Want prints that stick? We do too! Our solution? We use the Series 1 Pro. Its heated bed really improves adhesion and it's seriously awesome! Nevertheless, whether you're running a heated or cold bed, we've gone ahead and cataloged an assortment of sticking solutions. The following is a list of approaches for planting your print. We'll start with the inexpensive ones, and work our way to the more advanced.
There are a number of suggestions below on how to get your prints to stick, but if you'd like some expert help, please contact us with some details and we'll be happy to reach out with suggestions.
Reasons prints might not stick
There are several reasons a print may not stick to the bed. Many plastics will start to warp when they cool and may start to peel up from the bed. This can be difficult to avoid when you are printing something that has a large amount of surface area on the build plate and can be made worse by having a particularly thick top/bottom thickness set in Cura. I usually try to keep mine at 1mm or less. If you do not have a heated bed, it's good to use some form of adhesive. We mostly use glue sticks on our non-heated beds.
Another issue could be that there is not enough surface area, and the nozzle could accidentally knock the print off the bed. When you are printing a part with lots of thin pieces that branch out, the nozzle is jumping from place to place very frequently and can bump the very top of a print and knock it out of place. The printer will continue to extrude plastic everywhere, turning your print into a giant, undesirable, stringy blob.
Helpful Adhesion Methods
The best general solution for the widest range of material is the glue stick. Heated bed or not- a layer of glue has held prints down better for every material we have tested. We advise that you apply a couple passes of glue over the entire print area. One application of glue should last for a few prints. When the 'tack' has worn off, wipe the plate clean with warm water and paper towel. Then, reapply as needed.
Different users use different glue; some folks like the purple stuff that turns clear, others prefer extra-strength. Here in our print farm, we've been known to toss glue-stick ends into a jar of water and paint the liquid glue on the bed with a brush!
Blue painter's tape is the most basic and most widely used surface covering for cold beds. The tape also makes removing the finished print easier and it protects your print bed from scratches. The most commonly used type of masking tape is the blue painters tape 3M 2090 or 2093.
When buying tape, make sure to select a width of at least 50mm (2 inches). Otherwise, you'll spend forever covering your build plate.
Kapton tape is a polyimide adhesive tape that is used as an alternative material to cover print beds. Contrary to masking tape, Kapton tape has been specifically designed to withstand high temperatures (up to 400°C), which means you can use it on the heated bed.
Kapton tape is used to improve 3D print adhesion and to prevent warping- mostly of hard and high-temp materials. If you're a PLA kind of person, it's cheaper to stick with blue tape. Kapton is 'worth it' for high-heat materials like GMASS, Nylon 618, Nylon 645, etc.
*heated beds are required for Kapton to work
Prefab 3D Printing Surfaces (Build Tak)
BuildTak is a thin, square, durable plastic sheet that adheres to the print bed. It provides an optimal printing surface for 3D objects to adhere to. It also allows for a clean and easy removal of completed builds.
BuildTak is a very effective alternative to masking tape/Kapton tape. The main advantage being that it needs replacing a lot less frequently.
But I use...
3D printing adhesion is an evolving field, with new solutions popping up all the time. Got a combination of materials and surfaces that works great for you? Use the comment field to tell us about it. Bonus points if you tell us your settings too!
Helpful Cura Settings
Rafts can be very useful when you are trying to adhere a part with less surface area to the build plate. The printer will extrude (default) four layers of plastic onto the build plate underneath the part. Normal Cura settings for solid infill will make the tool head do alternating layers of diagonal infill in opposite directions. A raft, on the other hand, is slightly different. The first layer of infill is not very dense as the tool head creates an infill that runs front to back. On the next layer, it runs a slightly denser infill in the normal diagonal direction. The third layer is a little more dense and runs in the opposite diagonal direction. The final layer runs right to left with a very solid infill. After this is completed, the printer starts the print on top of the raft. Having the first layers less dense helps prevent warping as well as increase adhesion. I've had great luck with Cura's rafts and they are very easy to pull off the part once the print is finished.
A Cura brim tells the tool head to make several extra perimeters surrounding the first layer of a print. I usually only use them for small parts that only need a little extra adhesion.
Z-hops can be helpful if you are printing something with lots of parts that branch outwards as described earlier. When the tool head jumps from one spot to another, it retracts the filament slightly in order to reduce stringiness. In the expert settings in Cura, under retraction, there is an option to set a z-hop when the extruder retracts and jumps from one spot to another. The z-hop will cause the build plate to lower slightly when the extruder retracts and ensure that it does not knock into any parts of the print when it moves. Sometimes, a z-hop can increase the stringiness and the total amount of time for the print so it might take some playing around with retraction settings before you can fine tune your g-code and get a print that really looks great.
We've found that 0.3mm is a pretty good level for a z-hop since that is about the highest layer height we recommend using our Cura profiles. In addition, it should ensure that the tool head does not run into anything while moving from section to section.
Type A Machines Cura Profiles
We do recommend that you download our latest version of Cura and use the material profiles that come with it. For each individual part, you may want to change a few small things, but we highly suggest that you, at least, start with our material profiles and slowly tweak things as needed. It can often take a few different tries and some tweaking before you get a print that you really like.
Settings that work for one part may not be perfect for another. Most notably, very solid parts that don't frequently require the tool head to jump around may require less retraction and be able to print a little faster than something with lots of holes or spindly parts.
Want some extra help?
Use this form to supply some details on your print and we'll get back to you with some suggestions: Help me get my prints to stick!