PLA Not Sticking to Bed? Learn 14 Ways To Fix It

PLA known as Poly Lactic Acid Filament is widely used in the 3D printing world. Printing with PLA is easy as compared to all other filament types. But sometimes, problems like PLA not sticking to bed arise irrespective of the bed types such as PEI, Glass, or Magnetic Surface. 

To make PLA stick to the bed, one needs to ensure the below things: 

  • The print bed needs to be leveled properly
  • Set the print bed temperature to the right value 
  • Use Brim / Raft for a wider and strong base foundation for the object 
  • Ensure the nozzle is clean and not clogged 
  • Keep the print bed clean.   

Above are the major steps to avoid PLA not sticking to bed. However, there is a lot more to learn about it. So find in the blog below:

Why Does the Problem of PLA Not Sticking to Bed Surface Arise?

In 3D printing, the first layer plays a vital role and it needs to be printed well. Any variation in the first layer interrupts the success rate and reduces the strength of the whole print object. 

To print a 3D object with great quality and precision, the first layer should stick to the print bed strongly and effectively. This is also called 3D print bed adhesion. 

Although PLA filament is easy to print, often it causes sticking problems. Below are some of the reasons for PLA not sticking to Bed surface: 

  • Errors in print bed leveling 
  • Print Bed temperature is lower than the mentioned range 
  • Nozzle / Hotend temperature is too low 
  • Incorrect Z-Offset Values 
  • Raft / Bring not being used 
  • Warping of the print bed 
  • Jam / Clog in the Nozzle 
  • The uncleaned print bed surface 
  • Bed Adhesives are not used 
  • Moisture Filament 
  • Fast Cooling / High Fan speed 
  • Build plate has less adhesive properties 
  • Low flow rate for initial layers 

How to Make PLA Stick To Print Bed?

In the paragraph above, we have discussed various reasons for PLA not sticking to bed. There is a solution for every problem above and you just need to identify which of those problems your printer is going through. Once you identify it, the fix is simple and easy. Below are some of the ways to solve the problem of PLA not sticking to bed. 

  • Level the print bed properly 
  • Set the right print bed temperature 
  • Set the Nozzle temperature to the recommended range. 
  • Set the right Z-Offset value
  • Use Raft or Brim 
  • Ensure the print bed is not warped 
  • Clean / Change the Nozzle 
  • Keep the print bed clean 
  • Use some bed adhesives 
  • Try changing your print bed 
  • Use dried filament 
  • Reduce the cooling fan speed 
  • Print the first layer at slower speeds 
  • Boost up the flow rate for initial layers

1. Level the Print Bed Properly

The first step to solve the problem of PLA not sticking to glass bed is to level your print bed. 3D printing works by nozzle extruding and exerting some pressure on the molten filament against the print bed for better adhesion. 

So it needs to have an equal gap between the nozzle and print bed which is usually 0.1mm. When the bed is uneven, this gap varies at different points on the print bed. This causes the extruded filament to stick to the bed at some places and not at some points.

There are 2 ways of leveling the print bed as below:

Manual Way of Leveling print bed: 

  • There are 4 knobs placed right below the print bed and these can be used to raise it up or down
  • Start the process from the default point where the nozzle positions itself. 
  • Ensure that the nozzle is nearer to the print bed by adjusting the Z-endstop. 
  • Heat the print bed temperature to around 50 DegC.
  • Start from the bottom-left corner spot. Adjust the print bed knobs until the nozzle gets closer. 
  • Now take a piece of paper and place it below the nozzle. Wiggle the paper and adjust the knobs until you see some friction in the paper. 
  • Once you experience the friction, move to the next corner and configure the distance in the same procedure. 
  • Once you see the same distance on all 4 corners and in the middle, you can do a test print to see if PLA is sticking to the bed or not.

Automatic bed leveling: 

  • Auto bed leveling uses a bed leveling sensor which has its predefined way of leveling the print bed
  • To enable the auto bed leveling, get into the printer’s menu and select the Auto bed leveling option. 
  • Once the option is enabled, the printer will do the bed leveling automatically and sets equal distances in all 4 corners and the middle.

If you are looking for an automatic bed leveling sensor then ANTCLABS BLTouch Auto Bed Leveling Sensor from Amazon works great. It is compatible with all kinds of beds and works with a precision of 0.005mm. 

To check if automatic bed leveling is working fine, you can apply skirts around the model on Cura and start printing. While the printer is printing the skirts you can easily judge if the print bed is properly leveled or not.

2. Boost up the Print Bed Temperature 

When printing the PLA filament heat up the print bed between 40-60Degc, this can work in conjunction with nozzle temperature and enable better adhesion. 

When the bed is heated, it makes the melted filament stick better. Once you do this, do a test printing and check for adhesion. 

One user got better PLA sticking at 50 DegC while the other at 60DegC. It varies between different PLA filament brands and 3D printers. 

3. Set the Nozzle / Printing Temperature to the Correct range

Setting up the right Printing/Nozzle temperature is vital because when it is increased the filament will melt and becomes softer. This softened filament sticks well to the print bed. While if the filament is not soft enough, then it can’t stick to the print bed. 

Set the Nozzle temperature for PLA as mentioned on the spool by the manufacturer and increase to 5 to 10 Deg C until you overcome the PLA sticking problem.

4. Set the right Z-Offset value

Z-Offset value is the nozzle height adjustments from the print bed that the 3D printer makes while printing. Z-Offset configuration is usually not needed if you level your print bed, because the nozzle will already be at the correct height. It is an extra setting that can be done for more accurate nozzle leveling. 

If your nozzle is too far from the print bed, then put a Z-offset value in the slicer / 3D printer. Positive Z-Offset value rises the Nozzle while negative value lowers the nozzle/

5. Use a Brim or Raft

A Brim or Raft is the best way of boosting the adhesion of PLA 3D prints. They are particularly useful when printing larger 3D objects as they ensure that 3D prints stick well throughout the printing process. 

Raft / Brim is an extra print that is added at the base of the print to offer a wider adhesion area and a strong foundation. A raft extends to a far distance in all directions while Brim is thinner print nearer to the model. 

6. Ensure the print bed is not warped 

The pint beds usually need to have flat surfaces both when heated and in a cool state. But some 3d printer beds get bent when heated up. 

One user tried every solution on earth and nothing worked to fix PLA sticking problem, At last, when he checked the print bed using a ruler, he found that the bed is warped. 

Once you notice that your bed is warping, then you cant make PLA stick to the bed properly. The only solution is to replace the build plate. 

The build surfaces such as tempered glass or borosilicate have the flattest surfaces. Some users have had great success with spring steel or PEI sheets. 

7. Clean / Change the Nozzle 

When the nozzle is clogged or damaged, it won’t extrude the filament smoothly and uniformly. This affects the PLA prints adhesion with the bed. Clean the nozzle using the Cold pull method or use cleaning filament to clean the nozzle.

If it doesn’t fix the nozzle, then change it to the new one of the same diameter. 

8. Keep the print bed clean 

When the print bed is unclean with the presence of dirt, it reduces the adhesion of PLA 3D parts. It may also get oily if someone touches their hands. 

Many people noticed the poor bed adhesion if the bed is touched many times and was unable to make PLA stick to the bed. But after cleaning the print bed and avoiding hand touches, the adhesion got significantly improved.

Apart from these, residues from the previous prints can also affect the adhesion. Ensure to clean it too. 

So cleaning the print is highly essential to solve the problem of PLA not sticking to heated bed. Below is the SOP for cleaning the print bed:

  • Take a clean cotton cloth or paper towel that can absorb well and add 70% isopropyl alcohol or acetone to it. 
  • Start wiping the print bed gently
  • Once all the dirt and residues come out, allow it for evaporation and you should have a clean bed. 
  • You can also do this by heating the bed up to 40 DegC

9. Use some Bed Adhesives

Bed adhesives can be of great help to solve the PLA sticking problems. Some of the bed adhesives like Glue Sticks, Hairspray, or tapes like Kaptopn Tape or Painter’s Tape can be utilized to enhance the PLA adhesion with the bed. 

For better results, use the adhesives on a glass print bed. Adhesives will increase the life of a print bed. Ensure that the first layer sticks to the Adhesive and rest assured you will get a successful print. 

Below are some of the best adhesives you can go with. 

10. Change Your Print Bed

If you have tried all the above methods and haven’t got the solution yet, then changing the print bed plate is the way. You can upgrade to a plate which is adhesive-friendly. Most 3D users say that the PC spring steel sheet offers good adhesion. 

One of the advantages of this print plate is the object detaches itself once the print bed cools down. You don’t need spatula or flex to remove the object. 

Opt for PEI bed / Magnetic Bed / Spring steel sheet for the best sticking results. 

The HICTOP Flexible Steel Platform with PEI Surface & Magnetic Bottom Sheet could be the right choice to tackle the PLA ticking problem. It comes in a wide range of sizes and even the double-sided surface that has textured and smooth sides.

11. Use Dried Filament

As we all know, 3D filaments are hygroscopic in nature and they absorb moisture when they are exposed to the free air. Similarly, when PLA has the moisture it affects the extrusion and adhesion. 

Apart from reducing the adhesion with the print bed, it also produces Blobd and zits on the print surfaces. So it’s very vital to fix this problem.

An easy way of fixing this problem is to remove the filament moisture using a filament dryer such as SUNLU filament dryer. Put the filament spool inside the dryer and set the drying time to dry the filament. 

12. Reduce the cooling fan speed

For better layer adhesion, you need to turn off or reduce the colling fan speed while printing the initial few layers.  You may restore the fan speed to 100% after printing the initial layers. 

If you are printing with Raft, the fan speed will not matter much as it offers a wide surface area for good adhesion. 

13. Print the First Layer at Slower Speeds 

Print the initial layer at a very low speed, because this acts as a foundation and can stick to the bed well. Set the initial layer printing speed to 20mm/s on your Cura software for better results. 

Keep it as low as possible to stick well to the print bed. 

You may vary the print speed for subsequent layers, but ensure that the initial layers’ print speed is kept low. Many 3D users have experienced great relief from sticking problems after adopting it. 

14. Boost up the flow rate for initial layers

This is the trick of increasing the filament flow rate during the initial layer printing. On Cura software, it is known as “Initial Layer Flow”. It can be set in % and higher the value, the harder the PLA is pushed during the first layer to enhance the bed adhesion.

Follow the above picture to set it.

This setting is mainly useful when your bed is not leveled properly. When is the bed is closer, the flow rate is reduced and increased when the bed is far from the Nozzle. In the case of a properly leveled bed, you may not use this feature.

Ender 3 PLA Not Sticking to Print Bed? What To Do?

If your PLA is not sticking to glass bed / magnetic bed on your Ender 3, Ender 3 pro then perform the below troubleshooting steps:

  1. Ensure that Ender 3 Glass Bed is Even and properly leveled.
  2. Check the Alignment of your Ender 3 bed and ensure the uniform distance between the nozzle and print bed at all points.
  3. Clean your Ender 3 glass bed from any dirt or previous filament residues
  4. Slow printing speed for initial layers: Print the initial layers on your Ender 3 at a slow speed and switch off the cooling fan. This enables filament to stick well to the bed
  5. Use Brim and Raft: Make use of rafts and brims to provide a wider sticking surface on your Ender 3

Fix PLA Not Sticking to Bed on Glass, PEI & Magnetic Surfaces

We have laid down some of the tips to solve PLA not sticking to bed when using different bed surfaces such as PEI, Glass & Magnetic surfaces

  • Clean the print bed surface often with 99% or 70% IPA solution.
  • Usage of PEI sheets has shown excellent results for many 3D users. One user said the PEI sheet can adhere to the object well in spite of any imbalances in the print bed.
  • A few users suggest making the glass bed surface slightly rough using sandpaper, although it gives a rough finish to the bottom layers.
  • Many users have seen success with normal picture frame glass while printing PLA

One 3D user said that he used salt water to clean the print bed and allowed it for drying. After water evaporated, the salt residues on the glass surface offered a great adhesion. This has worked for him every time. 

Another user did a similar experiment with sugar water and achieved good adhesion with sugar residues on the glass print bed as these are crystalline substances. 

Ganesh Divte

I am Ganesh Divte. I work as a Quality Assurance Engineer at Dhruvtara WireTech PVT LTD. I have experience in SLS, DMSL, FDM, and SLA additive manufacturing processes. I am very enthusiastic about additive manufacturing and its potential to change the way we manufacture products. I believe that Additive Manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing industry and make it more efficient and sustainable.

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