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Many have experienced the frustration of starting a print, only to find that their first layer is completely out of alignment with the rest of the print. If you are lucky, this issue is easy to resolve. However, some prints can be ruined if an early problem goes unaddressed.
This page aims to help you understand common causes for poor printing and how they can be addressed before your model becomes unsalvageable.
As a 3D printer operator, the first layers of the print are always a bit rough because they’re not yet warmed up. The finest details won’t show up until that time. In addition, these first layers can have curling issues because they’re vulnerable to gravity and other forces.
A mechanical solution is necessary for this problem. Furthermore, there are chemical solutions that you might want to consider if you don’t mind spending money. The main idea behind them is to sort of “weed” out those bad prints early on so that only quality ones get sent onto the next layer(s).
Video: Dealing With Rough 3D Print First Layers
What is a rough first layer?
A rough first layer is when your 3d printer prints the first few layers of a model at high speed and low detail, which causes them to look very rough and can lead to a failed print. This is because there isn’t enough time for the plastic from the extruder head to cool before being set down again properly.
These larger areas of plastic have been plenty fused but not given enough time to cool, which is why they appear as though they haven’t been completed yet.
Three ways to deal with rough 3D print first layers
The first two suggestions are free; the last is a more costly solution.
1) Calibrate your printer’s heated bed better
By calibrating your printer better, you can ensure that it maintains a consistent surface temperature while printing on various types of materials.
Complete information on this procedure can be found here.
2) Use PrintBite or a similar product
PrintBite is a rubber-like strip that attaches to your heated bed. It makes it impossible for ABS or PLA filament to form bumps on the surface of your print by essentially increasing the radius of curvature at which the plastic can deform.
3) Use Printbite (for ABS) + hairspray (for PLA)
If you want to make sure that no matter what type of material you are using, your first layer will look like it should, then this is a solution for you. It costs slightly more than one roll of filament and works much better if you care about the quality of your prints and do not want to waste time and material reworking printed parts.
You spray a coat of hairspray onto each layer of filament before printing with it, using a 1-inch radius applicator brush. This helps prevent ridges from forming at layer transitions by decreasing the surface tension of the plastic as it cools down between layers.
The effect seems similar to what would happen if you increased the number of perimeters in Slic3r. The normal surface tension of the plastic is just enough to create bumps at the layer transitions, so by decreasing the surface tension, you can prevent bumps from forming even on layers with many perimeters.
Another solution for this problem is to purchase a 3M Scotch-Blue Painter’s Tape and cover your build plate before printing with ABS filament. The tape removes some greases that make ABS adhere well to your heated bed, which reduces but does not eliminate curl.
You must clean the residue off after each print session if multiple printing models in a row; otherwise, they will stick together during a later print job. It has been found that this solution also helps to reduce the chance of warping.
You can buy special heated build plates that will hold your ABS or PLA plastic at a higher temperature than normal, giving it less time to cool down between layers and reducing the chance of layer separation due to micro-cracks forming as the layer cools down.
It also prevents warping and deformation (which happens when large surface area flat faces are printed with low temperatures).
4) Get a heated print bed
If you’re printing larger parts and want better quality than hairspray and PrintBite can offer, then this is a solution for you.
You can find more information on this process here.
For those of you who are struggling with the first layer of your 3D print. The best way to deal with this issue is by utilizing a raft or brim on top of your build plate. If these options aren’t available for you, other tips may help.
One suggestion is to use PVA glue as an adhesive agent between layers and increase the printing speed so that each layer has more time to dry before adding another one.
Another option is adjusting how much filament goes into each extruder head during setup to create less material at once per line, decreasing the probability of having problems when starting due to stringing or gaps caused by adhesion issues.
3D printing is a fun and exciting hobby, but it also has some drawbacks that can make it frustrating. It’s important for prospective enthusiasts to be aware of these issues before they dive in, because some of the challenges that can come with 3D printing may outweigh the benefits for some people.