9 Ways Of How to Remove 3D Prints from the Bed

9 Ways Of How to Remove 3D Prints from the Bed

Congratulations on fine-tuning your slicer, fixing your printer and getting a great printout of it! Unfortunately, there seems to be one obstacle left: getting the part off of the build plate. When printing, it is important to have good adhesion between the extruded material and the surface, but too much adhesion can lead to a struggle when trying to remove your part.  

Removing a 3D print from the build plate sounds fairly simple, but can often be far more complicated than initially assumed. Even with highly adherent materials such as PETG, too much first-layer adhesion can make the removal process difficult and risk damaging either the part or the build plate. To minimize this threat, it is important to be fully aware of the 3D printer’s capabilities and settings to ensure that your print will release easily. 

How to Remove 3D Prints from the Bed

While there are various methods that can be used to get the job done, we’ll be discussing the most common tools of the trade. For each approach, we’ll provide an overview of what you’ll need to have on hand as well as easy-to-follow step-by-step directions.

Use Brutal Force

The first approach is simple to understand using brute force. It is the simplest method for removing prints from build plates and can help save a lot of time if done correctly. All that is required in this process is your hands, but you must be mindful when using them as a sudden release of the part could cause injury. To use this technique, hold the plate firmly with one hand while using the other to push or pull on the print until it comes free. 

Instead, try prying the component off the bed with a powerful object. Taking a strong object like a flathead screwdriver and using it to prise apart the print from the bed can be especially helpful if there are gaps between the print and the surface of the build plate. 

However, this brute-force method should only be employed on prints which have enough structural integrity not to get damaged during removal. For heavily detailed prints with multiple intricate parts, trying to pry them off could potentially crush or deform various features, so take care when deciding which method will be most effective in removing your print from its bed.

Use a Sharp Flat Blade

The second (and arguably most popular) method of removing a part is to use a flat, sharp blade, such as a spatula. It’s easy to find the right tool for your job too; options vary from paint scrapers and screwdrivers to razor blades. For smaller components in your build, opting for a BuildTak spatula or plastic razor blade might be your best option. For larger parts, you should consider using a filling knife- its long, thin blade make it perfect for getting into those hard-to-reach spots. 

The most crucial thing to keep in mind when using a blade, regardless of the kind, is safety. Whether you’re carving out a plug or scraping away leftovers. Beware that parts may come loose or cause injury without proper caution. Keep in mind to always point the blade away from yourself to ensure maximum safety. To prevent a damaged print surface, be sure to keep it clean so it can be properly levelled and future prints don’t suffer from bad adhesion.

Change the build plate

Another simple solution is to switch to a flexible build plate can alleviate much of the headache associated with traditional print surfaces. Flexible build plates are made specifically to bend easily, so you can simply flex the plate in order to remove the print. There is no need for extra tools or tedious manual labour.  On the market today there are several top brands like Prusa, BuildTak, and Easy-Peelzy available for people looking to make this switch.

When making the decision to upgrade to a flexible bed for your printer, there are a few factors you must consider. Most importantly, You should confirm that the plate’s dimensions and compatibility with the printer are adequate for the printer. It is also important to take into account whether a thicker plate could block an inductive sensor. 

Installing a flexible bed from metal or other materials can come with plenty of additional benefits such as having a textured or smooth surface, allowing you to experiment and find the perfect adhesive finish for the best printing results.

Once you’ve gone through the pre-print steps of securing the build plate to your printer, levelling the bed, and setting the Z offset, it’s time to start printing. After your object is completed and cooled off enough to handle it safely, you can easily detach it from the bed for removal simply by bending the build plate gently until it pops off. If it won’t come free right away, try changing directions and wiggling around – this will usually release parts that are sticking too hard.

Use Raft

Our fourth technique is to enable a raft in your 3D slicer (such as Cura). Enabling a raft in your 3D slicer can be a great way to ensure that your model will be properly affixed to the build plate during 3D printing. Rafts are not only meant to improve bed adhesion but act as an additional source of protection for your print as well. After the print has finished and you’ve removed it from the build plate, you can go ahead and discard the raft without hesitation as it is designed to protect the actual print, not be kept and used again.

Whether you’re simply testing out a model or going in for a large-scale manufacturing run, enabling a raft is highly recommended for quality prints. However, The increase in printing time and filament usage is the biggest drawback of employing a raft.

Most slicing software features adjustable raft settings like the number of top layers, making them easy to customize depending on what type of part is being printed and how strong the connection between the part and raft should be. Once your model is done printing, you can choose to either remove the part from the raft first or carefully remove it from the build plate while leaving the raft intact. 

Removing a raft almost always makes more sense than using other methods. Not only is the removal process much easier due to the optimized geometry of a raft, but you can also take any approach you deem applicable as long as you are only touching the raft itself. This helps to protect any intricate model features and reduces the chances of damaging your print during the removal process. The other methods on this list are always available if you need to remove the raft, but given its geometries, removal should be considerably simpler. 

Use Glue, Tape to remove objects easily

Our fifth technique is quick and simple. To increase the adhesion of your 3D print is to put a buffer layer between the build plate and your print. Employing non-printable materials like tape or glue instead of a raft. It is comparable to using a raft. 

Painter’s tape, PEI sheets that can be peeled off and ordinary glue sticks are just a few of the alternatives for these buffer layers.

If you are looking to use speciality additives for your 3D printing needs, you will need to take a few steps. Firstly, ensure that the buffer layer is applied and that your Z offset is correctly recalibrated to make up for the increase in build plate height. After these quick preparations have been taken, then you can proceed with the 3D printing process. Depending on what type of additive was used in the process, you may need to remove either part or all of the buffer layer after completion. For glue additives specifically, you can run the plate under water so that parts are easier to take off afterwards. 

Vary the temperatures

Another method for removing a print of the bed is to cool it down. Heated materials expand, and therefore, when thermoplastics are cooled down they contract. This contraction can make parts easy to pop off from their build plates. Additionally, this method works particularly well when the build surface is something like glass or aluminium which responds better to temperature changes than other materials do.

To perform this, the build plate and the print cool to room temperature first is essential; this allows it to reach its natural contraction point. Then, placing the plate (with the stuck piece) in an area like a refrigerator, freezer or a vent spewing cold air for a few minutes can help as well, as this will cause further contraction of both materials allowing for easier removal. 

Try removing your print after a few minutes or when the bed has gotten cold. The print ought should simply peel off. If it doesn’t, try re-freezing the build plate for a while or try another approach from this list.

If you’re working with a glass bed for 3D printing, it’s absolutely essential to ensure that the build plate is at room temperature before putting it in the fridge or freezer. Thermal shock can cause problems if you fail to do this; when moving an object quickly between two different temperatures, the object may become damaged due to the sudden change. 

Use Dental floss or jewellery-type threads

Traditional methods often fail due to the extreme force needed to remove the part from its place. Fortunately, there exists an inventive approach involving dental floss and other string-like products such as jewellery wire or soldering wire. 

With this technique, you must see back and forth with the floss, just like you would with a real saw. By doing this, it creates friction that aids in removing the part trapped in the bed of your 3D printer.

Just loop the floss or wire around the base of your print and, without putting too much pressure on it, pull it towards you rapidly. You’ll hear a few popping sounds as your part gives way and releases itself from the build plate, after which you will be rewarded with a rich, fresh smell. 

Apply cold water

In this method, all you have to do is run cool or cold water over the build plate and part until everything is cooled down. This process is akin to popping your print into the fridge and creating the intentional temperature difference between the material of the part and the plate that allows for separation. 

To make sure nothing stays attached, after cooling check to see if there are any remaining adhesives like glue or hairspray on your print, running warm (not hot) water onto the base usually helps remove these residues.

If the part is still stuck to the build plate after running a hot water soak, it’s time to try cooling the plate instead. Running cool or even cold water over the plate for several minutes can loosen up any remaining adhesive since it will become less sticky as it gets colder. A helpful tip is to avoid getting the print itself wet by directing only the water over the build surface or just the printed part if possible. 

Not only will this help reduce excess moisture on your model, but you also have a better chance of relieving any tension between it and the build platform. After a short period of especially cold water running across the part, you may find that it has become unstuck and can easily be removed with your hands or a tool like a spatula.

Use Solvent

Utilizing a solvent is the last technique we will use to remove a part of the build plate. It is important to remember that while solvents can be an effective way of removing parts from the build plate, they should not be used as your first option. Many print surfaces, particularly those made from PEI sheets, painter’s tape, or similar materials are not well suited for the use of solvents and could become damaged. 

If you have identified your 3D printing problem and have concluded that removing part of the printing from the bed is required, a few solvents can be used for this task. Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and acetone are two of the most popular options. Both are excellent choices as each will soften the area on which your print rests, allowing you greater control when imparting movement with a prying tool or spatula while attempting to remove it.

It is critical, however, not to use too much solvent – excess application could lead to lasting issues like surface degradation. In short, applying a sensible amount of solvent to connection points during 3D printing builds is an optimal choice for a successful end product.

Gunaseelan Murugesan
Author | Website

Experienced Project Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the field of Product Design & Development industry in Mechanical Engineering. Skilled in 3D Printing and Re engineering Technologies with CATIA V5 , Materials Science, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Mimics, ANSYS Workbench and Casting Simulation software. Strong engineering professional with a Master’s Degree focused in Industrial Metallurgy from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore.

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