3D Prints not sticking to bed?

(Last Updated on February 7, 2021)

Two hours into a new print, you look over and see a spaghetti web of PLA filament and a rafted base flopping all over…

It’s happened to us all – your 3D print did not “stick” to your printer’s bed…

But WHY?

Large area prints are more difficult to regulate temperature and keep consistent

Even though 3D printers have come a long way the past half a decade, one of the most common issues with newbies are prints not sticking to the bed. The raft or base of the print comes loose and turns into a spiderweb of PLA and wasted time. Though frustrating at first, this issue is generally easy to overcome when working with PLA or PLA+. ABS and other filaments can be more finicky and require more extreme temperatures and/or enclosure setups.

PLA and PLA+ are the easiest, most widely used, and most consistent printing materials available. Created from sugarcane PLA is completely biodegradable and environmentally friendly including any off gassing done in the printing process.

When deciding on what material you are looking to use think about the structural needs.

-> PLA and PLA+ stiff with enough strength for toys and models, but no flex and is brittle in harsh applications – > easiest to print

-> PETG offers slightly more flexibility and strength than PLA – > medium to easy difficulty for most prints

-> ABS is the best for tools and heavy utility, it is strong and flexible – > high level of difficultly and a 4 sided enclosure is needed for prints

ABS prints will generally need a 3 or 4 sided enclosure to keep the temperature even throughout

The majority of ABS printing that we do on a Creality CR-10 V2 is done inside of a 4 sided enclosure with much higher temps for the nozzle and bed. The enclosure greatly reduces temperature variance throughout the print zone and helps eliminate warping, slippage, and other filament issues. These filaments are much more difficult to work with in general than PLA or PLA+. PETG would be my second favorite in terms of consistency. ABS and Nylon take a lot more effort and diligence to get printing perfectly.

4 sided enclosures maximize both filament and printer performance.

Is it necessary for PLA?

Not at all, but may be needed depending on environment around your printer.

Let’s look at the main causes:

PLA, PETG, ABS, all have different optimal print temperatures
  1. Temperature change
  2. Dust, dirt, oil from hands, other foreign materials
  3. Improper bed leveling

Defeating temperature problems with PLA or PLA+ filament is easy if you can follow the guidelines below before printing.

  • PLA or PLA+ prefers to be at 200 to 230 degrees Celsius
  • Rafted bed of 45 to 65 degrees Celsius
  • Use 3 or 4 side enclosure to reduce airflow/breeze across platform if an issue

All 3D printed filaments have different temperature ratings for both nozzle and bed – make sure you are matching the manufacturers specs.

Choose a 3D printing location wisely!

Choose an insulated room that sustains temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Farenheit). Eliminate any air movement that can create temperature differences in your prints. Any direct air flow, especially something as strong as a fan can do real damage.

Keep it clean and organized – efficiency and effectiveness stays maximized.

Airflow is important but try not to have any direct air blowing onto your print bed. If you need to use a fan, it is best to use them so they are blowing the hot air OUT of the room and not blowing any air towards the PLA being printed. Even the lightest breeze can badly distort and ruin a print.

The “Daily Printer Checklist”

Pre-heating always helps get temperatures more consistent
  1. Ensure printing bed is level
  2. Start pre-heating nozzle and bed
  3. Heat up nozzle and push filament through a tiny bit to ensure old filament can be removed
  4. Clean bed – scrape, wipe down and remove any leftover material
  5. Spray bed with hairspray or use glue stick for difficult prints

Hairspray or Elmer’s Glue Sticks are a great hack for keeping your bed “sticky”!

Cheap hairspray works wonders

Every .stl or .obj is different and will vary in the need for support structures in your printing files. It’s always a great idea to do a couple of benchmark prints for your printer to see how it reacts to various angles, drop offs, and vertical ledges in your print files.

We love using the benchmark files at thingiverse.com for excellent results.

Checkout 3DBenchy – The jolly 3D printing torture-test by CreativeTools

Try a few different PLA, PLA +, and PETG materials in each print to see the variability based on material and the temperatures your print at.