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Adhesion problems are incredibly frustrating. Whether it’s your prints peeling away from the print bed or parts of them warping, many different issues can be at play. You need to know how to fix them, or they can hamper your ability to get good prints.
In the following article, we’ll cover seven different adhesion problems and their fixes. This should hopefully help you get a better insight into what might be going wrong with your printer and ultimately help you to improve the quality of your prints.
Seven Fixes For 3D Printing Adhesion Problems
#1: Prints are not sticking well to the bed
In addition to nozzle sticking issues, There are many possible reasons why your prints aren’t sticking to the glass or print bed. You need to consider whether you’re using the correct type of filament, whether there’s debris on the bed, and if it is clean enough.
There may also be issues with adhesion between the layer below and the bottom of your print, which can cause warping.
Finally, some issue with your printer may be putting more downward force on one corner than another, which means that certain parts of your print are completed before others.
Use a filament specifically designed for 3D printing. Regular PLA tends to wick moisture from the print bed much more than ABS.
Clean the bed
Use a damp cloth and isopropyl alcohol ( IPA ) or acetone to clean the glass or print bed. You want it as dry as possible, but you don’t want to damage any coatings on the surface either.
If there’s a vast gap between the bottom of your first layer and the bed, it may be lifting off. Consider printing with a brim if this is an issue for you. If you’re not sure what that means, check out our guide on how to print with supports.
Warping is a fundamental issue in 3D printing, which adhesion issues can cause. There are three main types of warping that you need to keep an eye out for Layer misalignment, Z-axis wobble, or X-Y axis shift. Let’s take a look at each one of them so you can understand how to fix them.
This means that the first layer is not sticking well to the bed, and as a result, it gets pulled around as print moves further away from the bed. You can potentially fix this by printing with a brim, but if you’re not sure what that is, please check out our guide on 3D printing with supports.
If you notice that your printer is trying to move in a circular motion instead of straight up and down, there may be issues with the part of the machine responsible for controlling its vertical movement.
X/Y axis shift
This means that one corner of the bed has moved further along in its Y-axis position than the other corners. If you have a glass bed, try loosening the screws holding it in place. If it is a moving print bed, check for any loose parts or springs that may be causing issues with movement.
In all three cases, it helps maintain your printer and make sure that all components are well-lubricated. Repair any broken parts, make sure to clean out your printer after each print job, and lubricate the Z-stage rails, drive belts, bearings, and lead screws.
It’s also a good idea to use some adhesive tape or hairspray on the bed under the first layer to get better adhesion.
#3: The corners are lifting off the bed / not sticking well to the build plate
As you may have already read in our article on printing with ABS, you should always use some hairspray or unique 3D printing adhesive on your print bed before starting any prints that use ABS filament.
Paint it with a thin layer of the stuff and leave it dry for a few minutes before starting your print job.
#4: Streaking / poor surface quality
A couple of things causes streaks or marks on the top surface of your prints. There may be contaminants on the bed or filament, but if you’re pretty sure that you did not miss any bed-prep work before starting your print, then it may be due to the cooling of your extruder barrel.
This can happen if there is too much torque on the stepper motor used for feeding filament, which causes the filament to bunch up and become overheated by the nozzle tip.
While this is typically a sign of a faulty stepper motor, it may also result from excessive pressure on the extruder feed mechanism.
Tightening up your printer’s frame can help alleviate this issue.
#5: The first layer is too thin / too thick / takes forever to start sticking to the bed
If you’re having issues with your first layer through the whole print, it is likely due to poor bed preparation. Ensure that your build plate is clean and well-lubricated and that you’re trying to print at a slow speed (around 15 mm/s).
It may also be helpful to start with a layer of glue on the first layer if you’re having trouble getting PLA to stick to your glass bed.
#6: Horrible odor / smells bad / inappropriate materials being used in the printer enclosure
One of the most common issues you may experience with 3D printers is the funky smell of the nozzle when it starts printing. This is almost always due to using inappropriate filament for a particular printer and using filaments that don’t have a low-odor option. There are also some concerns about toxicity with resin 3D printers.
The 3D printing filament you choose should match your printer’s specifications as a general rule of thumb. For example, if your printer uses PLA, try not to use ABS unless you’re printing with a dual-extruder setup where one extruder is designed to work with ABS.
#7: My printed parts are wavy / warped / bowed
The warping of heated plastic typically causes wavy, warped prints while it’s being delivered to your hot-end. To help prevent this problem, print on a larger surface area more level than the bottom side of your printer’s print bed.
It’s also helpful to use a glass build plate if you have one available, as it allows the extruder to move more freely over the printing surface without causing too much friction on your part. You might also want to read about dealing with rough surface layers.
If you’re having problems with adhesion to the printing surface, you are likely using the wrong type of filament for the job, or your printer is not equipped for this kind of use.
It may also be beneficial to print at a lower temperature and to try printing on a platform that isn’t level (i.e., Glass heated bed).
If you’re using PLA, it’s probably best to look into getting some cooling system for your printer, as PLA is known for its tendency to warp while being printed at a high temperature.