Bed Adhesion: The Ultimate Guide

One of the first issues you’ll encounter in 3D printing is your print detaching from the bed. This is one of the most irritating issues that your printer can have, as your entire print relies on the fact that it stays in place.

Even though it’s one of the most annoying problems that can happen, it’s one of the most easily treatable. Here is the ultimate list of solutions for all your bed adhesion problems.

Bed Level

The leveling of your print surface will determine if your print will turn out amazing, or if it will be an utter failure. It is extremely important that you learn to correctly level it before you print anything.

Leveling isn’t a set it and forget it kind of deal. It will always be a constant procedure if you want to have successful prints. If you want to know how often you should level a bed, I wrote about that in this post.

There can be two different things that could be happening with your bed level. The first is that the nozzle is too close to the bed, and the other is that it is too far away.

Nozzle too close

The nozzle being too close is the worse of the two, as it can damage both your bed and your nozzle. It can be easily remedied by lowering the bed a small amount.

If the nozzle isn’t scraping the bed, it may scrape the print. This can allow the printer to rip the whole print right off the bed. It also may cause the filament to be too squished to form good layers.

Nozzle too far

If your first layers have gaps in them, or if the first layer is too thin, the nozzle is probably too far away. It’s extremely important that these first layers are laid down correctly, as they are the foundation for your entire print.

The fix is simple: raise your bed to be closer to the nozzle. The first layer should be nice and flat with no gaps in it at all.

Sometimes just fixing your bed level will allow you to print perfectly without the print falling off. If it doesn’t, then take a look at these other solutions.

Bed Temperature

Depending on your filament material, your build plate temperature will make a huge difference in the adhesion. With a filament like ABS, heating the print surface is absolutely necessary.

Without a heated bed, certain filaments will warp due to the heat of the hot end. This will cause the edges to curl and the print to detach from the bed.

Anytime you find your 3D print lifting at its corners, you might need to make your bed temperature hotter and your extruder temperature lower.

For PLA, you don’t even have to use a heated bed, depending on the temperature of the room you’re printing in.

The heat will also keep your filament from contracting as easily. Without the heat from the bed, the filament will contract as soon as it starts to cool down.

This contraction can cause the print to pop off without much effort. By having a bed heated to a certain degree, it will lessen how much the material contracts.

Even though PLA doesn’t warp as much as other filaments, it could still benefit from the heated bed to prevent contracting. Personally, I opt to heat it no matter what filament I’m printing with.


If you live in an area with cold winters, then you may be having issues due to your environment. My print space is in the garage, which proves to be very difficult during the winter.

For starters, sometimes the printer is too cold to be heated. When I turn the machine on, it gives me a temperature too low warning. The only way to fix this is to heat the bed with a heat gun.

Once I get the print started, turning the bed temperature up is an absolute necessity. The cold air immediately cools and contracts the filament, causing the first layers to fall off.

Sometimes I even found that the bed temperature wasn’t enough to stop the warping. The only thing that finally fixed this was building an insulated enclosure.

If you are printing with ABS, you already need an air-filtered enclosure. For PLA, you can build a cheap enclosure using materials from a local hardware store, or even just out of cardboard. Just make sure you use some sort of insulated material to hold in the temperature.

Clean Surface

The surface you’re printing on should be clean and free from scratches. The scratches are hard to remedy, but the bed can be cleaned very easily.

If you have some extra time, remove the bed, pour rubbing alcohol on it, and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, use a paper towel and wipe the bed down.

The alcohol helps to break up any adhesives or grime on the bed. A clean surface will go a long way in helping your print stay adhered to the bed.

Personally, I use hot water to clean the print surface off. For me, this even removes the glue stuck from glue sticks.

I have heard that some people have difficulty getting their prints to stick to a glass bed after using glue sticks. This is probably because certain glue sticks leave a residue that the alcohol can’t break down.

One solution I read for this is to clean the bed with brake cleaner, and then clean it with acetone. This should make any residual be completely removed.

If you use glue sticks, make sure you clean it off every couple prints. If you don’t, the buildup of glue can eventually cause the print either to not stick, or to be so stuck you can’t get it off.

First layer

The settings of your first layer will make a world of difference in the way the rest of your print turns out. A weak foundation will make the entire print give way, so it’s extremely important that this layer is done right.

This is very difficult to accomplish, as you’ll need to rely on many different factors, such as your environment, to prevent warping.

I included this one right after the section on a clean surface because a clean bed is first step to a better print. If you are printing on glass, this will be less effective, but will still work for some people.

The first settings you need to get right are your temperature settings. For ABS, the heated bed is a given. The extruder temperature also needs to be low enough that it won’t warp.

The next step is to ensure that your first layer is thick enough to provide a good base. You can do this by changing your first layer width to somewhere over 120%.

The very tip of the extruder is about double the width of the hole diameter, which allows it to squish the layer to up to twice the size of your layer height.

The second step is to set your first layer speed to print slower. Thirty percent to 50% speed is a good range to use. This gives the plastic enough time to settle and grip onto the bed.

The last thing you could think about doing is turning off cooling for the first layer. The longer the filament takes to cool down, the more time it has to settle into the grooves of the bed.

It can be very beneficial to use these settings even with tape or a different bed. I just keep these settings on all the time no matter what print surface I’m using

Glue Sticks

Outside of rafts and layer settings, glue sticks are my favorite method for bed adhesion. I regularly buy packs of them to ensure that my print stays perfectly on the bed without warping.

I’ve found that the white Elmer’s glue sticks work the best, and you can buy them online or at a craft store. The only downside is that you have to keep buying them when they run out.

Glue sticks also wash off very easily. I used to remove my bed and pour rubbing alcohol on it to let it dissolve, but that got annoying to do. Now I’ve found that very hot faucet water works wonders for cleaning the glue off.

You need to clean them off about every 2 to 3 prints. The best thing to do would be to clean it after every use, but this can get tedious after a while.

When you use glue sticks, wait until the printer is just about ready to print. If you put it on too early, it’ll dry before the printer starts extruding onto it.

Once the first layer is laid down, the glue will dry and provide a very strong hold for your print. It might be difficult to remove, and if so then here are the solutions for a stuck print.

Sometimes one corner or a section of your print will warp or come off, and this is because you forgot to put glue on that area. Be sure to cover the entire area you’ll be printing on.

If you are looking for a surefire way for your print to stay very stuck, glue sticks are the way to go. The cons of using them are having to buy more and having to clean off your print bed frequently.

Removable structures

These methods are done by adding extra printable structures on the outside of your print. All the major slicers have the ability to use these settings.

While they guarantee that your print will have a good surface, they come at the price of using a small amount of extra filament.


A brim is a small, removable outline on the bottom layer of your print. This is much faster and less costly to use than a raft, as it is usually only a couple layers.

A brim is easily removable, and only takes a few minutes more to add on your print. It can also help with warping too.

There aren’t many negatives to adding a brim to your print, so give it a shot and see if it helps.


A skirt is essentially a brim that doesn’t touch the filament. The purpose of the skirt is to create an outline around the print to even out the flow of filament.

This helps to ensure that the first layer is perfectly smooth when it starts being printed. Giving the filament some extra time to even out will add strength to your print.

My preference is to always have a skirt turned on. This helps me easily see if I have any extrusion issues at the start of the print.


When I have a print that requires a lot of support material, I quite often turn to the raft as an added precaution. A raft is a structure that acts as an extremely sturdy base for your print.

If you can’t get a raft to stick, then you need to level your bed and try again. Rafts are a definite way to make sure your print stays where you want it.

After the print is finished, you can use a putty knife to scrape the raft off, or you can put the bed in the freezer and wait for it to pop off on its own. Another good thing about a raft is that if you ever needed to pry it off, you’d damage the raft and not your print.

When you print with a raft, make sure that your settings make it easy to remove from the print, or else it’ll leave the bottom of your print looking bad. It could even rip off the bottom layers, depending on your slicer settings.


As far as adhesion solutions go, this was the first thing I tried. Any sort of painters tape will suffice. This will work for you, but it’s not the best option on the list.

The reason that tape is a solution is that the tape has a rough surface, which allows the filament to grip onto as it cools.

If you opt to use tape, stretch the tape onto the entire area your print will be on. Make sure there are no wrinkles or bubbles, and also that the tape lines are evenly spaced.

You might be able to get a couple uses out of the tape, but more often than not it rips. The ripping can leave residual tape on the underside of your print. When you try to take the tape off the bed, it can get stuck and leave small pieces.

Some people swear by this method, but personally I’m not a fan. Go ahead and try it, because it will ensure that your print doesn’t budge. You can decide for yourself whether you want to continue using tape.

Hair spray

The second method I tried was hair spray, and it was kind of hit or miss. It probably depends on what type of hairspray you buy.

In my case, I used my sister’s scented hairs spray, which was probably a bad idea. When I turned the heated bed on, I started to smell the scented hairspray burning on the heated bed. The whole garage smelled like hairspray for a while after.

I do have to say, it worked pretty well. It was easier to apply than glue sticks, and made less of a mess to clean up. The only downside is that it didn’t work 100% of the time like glue sticks did.

To use hair spray, simply spray it over the build surface shortly before a print starts going. The goal is to get the print to dry on the spray, making it stick there.

You can clean this in the same ways that you clean glue off, with either rubbing alcohol or hot faucet water.


PEI (which stands for Polyetherimide) is a type of plastic that you can buy in large sheets. This works similarly to painters tape, as it has bumps and grooves for the print to grip onto.

You can order this on Amazon or Ebay for a very reasonable price. It’s a really simple way of getting your print to stick without having to wash your print bed every time.

Sometimes you can get a few uses out of one sheet, but often times parts of it can rip off with your print. This risks damaging the print since it has the potential to rip off the bottom layers.

Adhesion products

There are dozens of different products that you can buy online that promise better bed adhesion. While I’m sure these work well, you could accomplish the same thing with cheaper glue sticks.

The best solution is to set your slicer settings so that you don’t need any extra adhesives, but it wouldn’t hurt to give them a try. I can’t recommend any specific brands, as I’ve never needed to go this route before.

Some various products I’ve seen mentioned online are 3D Gloop!, Magigoo, Dustnprint, and Wolfbite. It’s up to you if you think you need to purchase extra products, but personally I think that some of the other methods would be more effective.

Weird Methods

These are some really odd methods I’ve seen online that have worked for some people. They may work for you, so give them a shot if nothing else works.

Sugar water is the first thing I’ve read about. To use this method, mix some sugar into some water and let it dissolve, then apply it to your build surface using a brush.

The water evaporates and leaves the sticky sugar behind. This is a good cheap thing to try that most people have around their house.

Jello is another one I’ve seen, which also works because of its sticky nature. If you happen to have a box of jello mix, it wouldn’t hurt to try it out.


No matter what you use, it all comes down to what works best for you. Once you find your preferred method, you’ll have no issues with keeping your prints from detaching.

Jay Simmons

Jay Simmons is the main writer for The 3D Bros. He has several years experience working with 3D printers, and is the the co-owner of Cubold Manufacturing, LLC.

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