Buildbed Adhesives for 3D Printers-3D Printer Glue Stick
In order to improve adhesion and prevent warping or separation during the 3D printing process, buildbed adhesives are substances or materials that are applied to the print surface (also known as the build bed or print bed). These adhesives aid in making sure that the first layer of a print adheres firmly to the bed, providing a solid base for the subsequent layers. The choice of build bed adhesive depends on the specific 3D printer, filament, and the user’s preferences. Experimentation may be necessary to determine which adhesive works best for your printing needs.
We’ll give a thorough introduction to a few popular kinds of 3D printer bed adhesives below, including tapes, glue, 3D printer glue stick and so on.
Kapton tape (Polyimide Tape) is a high-temperature-resistant, polyimide film with a silicone adhesive backing. It is commonly used in the aerospace industry and for heated print beds due to its exceptional heat resistance. It is prized for its ability to withstand high temperatures without deteriorating. When applying Kapton tape to a print bed, it’s crucial to ensure that no air bubbles are trapped underneath it, as this can compromise its adhesive properties and reduce its effectiveness. Kapton tape is also favored as a print substrate because it often resists tearing when removing 3D prints from the bed. However, it is used sparingly or less frequently than Painter’s Tape, primarily due to its significantly higher cost, which can be 5-10 times more.
Painter’s tape (or Masking Tape), sometimes referred to as “blue tape,” is a paper-based tape with a pressure-sensitive adhesive on one side, which is a popular choice as a print-bed substrate due to its affordability, effectiveness, and reliability. However, it lacks the durability of Kapton tape. After just a few prints and some scraping, painter’s tape may start to degrade on the print bed and require replacement. While primarily used for household painting projects, it is also valuable in 3D printing because it leaves no residue on the print bed, even when exposed to heat. It is particularly effective for PLA filament. It’s important to note that painter’s tape degrades more quickly under high temperatures compared to Kapton tape. Its reliability above 100°C (a common ABS printing bed temperature) can only be guaranteed on a case-by-case basis.
Various types of glue are commonly used to enhance print adhesion, and the options are too numerous to list comprehensively. Some of the most familiar choices in 3D printing include PVA glue (commonly used for bookbinding), standard white glue (such as Elmer’s glue), and glue sticks.
Bookbinding PVA glue is a desirable printing substrate due to its neutral pH and water solubility. A mixture of water and PVA glue (typically in a 1:1 or 1:2 water-to-glue ratio) can effectively improve print adhesion. These glues, including the other types, can be applied over tape if you want to keep your print bed clean.
White glue is more acidic than bookbinding glue and contains additional binders and solvents, making it stickier. Again, a diluted mixture of glue and water can prevent prints from adhering too strongly.
Glue sticks are another viable solution. While the chemical composition of glue sticks can vary, most brands should provide strong adhesion for 3D printing. However, it’s worth noting that objects printed onto glue sticks may be challenging to remove from the print bed.
PEI (Polyetherimide) Sheet
PEI sheets are made from a thermoplastic material known for its excellent adhesion properties. It comes in sheet form and can be adhered to a glass or aluminum print bed.
PEI provides strong adhesion for various filament types, including ABS and PLA. It doesn’t require frequent replacement and is resistant to high temperatures.
PEI sheets can be relatively expensive upfront. Some users may need to apply adhesives like glue sticks to promote adhesion.
3D Printer Glue Stick
3D Printer glue stick is a common, water-soluble adhesive in stick form. 3D Printer glue stick is often made from PVA (polyvinyl acetate) and are widely available.
3D Printer glue stick is easy to use, cost-effective, and offer good adhesion for PLA and other filaments. They are water-soluble, making it easy to clean the print bed.
3D Printer glue stick may require frequent reapplication, especially for large or long prints. It’s important to apply them evenly to avoid uneven adhesion.
ABS juice is a mixture of ABS filament scraps dissolved in acetone, creating a slurry that can be spread on the print bed.
ABS juice is ideal for ABS filament, as it promotes excellent adhesion and reduces warping. It’s relatively low-cost since it uses scrap material.
It should be used in a well-ventilated area due to the use of acetone. The application process can be a bit messy.
Hairspray is a common, household adhesive used as a bed adhesive for 3D printing. It is applied in aerosol form.
Hairspray is readily available and can provide strong adhesion for various filament types, including ABS and PETG.
Some hairsprays may contain other chemicals or additives that could negatively affect the print bed or the printed object. A fine mist application is important to avoid buildup.
Dealing with Problems Removing Prints
Removing prints from the print bed can be challenging when adhesives cause the printed material to adhere too strongly. In such cases, a palette knife or glass scraper can assist in loosening stuck objects. If this proves ineffective, you can remove the print bed, along with the attached object, from the printer and place it in a kitchen freezer for 15-60 minutes. This can sometimes weaken the adhesive’s grip, particularly in the case of PVA glue.
As a last resort, you can wedge a sturdy scraper or putty knife at one corner of the print or where the object is thickest and gently tap the wedge tool with a hammer or heavy object. Caution is advised, as cheap glass may shatter when subjected to concussive force, and even durable borosilicate glass can crack or chip using this method. Always wear eye protection and gloves when attempting this approach.
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