Homebrew 3D Printer Goop Promises Better Bed Adhesion

Back when 3D printers were pretty new, most of us had glass beds with or without painter’s tape. To make plastic stick, you’d either use a glue stick or hair spray. Many people have moved on to various other build surfaces that don’t require help, but some people still use something to make the bed sticky and there are quite a few products on the market that claim to be better than normal glue or hairspray. [Jonas] wanted to try it, but instead of buying a commercial product, he found a recipe online for “3D printer goop” and made it himself.

You need four ingredients: distilled water and isopropyl alcohol are easy to find. The other two chemicals: PVP and PVA powder, are not too hard to source and aren’t terribly dangerous to handle. The recipe was actually from [MakerBogans] who documents this recipe as “Super Goop” and has another formula for “Normal Goop.” You’ll probably have to buy the chemicals in huge quantities compared to the tiny amounts you really need.

We assume the shots of the 3D printer printing its first layer is showing how effective the glue is. This looks like a very simple thing to mix up and keep in a sprayer. If you have some friends,  you could probably do a group buy of the chemicals and it would cost nearly nothing for the small amounts of chemicals you need.

If you don’t want to order exotic chemicals, you might not need them. We used to make “goop” by dissolving ABS in acetone, but hairspray usually did the trick.

37 thoughts on “Homebrew 3D Printer Goop Promises Better Bed Adhesion

    1. Also known as PVP. If you want the easiest and best bang for buck adhesive, you want PVP-VA co-polymer. This is easily available in small quantities because there’s a market in home-made cosmetics. It’s the active ingredient in hair spray. This is about 90% as good as the ‘complex’ recipe.

      I’m surprised at complaints about the necessity or complexity here. It is complex, rest assured a _lot_ of enthusiast 3d printing people have found this very useful. The recipe is posted for interest, we’ve found it useful that one community member makes it and sells it at a nominal fee to the local maker community. I’ve made something like 60L of this, selling it with bulk bought acrylic paint pens. Saving our local community buying expensive bottles of commercial adhesive which are no better. No, it’s probably not worth doing by yourself for your glass bed ender.

  1. Wow, didn’t see our little goop experiments appear on Hackaday. I guess I’m largely the guy behind this so I can elaborate a little. Hairspray is almost always PVP-VA. It works very well, but it also sticks a little too well on certain surfaces, particularly pei. Supergoop is the gucci recipe. This is the last word adhesive for everything bar nylon. We mostly print abs and asa, and adhesive often saves your bacon. Supergoop has the advantage that it releases much more easily when it cools, and it leaves most of the adhesive on the bed. So one only has to apply ever half dozen prints or so. Another tip: we found both goop variants work wonderfully in refillable acrylic paint pens, the sort with the wide and hard sponges. The combination is cheap and frankly a hundred times better than all those commercial adhesives with the cheap ‘dabber’ style bottles which get torn up easily.
    Also, I’ll give you a battle tested recipe specifically developed to work well with those pens: 7% adhesive concentration by weight, split 75% pvp to 25% pvoh. Dissolved into 60/40 ethanol/water solvent mixture. You’re going to find dissolving polyvinyl alcohol is the hard bit. You work with this and the water component first. Sprinkle pvoh onto the water, gently heat while stirring. When it’s dissolved you can just mix the rest. PVP will dissolve all by itself. It’s best to do the mix up with some sort of stir plate. When the ingredients are combined, dissolved gasses will come out of solution. When there’s no more bubbles, it’s done. Hope that helps.

    1. I’m trying to work out the recipe you are giving me. Is this correct?
      7% adhesive means 93% ethanol/water mix
      For 100gr:
      1.75gr pvoh
      5.25gr pvp
      55.8gr ethanol
      37.2gr distilled water

  2. Hi DrGhetto,

    I read the recipe/watched the video really late last night. Seems pretty good.

    One thing I couldn’t determine at the time was, when you say “isopropanol”, what percentage isopropanol (as in, what % was the isopropanol to water mix in the unopened isopropanol container itself) were you using?

    In the US, they seem to mostly sell 70% and 90% ‘Isopropyl alcohol’ readily in grocery stores, and I’ve gotten 99% a few times, but that has been seemingly more scarce lately.

    Thanks for sharing your exciting formulae!

    1. The video isn’t mine, but rather the market was having it on our git wiki. I prefer ethanol but IPA works. My understanding of the lower purity IPA is that the rest is water. So you could simply adjust.

  3. Any reason PVA glue+Glue Stick+Water+IPA+ (maybe +lye to break the pva glue to pva alcohol) wouldn’t work as an alternative to those very hard to source pure chems? (clearly science isn’t my strong suit, so don’t be too brutal plz xD)

    1. I’m a chemist…and I was thinking in the same direction… except for the lye ..I’m afraid this is a little to harsh for the aluminium and metal on 3D printers. Time to do some experiments

      1. The original VM nano has been working for pretty much any plastic I’ve tried except acetal. I bought a couple bottles when they ran a two for one special and barely used any of it yet. For some plastics an application works for hundreds of prints. For nylon, I have to reapply every print.

        For ABS and ASA it helps to also have a heated enclosure and not print it on sliding bed printer.

    1. I really don’t get these “I don’t have this problem, ergo this problem doesn’t exist” type comments. It’s not incredibly difficult to entertain for a second the thought that you haven’t tried every setup and/or every material and thus you may have just never happened to run into the problem. Much more reasonable of an assumption than everyone who has had the “problem” somehow is either lying, being stupid, or some combination of the two.

  4. Why do you need these miracle concoctions at all? Use a glass bed and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth and a spray of IPA. These are all just cover ups for the fact that your bed level is off or that you don’t know what you are doing.

    1. I’ve been printing for years. Even for perfectly (always mechanically level, it’s only recently I’ve augmented this with touch sensors) flat bed, as other posters have mentioned, corner lifting is always an issue without some kind of adhesive. Even your special carborundum glass or PEI etc has an adhesive surface which will eventually wear off.

      1. Lol, PEI does not have a adhesive surface. The plastic itself is the only thing that adheres the print to the bed. In fact, I take a scotch brite pad to mine regularly, just to get off the residue from PETg and to smooth out some scratches from time to time. I been using my current sheet of PEI for over 4 months of continuous printing for a work project im doing. My last peice lasted for years until I swapped out my .250 aluminum tooling plate.

        PEI works perfect everytime.

    2. Glass, heh. I think we’re really talking about different kinds of printing. We’re primarily concerned with expensive polymers printed in machines with tri or quad plate or gantry levelling, and probed beds. Your ‘bed level’ stuff for bed slingers is not what we’re talking about, so you’re way off the mark. When you print large things in expensive warp-prone high performance plastics, the trivial effort of applying adhesive is an insurance policy with negligible cost and high QoL. It’s useful even as a release agent for super sticky polymers. For your ender with pla, sure, rock on since you ‘know what you’re doing’.

    3. > you don’t know what you are doing

      Have you ever printed in exotics that cost $100-600 USD per kg? Not everyone prints in PLA. Some of us have properly leveled/trammed surface-milled build plates topped with foil-shimmed garolite. I still use a BLTouch (9×9, 3 probes per point). Some of us spend more on a roll of filament than you did on your printer. Whether you spend $100 on a roll of Nylon copolymer, $200 on 1kg of ULTEM, or $600 on 1kg of PEEK… any waste is a budget killer. Printing in exotics is an entirely different animal, and any insurance against failures is a godsend. I’d rather spend 30 seconds wiping on a little PVA than wasting 20 minutes on the probe then however long on the print, not to mention chucking expensive failures in the trash.

      In earnest, have you ever done any contract printing or small production runs for industrial applications?

    1. Agreed. Using g10 (aka garolitr aka fr4) for pla, petg, asa, hips, abs, nylon, tpu, PC/petg without issue. Sticks well when the bed is hot. Falls off when cool. Trying first spool of PC now and so far so good!

      1. I use Garolite G10 after seeing it on Maker’s Muse. It works very well, but it scratches easily.
        I used to use a glass plate (cut from a cheap small picture frame) with a light coat of craft Quilt Basting spray and that worked quite well also but the fibreglass is much lighter and thinner.

  5. I only have an Ender 3 with Creality’s glass bed and print exclusively PLA. Now, I know I haven’t been doing this as long as most (all) of you, but, the only bed adhesion problems I have get solved by cleaning the glass with dish soap and hot water. In rare cases I’ve had to resort to a spritz of isopropyl alcohol before the “bath”. I assume this is something I might run into when I build my next printer (for ABS and above)…

  6. I used to use a 90/10 mix out of water(90) and regular woodglue(10), woodglue is pva based and it worked really good, but with PEI spring steel beds cheap and readily available, i’m absolutely not looking back to those times.

  7. I find that gluestick dissolved in water to a pourable consistency works great. Just wipe it on, and it makes the build plate slightly tacky without making any mess, or leaving a noticeable residue on the part. I print PLA, PETG, and TPU. The interesting thing about it is that it can be used to increase, or REDUCE bed adhesion. So with prusament PLA, I don’t need anything, but I’ve found some chinese pla sticks better with the fluid. Conversely I find the prusa petg sticks excessively, and a light coating of gluestick reduces the adhesion to a good level. The chinese PETG adheres the perfect amount with no fluid, and won’t stick with the fluid. I do use regular, messy gluestick when printing TPU, because its bed adhesion is greatly excessive, to a point that I’m sure it would quickly damage the bed if printed on it directly.

  8. I’ve been using a glue stick for years on a glass bed. I initially had adhesion problems, but as the coating has aged, it has improved, until now I almost never have any adhesion problems. It’s been years since I’ve washed the glass. I brush off any obvious debris, and when I see a bare patch of glass, I put glue stick down again. But I don’t have to do it often. I print both PLA and ABS.

  9. Printing PETG direct to glass etc will most times either cause glass breakage or lift pieces of it with the print. Anything from hairspray to glue stick helps. ABS I have always found slurry mix to work the best and use the same spool to make the slurry so the color etc match.

  10. The best is PEI, no glue,no nothing. I print PETg almost nonstop for months now, and the only thing I do is heat up and print.

    Someone said PEI would also give out over time, thats horse s##t. I have not used anything except PEI in 7 years with all types of plastics

  11. Technically speaking, PVOH and PVP come in multiple molecular weights, depending on “how poly” they are, and it would be nice to know which version the people having success with this were using.. As if you had a choice when you go looking :-(

    PVOH is widely sold as a component for “slime”, and is also used as a mold release in plastic casting (epoxy, fiberglass, etc) (I don’t know whether it’s the same type. Sigh.)

  12. I dont doubt this adhesive is good. But doing the comparison against nanopolimer is wrong because you are only thinking about orinting pka, nylon, abs… Things you can print t low temperatures like 80 / 100 degrees celcius on your bed. May be 120? Nanoplimer isused for hight tek polimers, oeek for example, where your bed is at 150 upto 200 degrees C. Your adhesive is going to burn at those temps?

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