Today, I want to discuss some ways in which you can improve your chances of getting your prints to stick to the building platform. I use several different techniques and rarely have I encountered a PLA or ABS design that I cannot get to stick. You can also find a related video on YouTube in which I discuss and demonstrate some of these techniques as well as a few additional tips.
Although Kapton tape is supposed to be the premier tape for platform coverage, I have found that blue painter’s tape has worked better for me. Blue painter’s tape is much less expensive and easier to apply. You can use either the inexpensive tape that you can pick up at your local hardware store or Wal-mart or you might want to try a more effective tape from 3M which is 2080EL (Edgelock). 2080EL works very well when trying to stick a difficult print, though it is slightly more expensive that regular blue painter’s tape. However, both types of blue painter’s tape are much much less expensive than Kapton tape.
One additional option, and I use this on all of my prints, now…is to use the inexpensive blue painter’s tape and cover it in a thin layer of PVA glue. I learned of this technique on the internet when I was experimenting with nylon filament and it worked rather well with it. However, I started using it on all of the different types of filament and it works extremely well with PLA and ABS printing. You should use regular extruder temperatures for PLA and ABS. However, the best platform temperatures I have found are between 70C-80C. What I have encountered is above 80C the glue on the back of the painter’s tape will soften and when the print curls, it pulls up the tape. One drawback to using this technique is that you will likely have to cover your build plate after each print unless you are printing small pieces that you can move around the build plate, using a fresh area after each build. I have on occasion been able to successfully remove a print without tearing up the blue tape and lay down a second coat of the PVA glue. However, more likely than not, you will have to recover the build plate.
If you are having a particular print that just will not stick, you might try moving it to a different position on the build plate or rotating the design by 45 degrees.
Some people have had relatively good success printing PLA without using any plate heat and some even claim that build plate heat adversely affects PLA’s ability to stick to the build plate. I on the other hand have had relatively limited success with PLA sticks when the build plate temperature is below 60C.
Now, with all of that said, I must end by saying that all filament is not created equal. Filament formulas vary from one company to the next and therefore each may have different ingredients that can affect your chances of a good stick. I have even experienced different characteristics with the same filament type, but in different colors. Additionally, all atmospheric conditions are not the same in every building. Temperatures and techniques that work here in Florida (at sea level and high humidity) may not work in Denver (lower pressure and dry air). When you encounter information such as that provided above (temperatures and techniques), they may work for you right out of the box. However, if they don’t work…use them as a starting point. Experiment with different settings and develop techniques that work for you! 3D printing is as much of an art form as it is a technology…be creative!