Getting a good foundation or platform stick is probably the most important aspect of getting a good print. Without a good stick, the print will likely not be completed or in the least will be unusable when completed. Hence four of the five tips below, are about getting the extruded plastic to adhere to the build platform.
- Mouse Ears
One way to get a good platform stick is to use mouse ears. These are small circular pads placed at strategic places around a design. In most cases, the mouse ears will help to prevent the model from curling at the selected areas. Sharp corners tend to curl, more so with ABS, however, if a PLA print takes a long time, PLA, too, will tend to roll up the sharp corners.
One technique I use and have added to, is extending the mouse ears around the complete model as well as rounding the corners as seen in the picture below , making sure to round the platform corners. This helps to hold down the entire model when printing as well as the corners.
I have extended this technique even further by adding a slightly thicker layer on the outside of the inner thin layer, see below. I typically use an inner platform thickness of .3mm to .4mm and an outer thickness of .75. Additionally, I use a width of at least 5mm for each section.
As most people, including myself, download models from Thingiverse. It is possible to add mouse ears to these downloads. However, most software at the hobbyist level cannot easily manipulate .stl or .thing files, although, Tinkercad can. Additionally, it does it quite easily and is free for use.
- Getting a Good Stick With PLA and TPU
One of the best platform coverings I have found useful is 3M 2093 Edge lock. EL 2093 is a brand of blue painter’s tape and can be purchased via Amazon or most likely at your nearest Lowes or Home Depot. Also, this tape works well when working with TPU, and to some extent TPE.
With PLA I typically run the recommended extruder temperatures and a 60C-70C platform temperature.
- Getting a Good Stick With ABS
ABS is one of the more difficult filaments with which to get a great print, though very doable. ABS does not work well with long flat prints because of its tendency to curl along the edges. The longer the first layer remains in contact with the platform, the more likely the edges will curl. Hence, the longer the print time, the more likely the edges will curl.
Also, the best technique I have found effective for getting a good ABS stick is to use Duck Masking Tape. I have linked to Amazon for simplicity sake, though I buy my Duck Tape at Wal-mart. Finally, I always use a full mouse ear platform with an inner and outer layer when printing with ABS. Another technique, which I have NOT tried, is ABS Slurry. It’s a mixture of ABS plastic and Acetone that is spread on the build plate. However, I don’t wish to deal with the Acetone fumes or flammability, which is why I chose not to try it.
- Slowing Down Print Speed
For PLA and ABS, I slow down my print speeds to 50mm/sec – 65mm/sec. If using Makerbot Desktop these adjustments can be made in the settings as seen below. This works well for ABS and can produce very nice results.
- Level the Build Plate
Though this may seem obvious, a level build plate is imperative to get ANY filament to stick. When I have a problem getting a good stick, this is always the first thing I do when trouble shooting, I level the build plate. Thingiverse has many platform leveling models which can be downloaded and used for helping to level your build plate. Run the model and make adjustments as the model is printed.
I hope this helps, happy printing.