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Let's Talk Bed Adhesion

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    Let's Talk Bed Adhesion

    3D Printer Bed Plate Adhesion

    Bed Adhesion: What you truly need to know.

    Like many of you, I am starting to experiment with exotic filaments. One of the issues that people face when 3D printing more exotic filaments are getting their prints to stick to the build plate. It is not that common filaments do not have adhesion challenges, but exotics often list adhesion as on their cons in nearly every instruction list.

    Lets fave the facts, some filaments are too sticky while others just won't stick at all. If you have too little adhesion, the print could move during the print process which will cause it to fail. If you have too much adhesion, you could damage the print or print bead during removal. No one wants a failed print or damaged bed.

    So, what is bed adhesion?

    Adhesion is the tendency of two items to cling to one another. Bed adhesion is simply the ability of 3D printed plastic to cling or “stick” to the build plate during a print. The adhesion depends on the type of filament, type of bed, and the temperature of the beds. It can be reduced by bed contaminates and increased by the age of the bed. When adhesion is insufficient, the print can stick to the nozzle, peal form the build plate, curl up, or just turn into a molten mess on the nozzle and heat block.

    Manufacturers have created a number of solutions to help improve print bed adhesion. There is an unlimited number of potential solutions that are only limited by the price you are willing to pay. There is no universal solution. Some surfaces work better with certain filaments. 3D printers use aluminum, Buildtak, Garolite, Gekotek, glass, Kapton tape, masking tape, stainless steel, PEI (film or textured powder), or PET tape. But there is not a single bed type that works best for the adhesion of every type of filament.

    To manufacturers of printers, the whole goal is to build a surface that works with most filaments. No single surface is universally successful, but PEI is close. Glass is very durable, but often needs help to promote adhesion with some filaments. That being said the goal of this post is to discuss what we can do to improve or influence bed adhesion and why they work.

    Adhesion is a property created by the combination of the bedplate and the filament you are printing. Some have too much and some have too little. Adhesion tends to increase with the age to the bed surface on most. If you do nto have the problem now, you probably will over time.

    Ways to promote adhesion:
    • Make sure your bed is clean (Alcohol, Soap and water, and Acetone [ordered by risk to bed]).
    • Check your Z.
    • Use Hair spray (if too little adhesion)
    • Bed Glues including glue sticks.
    • Windex
    • Scrubbing (be careful to use the right product).
    • Sanding (be careful).

    I am going to discuss each of these in-depth. I am not an expert. I am starting the thread to share information. I hope you do the same.

    Here's what I know so far. Finding the correct print surface really depends on the material you're printing. When I started I was almost always printing abs and had to use adhesive to try to keep the print down with varied success regardless of print surface. I have used Kapton tape, CS Hyde PEI sheet (3mil), Buildtak, Geckotek Hot, Painters tape, Glass with glue stick, Glass with hairspray, Glass with 3d printer adhesive (3dsystems cubestick), and generic Buildtak that is included with chinese printers. All of these have worked with varied degrees of success.
    I will list each one below along with what filaments I printed on it and how successful I was.
    First I used blue painters tape for pla and it worked ok as long as I cleaned with alcohol between prints. Most first layers stuck successfully but if you were to close you would pull up pieces of the tape with the print. Having to reapply tape between prints and not getting the best first layer every time is why I switched as it was more pain than it was worth.
    Kapton worked better for pla but I had to get the bed temp right at 68-69 and clean it with rubbing alcohol every print. The nicer thing was that it would not get damaged as easy when removing prints. It still wasn't a perfect first layer every time yet and sometimes filament wouldn't stick (It really didn't like filament with any moisture) so I left it behind.
    Glass with gluestick/hairspray/cubestick worked well but it was a constant pain to apply, then clean, then make sure it was properly dry for best results, and you had to constantly buy more. I was printing abs at the time and warping is a major problem with abs and the cubestick worked the best but here again cleanup and reapply and repurchase, no thanks. I got over buying adhesives and I switched build surfaces and filament at this time to petg and never went back to abs.

    Next was GeckoTek hot and it was my go too for a while. It sticks well when its hot and let's go when it cools and it's great for pla. I however prefer petg and it's good for petg but it doesn't last. You get a good number of prints but if you don't remember to place prints in different spots before you slice you quickly use up the center of the build surface. I went through 5 of these over 1-1.5years of petg (3 on 1 printer and 2 on the other) and thought this was how it was going to be. It does its job its just not a real great long term solution and you need to have an extra around for when one stops working.
    Buildtak that I have used was printing pla and petg. Pla on Buildtak is good. Sticks well but I usually needed a tool to get under the print to pop it off. It does eventually wear out but not as quickly as Geckotek did but Geckotek left a better surface and took less damage between prints. The tool sometimes left marks on the buildtak and this made next prints harder to get to stick down. Petg however is a bit harder on Buildtak. I either had it not really want to stick or be welded to the point of having to pry the print off. In the end it stuck too well and once in a while wouldn't stick at all. Rubbing alcohol helped between prints but not enough so I left this behind in search of better repeat performance.
    Generic buildtak that I have used came preinstalled on some of my printers. I have found it to be almost as good as buildtak but it wears out quicker. My anycubic kossel sheet wore out in a few months and the surface lost the texture and my ender 3 lost the texture but it still works most of the time. Its just not perfect every time first layer for petg, so I left it behind.

    Then I read about printing petg on pei sheets and decided I would try it as the geckotek sheets are not cheap. Wow. Wish I would have tried this sooner. I mean wow. I bought 3mil adhesive backed 3m pei sheet from cs hyde at less than $10 each (geckotek is now a bit cheaper but it was double this price unless on sale) and put it right over the top of the geckotek build surface on my ender 3 test printer and re-leveled. It's perfect for petg and I have no idea about any other filament, because its perfect. The first layer lays down the same way each time and when its cool you can usually tap the print and it comes off or if you need to use a tool you can. I have had to use a tool for a few prints and the film is still exactly the same. No marks or scars at all. I have also been printing everything in the center to see how long it lasts before it stops working. It seems exactly the same as when I first got it. Its so repeatable that I don't watch my first layer at all because I don't have to anymore. Hit print on octoprint and wait until I'm done, unless I change first layer height then I will re-level. I got extra sheets since it was so cheap but I don't know when I will need them. Any of my machines that print petg only have cs hyde 3m pei sheets now (I don't know if cd hyde is a good or bad supplier but its who I used and I assume its real 3m pei). I do clean it every once in a while with rubbing alcohol. If you print petg try 3m pei. I wish I knew this when I started with petg.



      Products I use to scrub or sand:
      The sandpaper can destroy the bed so it should be a last resort only.


        I am testing a new bed surface for adhesion this weekend.

        Dobestfy 9.25 x 9.25: It feels and looks like a Bondtech knockoff. I will post back and let you know how it performs.