PLA is the most popular type of 3D printing filament. It’s easy to use and produces high-quality prints.
Your first layer adhesion is essential for ensuring a high-quality print. But PLA not sticking to bed is a common problem.
The best method to fix PLA adhesion is to level the print bed, adjust your slicer settings, and ensure your build plate isn’t warped or damaged.
Keep reading for complete information on the nine easy solutions to fix PLA not sticking to bed.
1. Level the Print Bed
As with most issues in 3D printing, leveling the print bed solves most problems with PLA bed adhesion.
Without a level print bed, the nozzle could lose contact with the print bed, causing the PLA not to stick. The extruded plastic may stick to some areas of the print bed but not others, leading to a failed print.
When you level the print bed, you want to keep a 0.1mm distance between the surface of the bed and the print nozzle. You can use a standard A4 piece of paper to achieve the proper distance.
Manual bed leveling involves using the bed knobs to raise and lower the bed’s four corners. Place a piece of paper under the nozzle and adjust it until you begin to feel resistance when wiggling the paper.
Do this until you feel the same resistance at all four corners and the middle of the bed.
If you have an automatic leveling tool, simply run a leveling sequence. An auto-bed leveling sensor makes it easy to level your print bed.
Tip: If you’re using an automatic leveling tool such as the BL Touch or CR Touch, it’s essential to set the value of the Z Offset.
2. Change the Z Offset
If your PLA prints are still not sticking to the bed, the Z offset might be the cause. The Z offset value is the distance between the extrusion nozzle and the home position of the Z-axis.
Many people overlook the Z offset when calibrating their 3D printer. For the most part, that’s ok. If you follow the proper bed leveling sequence, your nozzle will be in a good enough spot. And you may never need to adjust the Z offset.
Adjusting the Z Offset is an extra option to get a more precise bed leveling and a better first layer.
If the Z Offset is too high or too low, it could impact print quality.
Not to mention a low Z Offset could result in a damaged print bed.
The Z Offset setting is typically around 80%. At 80%, the nozzle squishes the thin layer of filament against the bed, providing better bed adhesion.
Adjust the nozzle 0.05mm at a time until you’re happy with the first layer.
There’s no easy way to find the right Z Offset value. You’ll just have to keep testing. While testing different values is repetitive, improving print quality is worth the effort.
3. Clean the Bed
When was the last time you cleaned your print bed?
For most people, it’s either been a while or never.
A dirty print bed can cause poor first-layer adhesion. Dirt, dust, oils, and old filament residue can make the surface uneven.
Regular cleaning is essential if you use glue or painter’s tape to help your prints adhere to the bed.
Most of the time, a wet cloth is all you’ll need to clean the bed.
But if that doesn’t remove all the dirt and residue, you can use a cleaning solution like acetone or IPA. Just make sure the IPA has a concentration of over 70%.
After cleaning, allow your print bed to dry before trying to print.
Tip: Heat the build plate to 40°C while you clean to allow for faster trying.
4. Adjust the Slicer Settings
If leveling your print bed and cleaning the print bed doesn’t solve the problem, it’s time to look at your slicer settings.
When adjusting your slicer settings, it’s best to make one change at a time. This way, you’ll be able to diagnose which setting fixed your problem.
Well, look at several slicer settings you can adjust to get your print sticking to the bed.
Bed temperature is a critical setting for ensuring good bed adhesion.
The bed temperature depends on the build plate material, any adhesives you use, and what type of PLA you use.
The ideal bed temperature for printing PLA is somewhere between 50°C and 70°C. Our advice is to start at 50°C and test prints at 5°C increases.
If you still have issues after setting the bed temperature to 70°C, move on to the next setting.
Turn Off the Cooling Fan For the First Few Layers
Most 3d printers come with a cooling fan which helps cool the filament after it’s extruded.
If you’re having trouble with your build surface adhesion, try turning the fan off during the first two or three layers.
The PLA will cool at a slower rate when the cooling fan is off. The slower cooling process helps to improve bed adhesion.
Adjust the Printing Temperature Settings
Higher printer temperatures soften the filament allowing it to stick to the bed. If your filament isn’t soft enough, it might not adhere.
The optimal printing temperature for PLA is between 190°C to 220°C.
As we calibrated the bed temperatures, start at 190°C and if it doesn’t work, increase the temperature in 5°C increments.
Initial Layer Print Speed
The following setting to test is your initial layer print speed. Overall, printing speed is essential for improving the quality of your prints and layer-to-layer adhesion. But for proper print bed adhesion, you’ll want to focus on the first layer printing speed.
For printing PLA, anywhere between 20 mm/s to 40mm/s works well.
Start with a speed of 40 mm/s and decrease the speed in increments of 5 mm/s.
Brim and Raft Settings
You may want to try printing with a brim or raft for large or top-heavy prints.
A brim or raft will likely solve the problem if your PLA prints fail in the middle to late printing stages.
Both options provide extra support and increase the surface area of the print.
Most slicing software adds a rim as a default. Rims are good for ensuring your filament is loaded correctly and extruding at the proper depth, but they don’t help with adherence.
It’s best to start with a brim, then move to a raft if you still have problems. Rafts use a large amount of filament, ultimately ending up in the trash – a waste for the environment and our pocketbooks.
When possible, use a brim instead of a raft. But if a raft gets the print to stick, go for it.
5. Use a Bed Adhesive
If your prints aren’t sticking to the bed, try using adhesive aids to enhance build plate adhesion. Bed adhesives are particularly helpful for getting the first layer to adhere to the printing bed.
There are several bed adhesives that you can use, including:
- Painter’s tape
- Glue sticks
- 3D Gloop!
When using bed adhesives, less is more. Make sure you apply thin layers in even coats to the build plate.
If you overdue the additives, you’ll have difficulty cleaning the build plate after each print. And in the case of Kapton and painter’s tape, too much can throw off your leveling.
6. Check if Your Nozzle is Clogged
A damaged or clogged nozzle can make it more difficult for your prints to stick to the bed. A 3D printer needs to extrude PLA filament smoothly and consistently for the filament to get a good grip on the bed.
If the nozzle is clogged or damaged, it will affect print quality and build plate adhesion.
Try a “Cold Pull” or use a cleaning filament to unclog the nozzle.
7. Your Build Plate
If you’ve tried the above tips and you’re still struggling with your layer adhesion, you might want to swap out your build plate.
It’s uncommon, but build plates can fail – especially cheap ones. Warped, cracked, or damaged beds are hard to level. And they don’t provide a good print surface for PLA to adhere to.
Grab a ruler or straight edge and test the heated bed to check if your print bed is warped.
If your build plate is warped, it’s time for a replacement.
There are several options you can choose for your build plate, including:
- Prusa’s sprint steel sheets
- Creality Glass (borosilicate glass)
- Ceramic Glass
- PEI sheets
- PC spring steel sheet
Each material has pros and cons. We recommend tempered glass, PEI sheets, or polypropylene for PLA prints. These options have good performance and promote good adhesion.
The HICTOP Flexible Steel Platform with PEI Surface is my go-to print bed for PLA.
8. Dry Your PLA Filament
PLA is popular because it is easy to work with. But 3D printing filaments are hygroscopic, meaning they tend to absorb moisture from the environment.
When not stored correctly, PLA has poor bed adhesion. It also creates imperfections on your final prints, such as zits and blobbing.
The good news is that you can dry PLA filament and restore its natural bed adhesion and printing properties.
9. Use an Enclosure
Another method control temperature is to print inside an enclosure.
Some 3D printers already have a built-in chamber. If yours does, you can skip this step.
If your printer has no built-in enclosure, you can buy one or build your own. The enclosure helps to shield your print from the cooling effects of the air in your home.
Printing with high-temperature filaments like ABS or Polycarbonate requires an enclosure to eliminate thermal stress.
But you generally don’t need an enclosure to print PLA. But if you’re struggling with layer adhesion, it could help.
Final Thoughts: PLA Not Sticking to Bed
Proper first-layer bed adhesion is essential for creating high-quality prints. Most bed adhesion problems can be solved with a level print bed, cleaning the build surface, and adjustment of print settings.
If you’re still struggling to achieve good bed adhesion, you can try bed adhesive, adjusting the Z Offset, or purchasing a new bed surface.