3D printing the first layer is essential for every FDM 3D print, as it forms the foundation on which more plastic is to be laid. If the first layer adheres poorly to the print surface, the print may dislodge before it is completed, leading to a failure. Over-adhesion should also be avoided, as prints will become difficult to remove. Every first layer is about striking the balance between print stability and ease of removal.
To start off, level your print surface properly. Many newer printers have automatic leveling, so if this is you, just make sure that you’ve run the leveling sequence already. For 3D printers without automatic leveling, we have a handy guide on how to get your bed level.
Once you’re done leveling, follow along to find some excellent tips for addressing 3D printing first layer problems!
The key step in guaranteeing a successful first layer is to optimize your print settings. By tuning the first layer settings in your slicer, you can ensure that the first layer succeeds without changing how the rest of the print will look. Here are some of the most useful settings:
With that, your first layer settings should be ready to go! Next, we’ll dive into maintaining the print surface.
If your print surface is dirty and greasy, your freshly-tuned first layer settings won’t do much. The first layer will most likely fail to adhere, and your print will fail.
To avoid this, wipe down your print bed before every print, or at least between every few. This can be done with isopropyl alcohol (normal rubbing alcohol, or IPA) and a paper towel. It only takes a couple seconds, but will prove to be a great saver. It may also be helpful to keep a bottle of IPA stored in a drawer nearby.
Finally, make sure that you consider the materials at hand. This goes for both the filament you’re printing with, as well as your printer’s print surface. Try following these tips to avoid mishaps.
Apply an adhesion helper to the bed. This includes hairspray, blue painter’s tape, and standard household gluestick. These will help stubborn materials stick, and will also serve as release agents for materials that stick too well, preventing damage to your print surface. A thin layer should do the trick.
Avoid printing directly onto the bed with TPE’s and PETG’s. This goes with the previous tip but deserves its own mention. TPE and PETG’s are notorious for sticking too well to print surfaces, and will quite possibly tear out pieces of any surface you have, including PEI, Kapton tape, and even glass. Always use a release agent for these materials.
And with that, you’re ready to tackle the first layer for a wider range of materials!
There! Now, you’re ready to nail the first layer of each 3D print, building solid foundations for successful printing. Keep these tips in mind whenever you encounter first layer issues, and troubleshoot accordingly!
Feature image source: Daniel Mietchen / Wikimedia Commons
License: The text of "3D Printing First Layer Problems – How to Make it Perfect" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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