Why is My 3D Print Not Sticking to the Bed?

One of the most common problems people experience with their 3D printers is the print not sticking to the print bed. Sometimes it’s apparent right from the first layer, other times you’ll think everything is fine but then notice the print lifting, even after a few hours of printing.

Fortunately, this is a common problem with common solutions, so it’s usually easy to fix!

Just work through this checklist in order and fix each step as required.

Surface Area

Firstly, sometimes the obvious answer is the right one… Is the model you’re trying to print realistically going to stick? If you’re printing a model of the Great Pyramid, upside-down with no supports, then you’re being overly optimistic about the abilities of 3D printing! To diagnose your problem, start by printing a known good model. Ideally, one of the g-code files that came with your printer, or a standard test file like Benchy.

Cleanliness

Check your print bed is spotlessly clean. This is most important on a smooth surface like glass, but also high grip surfaces like BuildTak can become contaminated. Scrape off all old filament residue and make sure there’s no grease or old glue present by wiping with alcohol. On a glass bed, I like to use warm water and then glass cleaner.

Print Bed Temperature

Make sure your print bed is reaching the correct temperature. If you have a thermometer (laser thermometers are perfect for this), use it. If you don’t have a thermometer, very carefully place your hand near the bed and see if you can feel its warmth. Remember, print beds can reach temperatures hotter than boiling water, so be careful!

Bed Leveling and Nozzle Gap

Check your print bed is level and at the correct height relative to the nozzle. Do the paper check where you set your nozzle to Z0 and slide a sheet of ordinary copy paper between the nozzle and the bed. You should feel the nozzle gripping the paper but still be able to slide it out. Do this at each of the four corners of the print bed, and then again. When the first layer is printed, you should see that it is squished down onto the bed by the nozzle. If it isn’t being squished, then the gap between your nozzle and bed is too big.

Apply Bed Adhesive

If your print bed is smooth, i.e., it’s made of glass, plastic, or metal then apply an adhesive to it to help the first print layer stick to it. On glass, both glue stick and hairspray work well. Aquanet hairspray is a favorite, but any cheap ‘extra hold’ hairspray will work.

Personally, I use Elmer’s disappearing glue so I can see where I’ve applied it. If you don’t have glue, you can apply blue painters’ tape or Kapton tape instead. Make sure any tape you apply is very even and level and then re-level your bed.

Try a Higher Nozzle Temperature

Try printing your first few layers at a higher temperature. Add 10C to the nozzle temperature you’re currently using and try again.

Use a Brim

Your slicing software will most likely have the option to add a brim to your g-code. This makes the printer print a flat layer all around the perimeter of your object. This not only creates a larger area to bond to the print bed, but it also gives the nozzle a chance to clear and start extruding correctly before starting on the print itself.

Troubleshooting

Ninety-nine percent of the time, these simple steps will solve the problem.

If these steps don’t work for you, then you should look at the following possible problems with your 3D printer:

Is the Nozzle blocked?

Although you may see filament being extruded, it’s possible your nozzle is partially blocked. This is usually easy to diagnose by raising your nozzle away from the bed and feeding filament through. You should see the molten filament drop straight down vertically. If your nozzle is partially blocked, the extruded filament will often curl up and back on itself.

Are there Draughts or Cold Ambient Temperatures?

If you are 3D printing in a cold room, or there are cold air draughts in the room, both of these can cause your print to warp as it cools, lifting it away from the 3D printer bed.

Warping is especially troublesome with materials such as ABS but can affect PLA too.

Your Filament May Contain Moisture

All 3D printer filaments are hygroscopic, that means they absorb moisture from the air. When they contain moisture, they very often become difficult to print and not sticking to the bed is one of the signs of this.

Try using some brand-new filament from a sealed package. If this works, you can dry out your old filament by leaving it in a very low-temperature oven or even better a dehydrator.

If you live in a temperate climate like Europe or most of the USA, then you will have to keep your 3D printer filament in a sealed bag or container with a desiccant like silica gel.

Even if you live in a very hot and dry region, 3D printer filament can still absorb moisture in your home from cooking or showers.

Conclusion

I hope working your way through this list will help you solve your bed sticking problems. I know it can be a frustrating problem, but it is genuinely usually very easy to solve.

If you still have problems, send me a message below, and I’ll do my best to help you fix it.

Happy printing!

-Dylan

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