In cura one of the options under "build plate adhesion" is "skirt", which seems to simply print a loop around, but not touching, my print. How is this supposed to help my prints stick to the bed?
The skirt will only prime the nozzle, which is something really important for the first layer adhesion. Ususally the first layer has slightly more material (or a lower height) respect to the other layers, and this is done mainly to push the most material against the plate, and this will give adhesion. Without a proper priming of the nozzle this just won't happen everywhere.
From the Simplify3D guide:
Adjustments to the First Layer Height allow you to vary the amount of pressure the filament exerts against the bed. There are actually two ways to adjust the height and pressure:
Percentages under 100% will reduce the height of the layer being printed (with no change to the extrusion amount). For example, if you entered 75%, your first layer height is reduced while your extrusion remains at 100%. Another way to think of this is that 100% of your extrusion will be forced into a space that is 75% of the layer height. This reduction in height generates extra pressure and more surface area for that layer, which will help the first layer adhere to the print bed.
In other cases, using a percentage above 100% is helpful. For example, if you are printing at very fine layer heights, such as 0.05mm, a tiny variance in your bed leveling can result in poor first layer adhesion. Using a First Layer Height well above 100% can be extremely helpful in these cases. Many machines benefit from 200 or 300% for the first layer height when the layer height is 0.05 mm or 0.1 mm. The increased thickness of the first layer can help absorb small defects in the build plate and provide more surface contact area, which will result in better first layer adhesion.
Imho, the life is too short to print at 0.05mm, and my printer doesn't show bed issues, therefore i'll go with less than 100% first layer height.
I don't have the standard cura settings available, and i also think that with different 3d printers with different filaments it makes only a little sense to discuss about "cura standard settings". In any case, my very standard standard settings are: 0.2mm layer height, 0.15mm first layer height. With these settings and some hairspray on the glass i almost forgot about model pop off in midprint.
These skirts they don't contribute at all to help your product adhere better to the build plate other than priming your nozzle so that it is ready to lay down filament for your product.
A skirt does give a good indication of the adhesion prior to printing your product, if the skirt does not adhere, maybe it is a good time to stop the print and re-slice with different options or fix the bed level.
Skirts prime the nozzle- getting the filament to first adhere to the build platform is necessary for the entire print. Once the filament starts to stick it usually will continue to.
Skirts can also help block any air drafts that might blow the filament away from adhering in the 1st layer of the print
To use skirts as a bed adhesion tool
- Make the value of Skirt Offset from part to 0
- Set the number of Skirt outlines to 10 or 15 ,so that it forms an extended outer perimeter of the first layer
- This also doubles as a primer for the nozzle
- Also can be used to make minor adjustments to the distance between the bed and the nozzle , before the first layer begins printing