Adhesion is a key part of 3D Printing, whether it be first layer adhesion, adhesion between layers, or even adhesion when gluing parts together. In this post, we will be looking at adhesion aids that will help you get that perfect first layer and adhesion aids that provide the best bond when attaching 3D Printed parts.
Using the correct product for bed adhesion can mean the difference between a successful print and a messy failure. With 3D Printing constantly growing and evolving the options for bed adhesion aids are increasing.
In the early days of 3D Printing the build surface was often limited to aluminium or glass with some glue or hairspray added on to get the print to stick. Nowadays there are a plethora of build surfaces to choose from, each providing its own benefits and drawbacks. While many may still prefer the traditional methods the increase in options has helped make 3D Printing more accessible for new Makers. Companies are constantly trying to come up with better adhesion aids for 3D Printing. While not all of them have been successful we have achieved amazing results with the following adhesion aids.
BuildTak is one of the most well-known products to aid in bed adhesion. It often comes in adhesive sheets of various sizes or as magnetic flexplate sets. BuildTak is a textured specialised plastic that is designed to help you get that perfect first layer. It is also incredibly durable and removes the need for glues and sprays before every print. The magnetic version allows you to remove and flex the top sheet to easily remove the print, this reduces the need for scrapers and other print removal tools.
Wham Bam has shaken up the 3D Printing industry with its impressive range of flexible build systems. They offer a variety of materials such as PEX, PEI, and PC. Each material offers different benefits. The flexible build systems come in a variety of sizes and are designed to be more durable than other magnetic build surfaces. Wham Bam is growing in popularity due to its success with more challenging filaments such as Polycarbonate, Nylon, or Polypropylene.
As the saying goes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. These are the more tried and tested adhesion aids for 3D Printing and the reason they haven’t changed is that they still work. When 3D Printing first started gaining popularity there were few choices for bed adhesion. Using adhesion aids such as tape, glue, hairspray, or ABS slurry allows you to get great bed adhesion even with more challenging filaments. To this day many Makers still prefer using these methods over a sheet of BuildTak or Wham Bam.
There are a variety of tapes that can be used for 3D Printing. The most common is Kapton tape and blue painter’s tape. The tape is applied over the build surface, usually glass, to provide a surface for the filament to adhere to. Kapton tape is very useful when printing ABS as the filament sticks well to the tape.
Your traditional glue stick is not only for gluing paper together it seems. Applying a layer of glue to the bed before printing provides a sticky surface for the filament to adhere to.
Applying hairspray to the bed before printing provides a sticky surface for the filament to adhere to. It is recommended to use a plastic-based hairspray (co-polymer) for the best results.
This is aid can be a bit messier than the others in this post. ABS slurry is made by dissolving ABS filament in Acetone. It is applied with a brush or cloth onto the build surface, and is made almost exclusively for printing with ABS. Remember that acetone is a rather volatile solvent so take precautions. A well-ventilated room is a must for preparing ABS slurry.
So you have finished printing the parts you need for your model or project and now you need to securely adhere them together. There are a variety of suggested adhesive aids to use when gluing your 3D Prints. We also want to take this opportunity to remind you that some of the adhesion aids on this list can be harmful so make sure you handle, store, and use them correctly.
Super glue, a cyanoacrylate adhesive, is a well-known and powerful glue. It is designed to dry rapidly and form a very strong bond. When applied correctly it can result in an almost invisible seam which is ideal for gluing 3D Printed parts. As it dries rapidly it is recommended to check the parts fit before applying super glue. Due to the nature of super glue, it is not recommended for flexible filaments.
Epoxy is great for gluing plastic together. It works well with most filaments and can also be used as a filler for voids in your prints. It requires a bit of work as you have to correctly match the mix ratio depending on the epoxy you are using. Some epoxies come in syringes with a joined plunger that dispenses the correct ratio. Different epoxies have different curing times and stages, so make sure to check the instructions on how long to let the parts sit.
A common tool for many makers, the glue gun is a good option for gluing prints together. While it dries rapidly as it cools it does need to be applied in rather thick layers and will be visible when dry. Remember that a glue gun has to heat up to melt the glue stick and therefore is a burn risk. Keep the glue gun secure while in use.
Acetone is a great adhesive to bond filaments such as ABS and HIPS. It requires only a thin layer of acetone on both surfaces, this provides a strong bond and invisible seam. Make sure not to use too much acetone as it may damage the printed part. Depending on the amount of acetone used and the size of the bond area the drying time can vary. An alternative to acetone is plumbers cement however, it will leave a visible seam as plumbers cement is coloured.
3D printing relies on getting good adhesion, from the first layer to attaching printed parts together. Without proper adhesion, you will likely end up with a messy failure. We hope you have found the information in this post useful and are now ready to get the best adhesion possible. If you have an adhesion aid not mentioned on this list we would love to hear about it in the comments below.
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I have a passion for design and a love of art. I am always eager to learn new things, be it 3D modeling/3D printing, copywriting or even cooking. Pretty chill guy who is always down for a braai with family and friends.