PLA Not Sticking to Bed (9 Fixes for 3D Print Bed Adhesion)

Mario De Lio

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Close up of a PLA print not sticking to the bed

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 3D printer bed adhesion is to level the print bed, calibrate the Z offset, 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

Close up of a failed 3D print with no first layer adhesion
This PLA print is not sticking to the bed due to an unleveled 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.

Editor’s Note

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. Calibrate the Z Offset

Close up of the extruder nozzle on an Ender 3 V2 Pro after bed leveling

If your PLA prints are still not sticking to the bed after leveling, the Z offset might be the cause.

The Z-offset refers to the distance between the nozzle tip and the build plate’s surface. It’s a crucial setting that directly influences how well the first layer of filament adheres to the build platform. Too far, and the filament won’t stick properly; too close, and you risk scraping the bed or obstructing the extrusion.

A well-calibrated Z-offset ensures a uniform first layer of filament. Your first layer should stick adequately to the bed without being squished or too loose.

How to Calibrate Z-Offset:

  1. Start with a Level Bed: Before adjusting the Z-offset, ensure your bed is level.
  2. Pre-Heat Your Printer: Bring your printer to the usual printing temperature. Material expansion due to heat can affect the distance between the nozzle and the bed. For PLA, bring the bed to a temperature of 60°C.
  3. Adjust the Z-Offset: You can adjust your Z offset through the printer’s display, firmware, or slicer settings. Adjust in small increments, in 0.01mm to 0.05mm increments. We recommend using the printer’s display to adjust the Z offset. Because once it’s set, you don’t need to worry about it again.
  4. Run a Test Print: Run a test print like this bed leveling test print from Thingiverse to check the Z offset.

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 clean bed is not just about aesthetics. Dust and filament residue from previous prints can impact bed adhesion. A clean bed is pivotal in ensuring that your PLA prints adhere properly.

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 mild detergent or isopropyl alcohol (IPA). Just make sure the IPA has a concentration of over 70%.

After cleaning, allow your print bed to dry before trying to print.

Editor’s Note

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 it doesn’t solve the problem, it’s time to look at your slicer settings.

Tweaking your slicer settings is key to ensuring that PLA sticks well to the print bed, thereby reducing issues like warping or poor layer adhesion.

Let’s look at several slicer settings you can adjust to get your print sticking to the bed.

Bed Temperature

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 the brand of PLA filament.

The ideal bed temperature for printing PLA is between 50°C and 70°C. We advise starting at 50°C and testing 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.

With the fans off, the extruded PLA material cools slower, allowing more time for the plastic to bond with the build surface.

Adjust the Printing Temperature Settings

Raising the printing temperature makes PLA more fluid, ensuring it flows smoothly from the nozzle and spreads more evenly on the bed. Higher temperatures facilitate a stronger bond with the build plate and better layer adhesion, reducing layer separation.

Higher temperatures make the PLA more fluid, allowing it to squish against the bed slightly. The increased surface area creates a stronger bond, reducing layers from warping or pulling away from the 3D printer bed.

The optimal printing temperature for PLA is between 190°C to 220°C. It’s also good to reference the side of your filament spool, which has the recommended print temperatures for the brand of PLA material.

Start at the low end of the manufacturer’s recommended print temperature, or 190°C, and increase the temperature in 5°C increments.

Don’t go hotter than the manufacturer-recommended hot end temperature of 220°C.

Initial Layer Print Speed

The initial layer print speed is slower than the regular print speed. The slower speed allows the filament to bond with the build plate, optimizing PLA adhesion.

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.

5. Use a Brim or Raft

Bed adhesion tools like brims and rafts increase the surface area of your model, reducing the risk of your print not sticking to the bed.

A brim is a strategic extension of your object’s first layer, designed to increase the surface area for better bed adhesion. Brims are particularly useful for prints with small footprints and tall, slender prints acting as stabilizing anchors. However, brims will affect the dimensional accuracy of the bottom layer, but can be easily cleaned with a deburring tool.

A raft serves as a secondary foundation upon which your object is printed. It’s particularly valuable for materials prone to warping or for prints on uneven beds. However, rafts consume more filament than brims and are more challenging to remove. Because your object is printed on top of the raft, removing the raft leaves a rough surface on the print’s base.

I use a brim with most of my prints and clean them with a deburring tool or heat gun. I avoid using rafts because of the marring on the bottom of the prints.

6. Use a Bed Adhesive

If your prints aren’t sticking to the bed, use adhesive aids to enhance build plate adhesion. Bed adhesives are a cheap and easy way to get the first layer to adhere to the printing bed.

There are several bed adhesives that you can use, including:

  • Kapton
  • Painter’s tape
  • Glue sticks
  • Hairspray
  • 3D Gloop!
  • Magigoo

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.

7. Check if Your Nozzle is Clogged

A damaged or clogged nozzle reduces your printer’s ability to extrude filament, impacting first-layer bed adhesion. A 3D printer needs smooth and consistent PLA filament extrusion for the filament to get a good grip on the bed.

Regularly cleaning your 3D printer nozzles is a good way to prevent issues with bed adhesion. You can easily clean your nozzle by cold-pulling filament. It’s best to do this whenever you switch materials, colors, or after five uses.

8. 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
  • Glass
  • Creality Glass (borosilicate glass)
  • Polypropylene
  • Ceramic Glass
  • PEI sheets
  • PC spring steel sheet

Different build plate materials offer varying adhesion and print removal qualities. We recommend tempered glass, PEI sheets, or polypropylene for PLA prints. These options have good performance and promote good adhesion.

Glass beds offer the best build plate adhesion, but their rigid structure makes it difficult to remove 3D prints from the bed. A textured PEI spring steel sheet is my favorite build plate because it offers excellent print adhesion, it’s easy to remove prints, and the first layer has an incredible textured surface.

9. Dry Your PLA Filament

PLA is popular because it is easy to work with. However, 3D printing filaments are hygroscopic, meaning they tend to absorb moisture from the environment.

When not stored correctly, PLA absorbs airborne moisture, reducing bed adhesion. Wet filament 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.

Our Pick
SUNLU Filament Dryer Box
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10. Use an Enclosure

An ender 3 v2 3d printer in a Creality enclosure

Controlling temperature with a 3D printer enclosure is an easy method of ensuring your print sticks to the bed.

Some 3D printers, like the Bambu Lab P1S, 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 a 3D printing enclosure helps ensure a perfect first layer if you struggle with layer adhesion.

Article by

Mario De Lio

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