You just got a 3D printer and it’s been printing great right? But you’re starting to notice your corners lifting, edges warping and maybe even the model being pulled off the bed. The bottom line is your prints are just not sticking to your building platform anymore, If that is the case then this is definitely something you should read!
From R30,000 Makerbots to the R3000 RepRaps, almost every printer has the same issue with print lift and you can Google search a solution until your fingers fall off, there is no single solution for every situation. Bed temperature, extruding thickness, bed leveling, material types, the list goes on and it’s safe to say there are plenty of variables that can cause this dreaded print lift. I’ve created a small list to help fix this problem and push out some incredible looking prints!
5) First and foremost, having a heated bed or not makes a HUGE difference. So if you don’t have one yet, find out how to get one installed for your printer. You will remove 80% of these problems by just getting a heated bed. This being said, printing on sandblasted glass works wonders as the tiny course holes in the surface helps keep the print stuck. If you can’t use glass, aluminum plates works just as well! Also, If you can’t afford a heated bed right now, keep reading, the other methods work just as well with a cold bed.
4) Bed leveling. I cannot stress how important it is to have your bed as level as physically possible, not just level to your eye but level in regards to how far your nozzle is away from the bed at any given time. When leveling your bed, make sure you can slide a piece of paper, folded in half, between the nozzle and the bed and you should feel a slight drag. You always want a really good thick first layer of print before the extruder starts on the rest of the model, this helps keep the print firm and pressed to the surface.
3) Ambient temperature can also play a big role in the quality of prints you get, especially with ABS. If your ambient temperature is too cold where you’re printing IE: The air conditioner is on, or you’re next to a window or fan. The model will end up cooling too fast and your ABS printed model will start to shrink. Material shrinkage is what will cause your lift.
If you find print results as something like the above, try box your print up as best as you can, keep the model and warmth inside the printing area, It will reduce cracking, shrinkage and ultimately lift.
2) Printing with a raft can greatly increase your chance of a successful print. More surface area is covered by the print allowing a better stick than you would get without. If lift still occurs, the raft edges will usually lift first without compromising the main print. An alternative to using raft is creating your model with what is known as Corner Helper Disks.
In Makerware there is an option to add these to the corner of your models right before you print which is real handy! It helps to keep the corners down and flat against the surface.
1) Now if you’re reaching the end of this list and thinking. “But I’ve tried all of these, and nothing seems to work! I don’t even have a heated bed, I’m doomed!” Don’t fear because here is the number 1 fix that I have used countless times as a last ditch emergency effort. This can be done on a heated bed or without. (if without, make sure you lay some Kapton Tape down beforehand to protect your bed). First, decant about 30ml of acetone into a glass bottle. Take some small, failed, ABS prints and put them inside. Let the ABS dissolve in the acetone. Once the ABS has dissolved, repeat this step until you find the acetone goes milky white in colour. Now just apply this mixture to an old rag and smear it on your build platform. This coats the platform with a thin layer of ABS, of which when the acetone evaporates will be left behind, creating a giant bed sized raft. I often find that it sticks so well I struggle to get the print off the bed but I’m not complaining. This method is used by a lot of 3D printer enthusiasts as a last resort and they swear by it.
As I said before, everyone has their own fix for lift and curling. Some guys even spray a fine coat of their wife’s hairspray on their build platform (don’t ask me, apparently this works!). If you had a problem with 3D prints lifting and found your own fix, let us know!