First layer adhesion

The print is not sticking on the bed, is one of the most common and discussed problems in 3D printing. The first layer is very important for the whole print. On this layer all the other layers will be placed. A good adhesion to printbed is necessary, because the print would lift from the printbed and the print must be aborted. There are many different things you can do against to cope with this first layer adhesion problem.

Use an Adhesive or heated buildplate

There are many types on the market like PrintaFix, glue stick, other wipe-on or spray-on adhesives or print surfaces like PEI, Buildtak or even unheated Bluetape. It´s important to set the correct temperature of your heated bed for each material and adhesive.

For PrintaFix we recommend the following settings:

  • PLA: first layer 210°C (410° Fahrenheit) no heated print surface.
  • ABS: first layer 235-245°C (455-473° Fahrenheit) with 5mm brim and a 100-105°C (212-221° Fahrenheit) heated bed.
  • PET-G: first layer 225°C (437° Fahrenheit) and a 70-80°C (158-176° Fahrenheit) heated bed.

Adjust the first Layer

If the distance from the nozzle to the printbed is not set properly, you can adjust the first layer height to counterbalance it. As usual a good first layer height is 70-90%. Consider that a nozzle which is too close to the bed, will not extrude material and other problems will arise like “Elephant foot”. When the nozzle is too far away, warping will be the result.

Level the Build Plate

To level your printbed and to set the height of your nozzle properly, please follow the instruction of your 3D printer.

To set up the proper nozzle height or more accurately, set the correct zero position for the Z-axis helps reduce warping, getting rid of an elephant foot, but also helps to extrude the right amount at the first layer. Most 3D printers do not have a way of sensing when the nozzle touches your print surface, they just rely on an endstop or a separate sensor to probe the bed. For both cases, you usually need to manually set the zero position. The exact procedure differs from printer to printer, but the general idea is usually the same:
Make sure the nozzle is clean and ideally, heated up so that any boogers will get wiped away by the paper.

Use a thin piece of paper for stiffer beds (about 90g per m2 or 0.1mm thickness) and a thicker paper for springy beds (about 300g per m2 or 0.25mm thickness, e.g. a business card).

Adjust the endstop or sensor offset until you can feel a slight resistance from sliding the card around when the printer is at the zero position for the Z-axis. Most printers have a semi-automatic mode, by which the print head travels to several defined spots on the print surface and you must set up the nozzle height manually. If not, start in the centre of the bed for a first rough adjustment, make your way around the bed and repeat for each adjustment point. Move the print head as close as possible to the adjusters and tweak them until you get an even resistance with the calibration cards at each of them.

Use a brim

A brim is a printed structure which is attached to your print and increases the surface area of the part to stabilize it or to increase the adhesion. Brims usually have 10-15 outlines and may be 1-2 layers tall.