Making PLA stick to a 3D printer build platform by using hairspray or an acetone ABS slurry

[Chris] has been having some real problems getting PLA to stick to the build platform of his Printrbot. This is of course not limited to this brand of printers, and affects all extruder-based hardware using the PLA as a source material. He came up with a couple of ways to fix the problem.

The first is something we’re quite familiar with. The image above shows [Chris] applying a thin layer of hairspray to the platform. This is a technique the we use with our own 3D printer. The sheets of paper are used as a mask to help keep the sticky stuff off of the threaded rod. For more info on the hairspray trick [Chris] recommends that you read this article.

The second technique uses a slurry made from saturating a bottle of acetone with ABS leftovers. In the clip after the break he shows off a glass jar of the solvent with scraps from past print jobs hanging out inside. After a couple of days like that it’s ready to use. He takes a paper towel, wets it with the solution, and wipes on a very small amount. He does mention that this will eventually eat through the Kapton tape so apply it rarely and sparingly.

38 thoughts on “Making PLA stick to a 3D printer build platform by using hairspray or an acetone ABS slurry

  1. Not surprising that the ABS juice didn’t work as well since PLA isn’t ABS. The ABS juice is probably taking advantage of the fresh ABS adhering to the existing film layer of ABS the left behind when the acetone evaporates.

    But it was certainly worth a shot :)

  2. Why do you have to print directly to the surface? why cant you print on another surface you simply put in place, that way you can “hairspray” small boards and have them ready.

    1. The only thing that worked on our 3D touch printers was to machine the bed fliat. They were an average of 0.6mm out of flat. We machine them flat and they work a lot better.

  3. Another trick that works well is to add a tablespoon of PVA (or similar wood glue) and a teaspoon of detergent (I like no-scent laundry detergent) to about a liter of water in a spray bottle. Just apply a spray, then wipe off of the heated bed. I have had fantastic adhesion printing PLA directly on glass or on Kapton, although it tends to tear the Kapton right off of the plate because it sticks so well.

    1. PVA glue works great on glass too, and using a spray of water to reform the surface after a print makes it easy to go a long way between reapplication.

      1. I find PVA glue on heated glass works too well. I have a horrible time prying the parts off.
        But when you normally have adhesion problems, who’s to complain.

  4. Hairspray kinda works, but it is messy. For ABS I have great results with wiping the bed with glue stick. The kind we all used in elementary school art class. And if needed with ABS juice on top of that glue layer. This creates bonds as strong that I had to break the glass to remove the part (lowering the amount of ABS in juice helped).

    The acetone he used in video is very weird, I buy regular one in hardware store and I can create ABS juice in minutes instead of days as he said.

  5. Supposedly blue painters tape works well, you have to be precise and have no creases or overlaps, and wipe it off before printing.

    1. I use Frog tape and it is amazing. I never have had a issue with PLA not sticking and it peels way easier than my glass platform. I have printed more than 20 pieces on the middle portion and have yet to have a reason to change it yet. Frog tape should be a must have for PLA

  6. go to ikea, get a soerli mirror, stick it after cleaning onto your HBP turn the heat for the HBP 10-20dec C higher than normal, print!
    you dont need anything else from now on, no hairspray, no nothing,
    works perfect for abs and pla, and after printing you can easy lift of your prints when the HBP temp goes below 50 (pla) or 90 dec C (for abs)
    have fun, dont waste canned air, kapton, acetone, hairspray, blue painters tape, pet tape, or anything else
    (and dont touch the mirror, the stuff on your fingers is bad for the adhestion between pla/abs and glass)

    1. i agree, i print with a prusa i2 on just heated glass, no products needed whatsoever.

      the only thing REALLY important for this kind of adhesion to work, is start Z height.

      for me all these ‘solutions’ to a non-existing problem are telling me people suck at calibrating their printers :)

      1. C’mon now, let’s not be arrogant. There are plenty of factors, even with precise calibration, that can affect adhesion.

  7. For PLA, printing either onto blue tape (unheated) or bare glass (heated at 70C) works really well – I use both. Wiping the surface between prints isn’t so critical, but keeping fingerprints off the surface *is* – they’re pretty much huge pools of lubricating oil as far as the hot plastic is concerned. Heated glass even has the side benefit that when the glass cools down to under 50C or so the part disengages automatically – with blue tape it takes a bit of work.

  8. The one thing I’ve learned since I started working with 3D printers a few years ago is that there is no “One True Way” to do it… RepRaps are the like Perl of hardware, in that there’s more than one way to do it, and whatever works for you is what you should do.

    I currently print with ABS, and my surface is a piece of cheap hardware store glass with Kapton tape on it. I wipe it down with finger nail polish remove before printing. I take the glass off and let it cool, and 9 time out of 10 the piece comes off easily. If not, a gentle whack with a screwdriver handles does the job. (I never have to pry the piece off.)

    YMMV, of course, and while I share what I do with others, I also let them know that trying various methods to find what works for them is a good idea.

  9. All PLA I’ve tried will stick to heated glass (PCB Heatbed) at 80C no lifting or warping. It also works if kapton tape is covering the glass.

    ABS was a difficult beast, I needed the bed around 135 for a truly good stick, but was still getting slight warping that ABS is known for. Covering the bed in kapton really helped, and it sticks very well and at 135c has no sign of warping. Only problem being the pcb heatbed takes about 25 minutes to reach that temp…

    I always wipe the bed with acetone on kitchen paper, to get all the finger oil off :)

    The key part is once the bed has cooled the parts come off very easy.

    1. Yeah, PLA sticks fine to a properly heated bed. But if the temperature is off it won’t stick at all, which is most likely the case here.

      Blue painters tape (as on an Ultimaker) will allow you to not use the heated bed at all for most prints. Saving time and energy.

  10. Lulzbot has been recommending the ABS Glue method all along. In fact they send a Naglene bottle with the printer for just such purpose. 8 pieces of 3mm abs just 8cm long is enough for 12oz of acetone. You don not want it too thick as it can make the parts almost impossible to remove from the glass.

  11. Humidity/dampness may be overlooked when it comes to direct printing on glass with PLA, and when there are no ventilation or air conditioning in the room.

    I’ve been at it for two months with the HB & glass plate now, some days it drove me insane because it just would not stick at all; other days worked flawlessly…
    Then I read on some forum someone saying that, when humidity rose past 70%, PLA wouldn’t stick to the heated glass setup; later realized that I could print only during a shinny day; so since there’s no AC and my place is not insulated well (I live near the ocean) that might be it. I need a hygrometer though.

    1. DHT22 is precise enough, and costs ~2 usd … you probably have some spare pins to interface it on your printer’s electronics

  12. The problem with sticking, in my opinion, is due to poor calibration and poor temperature control. Clean the plate with acetone and make sure that the nozzle has the right distance to the plate based on the thickness of the extrusion height.

    I have a Printrbot + equipped with a heated bed, a 6mm glass plate with kapton tape and I have absolutely no issue making the filament stick to the bed unless it’s very fine lines like entire rows of 0.2mm, 2mm spaced support material.

    I print ABS at 240C with a heated bed between 80-100C.

    Bonus info: I use an acrylic ruler and a bed temperature of 60C when I pop off prints, works well :)

    1. For the record, I’ve never had luck with acetone on glass. It seems to leave some slight petroleum based residue that does not promote sticking. Isopropyl alcohol (91%) has the same affect, yet not as dramatic. Best results on glass = Windex.

  13. I struggled a little getting a new roll of glossy black PLA to stick during printing and tried a lot of solutions. turned out the best method is to play with the bed temperature. I found that printing on clean glass at 50-60C was perfect (default PLA bed temp on my printer is 85C) it sounds counter intuitive to drop the temp to to increase stickiness on the bed, but there is a sweet spot depending on the chemistry plastic/pigment you are using, and it takes a little trial and error to crack it.

    1. I ended up coming to the same conclusion. I was struggling with warping and adhesion until I dropped my temp to 55ºC (natural PLA on glass). It has been perfect ever since. The parts are even rather well stuck after everything cools.

  14. I use a cold bed, and the ABS trick is what I do. Hairspray never did a thing for me.

    If you dissolve up the fine abs support material from prints you can have it ready in under an hour. PLA, ABS, and wood filament all stick to it fine.

    If worried about damaging your bed, or whatever expensive tape you’ve put on it, you can lay the abs slurry on ordinary masking tape. It’s cheap, easy to get, and if you buy it new and in decent quality (eg automative masking tape from a reputable store) it shouldn’t leave too much sticky glue behind when you remove it.

  15. Another technique that I use that is completely different involves dop wax. It is the same stone cutters use on cabochons. This is for PLA printing only.

    Preheat your build platform to 90-110 C. Apply a paper thin layer of the dop wax. Once you have an even coat let it sit for a few minutes to level out. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

    Print whatever you like on the cold bed. A slight buffing with hardware cloth will ensure everything goes without a hitch.

    The beautiful part is releasing the print from the bed. Simply heat the platform back up to 90-110 C and you should be able to immediately release the part.

    If problems persist or there are fragile features on your print and have a detachable bed simply stick the bed with your print on it in the freezer for a few hours. This will cause the wax and the print to separate without issue.

    A good dop wax layer is reusable for a couple months of constant printing.

  16. It’s been a while since my last comments – but I’ve been tipped to a new solution for PLA adhesion that works incredibly well. I’ve printed objects with square corners that cover nearly the entire print bed (190mm) and it works like magic. No curling or lifted edges. Compared to Kapton on “blue tape”, it is easier to apply, has a nicer finish and is infinitely less expensive.

    Solution: one (1) part white glue to ten (10) parts water. Turn up the heated bed to your PLA print temp (~60-70c). Mix the solution throughly – should look like thin milky water. Dip a folded paper towel in to get it damp, then swab the printer deck. Make sure it coats the deck evenly. Yes, it will appear streaky. Wait until the heat from the bed dries up the solution – you’ll see it go from shiny to flat/opaque.

    I usually run 10-20 prints before I feel the need to re-apply. If you go days between prints, its probably a good idea to re-apply to get the standing dust off the print surface.

    Yes, it is true that the glass-side finish of the prints is not as smooth at bare-glass prints – but you’ll notice that its nearly impossible to remove the parts from the glass until you let them (part and glass) cool to room temperature. I’ll take a 10% reduction in surface quality any day over a lifted print.

    I’m curious to see other’s results with this method.

    1. I wouldn’t know. My printer is not equipped for ABS.

      I wouldn’t hurt to try. In the case that it doesn’t work, it will easily wash off the glass.

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