Apr 28, 2019

3D Print Warping – 10 Easy Fixes for PLA, PETG & ABS

If PLA, ABS, or PETG prints cool unevenly, they can lose their grip on the build plate and curl, creating a warped bottom layer. Here are 10 easy ways to fix 3D print warping.

3D Print Warping – PETG/ABS/PLA Warping What Is It?

A warped 3D print is a wasted 3D print. Source: All3DP

Whenever some part of your printing object starts to curl upwards, you’ve got a warped 3D print on your hands. This problem occurs because the temperature differences between layers of extruded plastic is too big. This in turn creates tension within the model, and when it gets to be too much, lower layers start to drag or lift, creating a warp.

3D Print Warping – PETG/ABS/PLA Warping Why Does It Occur?

Preventing warping means carefully balancing temperatures. Source: Innofil3D

Filaments used in FDM 3D printing are usually thermoplastics, a material that in certain temperature ranges changes its properties. In 3D printing, we heat the filament to somewhere beyond it’s melting point so that, in its liquid form, it can be extruded onto a build plate.

While heating, besides becoming liquid, thermoplastics also expand. And when it cools down, returning to a solid, it shrinks again. This transformation creates some movement in extruded plastics, the root of 3D print warping: colder layers pulling on still hotter ones. And if this occurs when the hotter layers are below the colder ones, the 3D printed object will be forced to let go of the grip on the build surface, and curl.

To make matters worse, the problem can literally pop up after a good portion of the print job is already finished, ruining an otherwise perfect print!

If we could keep the whole 3D printed model at the exact same temperature at all times, not even a tiny corner of the model would try to warp. But this is pretty much impossible. What we can do is trying to keep the 3D printed model’s temperature as even as possible. And we can also do our best to convince the model to hold on to the build surface, like its life depended on it!


3D Print Warping – PETG/ABS/PLA Warping Regulate the Temperature

Source: Ethan Sommer / All3DP
  1. Use a heated bed. This helps even out the temperature in the model. A heated build plate also helps with bed adhesion. Usually, the filament manufacturer gives recommended bed temperatures.
  2. Use an enclosed print chamber. This helps maintain a constant temperature throughout the model during the whole 3D print job.
  3. Control room temperature. Do this by keeping windows and doors closed. (Just remember that you still need air to breathe!) Prevent any kind of cold air from suddenly touching the 3D print.
  4. Adjust the cooling. This can be tricky, as you need to cool the filament for better bridging, less stringing and to allow the melted plastic to return to a solid fast enough to build an accurate geometry. But turning off or lowering the speed of the cooling fans that are directed at the 3D print, at least for the first few layers, may help to even out temperatures enough too keep your model flat on the build plate.

3D Print Warping – PETG/ABS/PLA Warping Use Adhesives

Magigoo 3D glue stick is one of several great solutions to enhance bed adhesion and help prevent warping. Source: Magigoo
  1. Use hair spray. This helps to establish a good grip for most types of filaments. You can also use a special 3d print bed spray like 3DLac. As always, trywith small parts first, to make sure that the product does not grip too well on your build surface, destroying it when removing the model.
  2. Use a PVA glue stick. You can also use a specially formulated bed adhesion product, like Magigoo 3D Printer Bed Adhesion. This makes PLA and many other filaments stick to the build plate. With PVA glue you just spread a thin, even layer on your build plate. The same principle goes for other products. Beware that some solutions may create too strong of a bed adhesion on certain build plates, making it difficult to remove 3D prints without damaging the build surface.

3D Print Warping – PETG/ABS/PLA Warping Change Your Slicer's Settings

A skirt compared to a brim. Source: Fab Academy
  1. Print slower. You would be surprised how often slower print speeds can help solve the most stubborn printing problems, like warping and curling. Remember to also lower the nozzle temperature accordingly.
  2. Create a brim or skirt in your slicer. One or a few extra layers of outlines printed with zero offset from your part. This gives your model a wider bottom area, enhancing the grip to the build surface.
  3. Add a raft. This makes the base of your 3D printed model bigger, which creates a better grip to the build surface. After 3D printing, the raft should be easy to pry of the model.
  4. Add mouse ears. In other words, small discs a couple of layers high that you 3D print under your model to enhance bed adhesion on corners. Place the discs on the build plate in your slicer so that they barely touche each corner of the model. Then it will be a piece of cake to remove them from your model when your print job is done.  You can download some ready made mouse ears from tugeagon on Thingiverse. Or use a CAD software, like Rhino 3D, to draw your own mouse ears.

3D Print Warping – PETG/ABS/PLA Warping Related Articles

A case of "elephant foot". Source: AMTech3D

Are you facing other issues when 3D printing? Then have a look at the following articles to perfect your prints!

Feature image source: Simplify3D

License: The text of "3D Print Warping – 10 Easy Fixes for PLA, PETG & ABS" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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