase adhesion. But do not exceed the maximum recommended print temperature for the filament you’re using to avoid the filament deteriorating in the HotEnd, which might lead to clogs. Print as cool as possible while maintaining proper adhesion is best.
Bed temperature first layer
Signs your bed temperature is incorrect:
There are lots of different issues that can lead to adhesion problems and the end result always looks the same: prints not sticking / warping. Compare your slicer settings with the recommendations from the filament manufacturer. One indication that your bed temperature might be too high is the [Elephant foot] or curling close to the bed, where the defect gets less pronounced the further away from the bed you get.
Bed temperature (if your printer is equipped with a heated bed) has a lot of influence on how well your first layer will stick to the bed. A colder bed usually decreases adhesion, a hotter bed will increase adhesion. But do not set your bed temperature too high. A common problem we’re seeing from our customers is setting the bed temperature way too high for the material they’re printing with. You need to stay around 10°C below the glass transition temperature (Tg) of the filament you’re trying to print.
How to fix:
Look up the glass transition temperature of the material you’re printing. Ensure your bed temperature is at least around 10°C below the glass transition temperature. If your bed is far below the glass transition temperature and you’re having trouble with your print not sticking, increase your bed temperature in 5°C increments until the issue is resolved (staying below the GT temp).
For rigid.ink PLA for example, do not exceed 50°C. More is not better. If your bed is too hot, you will increase warping forces and the risk of prints warping or even detaching during the print is increased instead of prevented – and you’ll invite other problems later on in the prints, like Elephant foot or caved in walls.
Signs you need to check your part cooling fan settings:
If your part cooling fan is spinning while printing the very first layer you need to look at your fan settings.
Enabled part cooling fans harden the printed line before proper bonding has occurred. This causes poor adhesion and warping might occur.
You want to allow the currently extruding line of filament to bond with the bed surface. This applies to all our filaments and is especially important to check with PLA.
How to fix:
Disable the part cooling fan for the first layer.
Signs you need to use a build plate adhesion helper:
If you have checked all of the above and your print is still not sticking, you may want to consider using a build plate adhesion helper.
Adhesion helpers can be as simple as using a brim or a raft. Or if you’re using an M3D wave bonding will also assist. Or you can experiment with different surfaces or coatings for your print bed like for example:
ABS Juice (Slurry)
PVA Wood glue
Painters Tape/Blue Tape
How to fix:
When applying helpers to your bed, make sure you apply a thin and even coat. We do not want mountains of glue stick, nor thick patches of hairspray. Nice, thin and even is key. When applying tapes, do not let the edges overlap, apply the tape strips so they sit flush against the previous strip. And do make sure you’re not trapping air bubbles when applying your tape or surface.
There’s nothing worse than an uneven surface because of bubbles and with the cost of some of these surfaces, having to toss a brand-new surface because of bubbles underneath it can be quite annoying.
Please Note: Not all surfaces and coatings suit all materials so check with the manufacturer before making your choice.
For a full explanation: 3D print not sticking to bed
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