When 3D printing, it’s vital to ensure good adhesion of your print to the build plate. If the print does not stick well to the build plate, there’s a chance that it will become loose and that the print will fail.
This page contains several tips for improving the adhesion of your print to the build plate. Good adhesion will also minimize the amount of warping (the corners of the material curling up at the bottom layer of a print). For further advice about warping problems, we recommend reading this page in our troubleshooting section.
Build plate leveling
Good adhesion starts with a well-calibrated build plate. The distance between the nozzle and build plate should be set correctly. Too wide a gap will result in a loose first layer, which may cause your print to separate from the build plate while printing. Equally, the calibration should not be too tight, as this may stop the filament from extruding correctly. To see an example of a successful first layer, click here. If necessary, you can adjust the build plate before starting a new print.
Heated build plate temperature
Most Ultimaker printers have a heated build plate. When using a heated build plate, you need to check that the correct temperature is used. This ensures that the first layer(s) of the print stay warm and don’t contract due to cooling. Using the correct build plate temperature starts with selecting the right material profile on the printer and in Cura. To find out which temperature you need for your material, please refer to these material guides.
When experiencing adhesion problems it sometimes helps to slightly increase the build plate temperature, but this shouldn’t be necessary in most cases. Please note, for non-Ultimaker materials, you may have to use different temperatures to the default values.
To achieve good adhesion, the print surface needs to be smooth and clean. There should be no traces of oil, grease or fingerprints on the build plate. Some materials may require an adhesive on the build plate (e.g. glue). Refer to our material guides to find out what the recommended adhesion method is for the material you’re using.
It’s also important to regularly clean the build plate. Without this, the print surface may become uneven, which could cause adhesion problems. Please note, when using tape or an adhesion sheet on the build plate, you must replace it regularly. If you use glue on the build plate, make sure you clean it afterwards. Excessive glue can be removed with water (and soap), and alcohol cleaner is effective for getting rid of greasy fingerprints.
Materials that require a high build plate temperature (e.g. PC and CPE+) benefit from a stable printing environment. If the maximum build plate temperature of 110 °C is used, cooler airflows from the environment can cause adhesion problems, and in extreme cases, may cause the print to separate from the build plate.
To create a controlled environment inside the 3D printer, it is recommended that you use the front door (included in the Advanced 3D Printing Kit) for these materials. This ensures a stable temperature of around 45 °C inside the printer, leading to a higher success rate and better print quality.
In addition to the physical adjustments detailed above, our software Cura also offers some settings that help improve adhesion.
Platform adhesion types
In Cura’s settings panel you’ll find ‘Build plate adhesion’ settings, which let you choose from a range of adhesion types.
One of the adhesion types is called a ‘brim’. This places a single-layer-thick flat area around the object, thus creating a larger adhesion surface. Print warping is minimized by this. After printing, the brim can be removed easily.
Another option Cura offers is called a ‘raft’. This is a flat grid structure under your print, which helps it adhere to the build plate. It is particularly useful when printing with materials that easily loosen from the build plate.
Depending on the material chosen, one of these adhesion types is set by default. Please note, you can change this depending on your model and preferences.
First layer settings
Cura offers two other settings relating to the first layer of the print: the initial layer speed and initial layer height.
Using a low initial layer speed ensures that the material has enough time to properly adhere to the build plate. For most materials, an initial layer speed of 20 mm/s is recommended (this is set by default in the Cura profiles).
The initial layer height determines the thickness of the print’s bottom layer. In Cura, the initial layer height is set fairly high in most profiles, to make the first layer easier to print. For a smoother bottom layer with less visible print traces, simply decrease the initial layer height. Be aware, when using a lower initial layer height, the calibration of the build plate becomes more critical, and must be leveled properly.