I have been playing around with the bed for a while and I still can't get the first layer to stick properly. I think I am getting the bed leveled good, I use the paper method. But yet I find myself with the filament lifting off and getting pulled away with the nozzle or some balling in rare situations.

I use masking tape, which I found for $3 at Dollar general. I heard something about shine being a factor, but why is that important? And is more expensive masking tape worth it? I don't want to buy it because I would hate for it to tear when I take off a print.

I also use some glue stick, which seems to sometimes not help, almost like it doesn't allow the filament to stick. I don't think I was adding too much, maybe I was. But is glue stick needed? Does it really make that much of a difference?

So other than that I don't know what to try. I can't get the first layer to work properly. Maybe it is my speed, what is a good speed to print at for the first layer, I am doing 60 mm/s, just like the rest of my print.

Any advice from there with first layers would be great. I am tired of wasting time and filament over failed first layers. But when I do get the first layer done, the second+ layers all work fine, no issues.

Here are the specs of my printer, that should be helpful for people:

  • Printer --> Anet A6
  • Print area --> 220 x 220 mm
  • Heated bed? --> Yes
  • Bed temp --> 50°C
  • I use masking tape on bed
  • nozzle dia. --> 0.4mm
  • Nozzle temp --> 210°C
  • Print speed --> 60 mm
  • Material of choice --> PLA
  • Fan is on after 3 layers

I think that covers everything, Let me know if I need to add anything else.

  • $\begingroup$ @Martynas I have heard of this ultrabase. But would it be compatible with the Anet A6 which has a 220mm by 220mm print surface? $\endgroup$ – Ljk2000 Jan 24 '18 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ As i know Ultrabase is 214*214, and yes why it shouldn't be compatible? Its heatplate with glass on top $\endgroup$ – Martynas Jan 24 '18 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Martynas I ask if it is "compatible" because of the screw placement. $\endgroup$ – Ljk2000 Jan 24 '18 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ Oh I don't know mate. Shouldn't be to hard to google it :) $\endgroup$ – Martynas Jan 24 '18 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Greenonline I found it did not help, but using a good glue stick did. Also I found a option in the slicer to slow the print speed on first layer, which helped. At the time I was also very new to 3d printing and never got the bed leved correctly, which I have now gotten pretty good at, with nothing more than a piece of paper. The the kicker with temp is I had it at 50*c without issues since, and now I have the bed cool down completely which when bed is leved correctly makes it super easy to take off the print. $\endgroup$ – Ljk2000 May 25 '18 at 13:27

Masking tape (and blue painter's tape) is coated with a wax-based release agent in order to prevent the tape sticking to itself on the roll. This release agent must be removed with an organic solvent in order to obtain good adhesion. Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol is good for this. Acetone will also work, but it is a much stronger solvent (which is not necessarily a good thing).

For blue painter's tape, rub freshly applied tape with solvent until the blue dye starts coming off. Then give it a quick wipe between prints to remove any fingerprints, etc.

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    $\begingroup$ I will try the isopropyl alcohol. It will be neat to see how much of a difference that will make. Thanks for that bit of information. $\endgroup$ – Ljk2000 Jan 24 '18 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ That's odd - I have never used any prep on blue tape and often find the tape is bonded more strongly to the PLA than to the bed itself! $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jan 26 '18 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft Other users have told me the same. Maybe it has something to do with using a heated bed (my printer doesn't have one). The heat from the bed may cause the release agent to be absorbed into the tape, and thus allow good adhesion. $\endgroup$ – Mick Jan 26 '18 at 16:08

Instead of masking tape, I would use BuildTac or some other similar surface. These are self-adhesive and come in various sizes. You can cut them down if they are too large for your bed.

I'm using it on my Monoprice Select Mini with a heated bed and it works fine.

I did have to experiment with the PLA I'm using in order to make sure it didn't adhere too well.

And yes, I use alcohol prep pads to clean the surface. You can get these at the first aid or diabetes section of any pharmacy.

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  • $\begingroup$ I heard buildTac is easy to tear if not careful, which is why I have not bought it. Would you back these people (on YouTube/reviewers) that it is weak, or are they just being that rough...? $\endgroup$ – Ljk2000 Jan 25 '18 at 4:25
  • $\begingroup$ I've never had BuildTac tear on me. I use these removal tools to get between the pla and the BuildTac. These are very thin and good for the task. I also had to use patience until I lowered the extruder temperature so that the pla didn't stick quite so well. $\endgroup$ – NomadMaker Jan 25 '18 at 13:04

Mick (other answerer) is spot-on with his advice on how to prep the masking tape to work well as an adhesion enhancer.

Additionally: what material is the surface of your printing bed, and is the bed heated? If it is, just know that you may want to try with both heat on and off if you are using tape (it works worse for me and at least a friend of mine with heat on, but down in the comment others report it working better...).

As for general advice on bed adhesion strategies: in case your bed is glass and heated, then the best, fastest, cleanest and cheapest method is to just print on it without anything else. The secrets to success here are:

  • A clean glass, without contamination from solvents or additives to solvents that are often used (like many types of alcohol). Use dish soap and warm water only, and be extremely careful not to touch the printing surface with your skin, as your skin contains natural oils that will make plastic not to stick to the glass.
  • A dead flat glass. This should sound obvious, but most cheap printers have glasses that are not flat enough (CR-10, I am looking at you!). The best tip here is: use mirrors. They are very cheap at home improvement stores, can be easily cut to size and - most importantly - they are normally extremely flat, as otherwise they would deform the image they reflect.
  • A perfectly levelled glass. You can achieve this with the paper method and some patient, but if you want to make your life easier, and have better first layers, do yourself a favour and buy an indicator. Thingiverse is full of user-made mounts to attach them to all sort of printers.

The last point is good advice even if your bed is not glass, although you won't benefit from it as much.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just to ask quick, does glue on masking tape make a huge difference? Also, like everybody else thank you for the advice. I will be trying what you say and what others say, find the best. Now with glass/mirrors I have 2 questions. 1) How much longer does it take to heat up and 2) What is the best way of keeping them in place (clips?)? $\endgroup$ – Ljk2000 Jan 25 '18 at 4:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Ljk2000 - 1) Glue on tape: I don't know, I never tried myself 2) temp speed: impossible to answer without knowing target temp, glass thickness, what you are comparing to, wattage of the heating element. I'd guess we are speaking of a few minutes though. 3) clips is surely the most common method, and works perfectly. $\endgroup$ – mac Jan 25 '18 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ Have to disagree: blue painter's tape is commonly used and works well with a heated bed. The warmth keeps the first layer soft and thus "flows into" the tape's rough surface for a better bond. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jan 26 '18 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft - I guess it may depend from the tape as well? I never tried the blue one. Where I live it is not commonly sold. but. But good to know is worth trying! $\endgroup$ – mac Jan 26 '18 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft - also edited the answer to account for your input $\endgroup$ – mac Jan 26 '18 at 15:35

I'll go out on a limb and suggest that, while your bed may be well-levelled, the Z-axis zero might be off. A difference of 10-20 microns can be the difference between strong adhesion to the bed/tape and having your print float away. If your first layer doesn't get "squashed flat" a bit by the nozzle, your extruder head is slightly higher than optimal.

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I'm Using Masking tape with no problems, your parameters are OK and just need to sand the surface before sending to print, use sand paper #120 or #150. The first layer height is 0.18 mm to 0.25 mm. The masking tape can be used for a lot of prints, you can change it every week to keep a good adhesion.

I found that not all brands works fine, for example TUK has a good adhesion and can be used for several prints. 3M has an stronger adhesion but is needed to sand on 100 % area and can be used only for one printing. Jevelin has a good adhesion but, if the heat bed is above 40 °C this masking tape starts to peel off. and the other ones might have the same issue near to 50 °C or more.

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