How to prevent warping on FDM prints? 6 Effective ways

Warping in your prints is always cause for concern. At the very least it means your part isn’t dimensionally accurate, but it can also cause the print to come off the bed. There are multiple ways to prevent this from occurring, but knowing when to use it is important. Sometimes you simply need to change the bed temperature, other times it may be that adhesive is needed, or most drastically an enclosure.

3d print warping

Below are the ways you can prevent warping on your FDM prints.

Different build plate temperature

One possibility is that your build plate is too cold for the environment you’re in and/or the filament you’re using. PLA, for example, usually can be printed on a cold bed if the air around the printer is roughly at room temperature, but if it’s rather cold in the room the printer is in. You might need to bring the build plate temperature up to 70 C instead of 60 C if your printer isn’t enclosed. Most polymers actually need a heated bed at different temps. There is usually a 20 C range for the bed temperature printed on the spool. You might need to fiddle with this for each spool you get.

These variables can cause variations in build temperature, which in turn can lead to 3D print warping. Let’s explore these factors using examples:

  • Room Temperature:
    • Example: Suppose you are 3D printing in a room with a low ambient temperature, around 15°C (59°F).
    • Effect: In a cold environment, the build temperature may be lower than optimal, causing slower material cooling and adhesion issues. This can lead to warping, especially for materials like ABS.
  • Material Used:
    • Example: You are printing a large object using PLA filament, which typically prints well at around 190-220°C (374-428°F).
    • Effect: If you use PLA in an environment where the build temperature is too high, say above 30°C (86°F), it can soften prematurely, causing deformation and warping during printing.
  • 3D Print Design:
    • Example: Consider a design where the object has tall, thin features with minimal infill.
    • Effect: Such a design can be prone to warping because the material cools quickly in thin areas, leading to uneven stresses and deformation. Warping may occur more if the build temperature is not appropriately controlled.
  • Bed Temperature:
    • Example: You are printing with a material like PETG that typically requires a heated bed at around 80-85°C (176-185°F).
    • Effect: If the bed temperature is not accurately set, the material may not adhere well to the build surface, especially during the first layers. This poor adhesion can lead to warping as the print progresses.
  • Printing Environment:
    • Example: Your 3D printer is placed near an open window with a draft.
    • Effect: Drafts or sudden temperature changes caused by an open window can disrupt the build temperature. This can cause uneven cooling, especially in the initial layers, leading to warping and poor layer adhesion.
  • Enclosure:
    • Example: You are printing ABS, which benefits from an enclosed print chamber to maintain a stable temperature.
    • Effect: Without an enclosure, the build temperature can fluctuate due to drafts and temperature variations, leading to warping. An enclosure helps maintain a consistent environment for better print quality.

To mitigate the risk of 3D print warping, you should consider these factors when setting up your 3D printer:

  • Use a heated build platform if your material requires it.
  • Maintain a consistent room temperature or use an enclosure to control the environment.
  • Ensure proper bed leveling and adhesion methods like using adhesives or rafts.
  • Experiment with different print settings like brims, skirts, or increasing the infill for complex designs.
  • Choose materials suitable for your environment and intended use, considering their specific temperature requirements.

By carefully managing the build temperature and considering these variables, you can reduce the chances of 3D print warping and achieve more successful and accurate prints.

3d print warping

Different build plate

Some polymers don’t adhere very well to certain surfaces or adhere better to one surface compared to another. In my tests, PLA doesn’t adhere very well to Galorite and can actually warp off of that surface very easily. Other polymers like ABS stick better to PEI than glass if you’re doing larger prints on an unenclosed printer. It’s important to note however that you don’t want too much adhesion, as PETG and PCTG can actually adhere to glass enough to shatter it.

Certainly, let’s explore some real-life examples to illustrate how different polymers adhere to various surfaces and the consequences of poor or excessive adhesion:

  • PLA and Galorite:
    • Example: You’re using PLA filament for a 3D print on a Galorite (a type of acrylic) print bed surface.
    • Issue: PLA doesn’t adhere well to Galorite, and during the print, you notice that the corners of your object are lifting off the surface.
    • Consequence: Poor adhesion can result in warping and failed prints, where the edges of your PLA object curl up, leading to a misshapen or unusable print.
  • ABS on PEI vs. Glass:
    • Example: You’re printing a large ABS part on an unenclosed 3D printer.
    • Choice: You have two options for the print surface – PEI and glass.
    • Observation: ABS adheres better to PEI than to glass, especially when printing larger parts without an enclosure.
    • Consequence: Using PEI can help prevent warping and ensure better adhesion for ABS prints. Printing on glass might lead to poor adhesion, warping, and an unsuccessful print.
  • PETG and Glass Adhesion:
    • Example: You decide to print PETG filament on a glass print bed.
    • Issue: PETG has strong adhesion properties and can adhere too well to glass.
    • Consequence: The PETG print sticks so firmly to the glass that when you try to remove it, it shatters the glass surface or leaves a sticky residue, making it difficult to clean and reuse the glass bed.

These real-life examples emphasize the importance of selecting the right print surface for the specific polymer you’re using. It’s essential to consider the material’s adhesion characteristics and the potential consequences of poor or excessive adhesion. You may need to experiment with different surfaces, adhesives, or printing temperatures to achieve the desired level of adhesion for each material and application. Properly managing adhesion can help prevent warping, ensure successful prints, and protect your printer’s build surface.

3d print warping

Drafts

Some polymers don’t take lightly to drafts. ABS filament is most commonly known for this. To remedy this, you can use a draft shield in your slicer to prevent fast-moving air from hitting the print. A more foolproof solution would be to use an enclosure of some kind. Some printers have a built-in enclosure, but for others, you can either buy a flame-retardant tent or use a cardboard box. Just make sure that when you’re using a cardboard box that a heating element isn’t going to hit the walls of it.

Sometimes these drafts can be coming from your part cooling fans, especially if you’re printing in the open air. It’s important to know how strong you can have your part cooling for you’re specific polymer and printer.

An enclosure

Sometimes a draft shield isn’t enough, some polymers require proper heated air to prevent them from warping. Some printers, like Vorons, are generally sealed enough to do some of these polymers, but with specialty polymers, a chamber heater might be in order. Those can usually be jerry-rigged from a PTC heater off of Aliexpress, just make sure proper precautions are made for it to not catch anything on fire, melt anything important, or overheat essential components.

Do note that sometimes an enclosure can be the issue, particularly with PLA. Some printers recommend keeping the door of the enclosure open so that PLA doesn’t warp while in the enclosure with the bed heater on.

Bed Adhesives

Sometimes a passive enclosure isn’t enough or your bed surface isn’t ideal for a certain polymer. In that case, it’d be a good time to find your child’s Elmer’s glue stick or your wife’s hair spray and apply that to your bed. There are also more specialized adhesives meant mainly for 3d printing.

You can make a glue for ABS filament or ASA filament by mixing the polymer with acetone and then applying that to the bed surface. Nylons tend to only stick to glass if glue is applied to the bed. But I have heard reports that Nylons will stick to PEI without them.

It’s important to note that you might also want to use adhesives as a release agent. As I mentioned before PETG and PCTG can shatter glass when printed onto it. Applying glue to the bed acts as a release agent and can prevent a messy and possibly hazardous cleanup of broken borosilicate glass.

Choosing the right adhesive for 3D printing is crucial for ensuring proper adhesion, preventing warping, and facilitating easy print removal. Before buying an adhesive, consider the following factors:

  • Material Compatibility:
    • Different 3D printing materials have varying adhesion properties. Some may adhere well to certain surfaces, while others may require adhesive assistance.
    • Consider the specific filament you plan to use and check its recommended bed adhesion techniques. Some common materials that may require adhesives include ABS, ASA, Nylon, and certain flexible filaments like TPU.
  • Print Surface:
    • Evaluate your printer’s bed surface. Materials like glass, PEI sheets, BuildTak, and textured print surfaces each have unique adhesion characteristics.
    • Some surfaces work better with specific adhesives. For example, glass may benefit from glue sticks, while PEI sheets often work well without adhesives for some materials.
  • Printing Environment:
    • The ambient temperature and humidity in your printing environment can affect adhesion. High humidity can cause certain materials to lose adhesion, while low temperatures can slow down adhesion processes.
    • Consider whether you need an adhesive that works well under your specific environmental conditions.
  • Application Method:
    • Some adhesives come in stick form (glue sticks), sprays, or liquid solutions. Consider which application method is most convenient for your setup.
    • Additionally, some adhesives require spreading or dilution, while others are ready to use out of the container.
  • Ease of Cleanup:
    • Some adhesives may require thorough cleaning between prints to maintain their effectiveness. Others can build up over time and may require periodic removal.
    • Consider how easy it is to clean and reapply the adhesive, as well as the potential impact on your print bed’s longevity.
  • Safety:
    • Some adhesives, like those mixed with acetone for ABS, can be hazardous to work with due to fumes or flammability. Ensure you have proper ventilation and take safety precautions when using such adhesives.
  • User Experience and Reviews:
    • Read user reviews and forums related to 3D printing adhesives. The experiences of other 3D printing enthusiasts can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of different products.
  • Cost:
    • Consider the cost-effectiveness of the adhesive. Some specialized 3D printing adhesives can be relatively expensive, so balance their cost with the value they provide in terms of successful prints and ease of use.
  • Experimentation:
    • Be prepared to experiment with different adhesives and application techniques to find what works best for your specific materials and printer setup. What works for one person may not work for another due to differences in equipment and conditions.

In conclusion, choosing the right adhesive for 3D printing requires careful consideration of your specific needs, materials, and printing environment. It may involve some trial and error to find the optimal solution, but investing time in this process can lead to more successful and hassle-free 3D prints

Brims, Rafts, and mouse ears

If all else fails, maybe using one of these settings can help. With brims, the brim will warp before the print will, which is particularly helpful with open-air printing of some ABS. Rafts can also be used to a similar effect, but if you don’t have a heated bed they can help with warping when printing with PLA.

Utilizing mouse ears varies with the slicer. The general premise is that they add surface area without the post-processing of a brim or raft. In Cura, there’s a plugin for them. Prusa slicer has a helper disk in the shapes gallery you can use to replicate a mouse ear.

Conclusion

Warping can be problematic for many reasons, subsequently, there are many ways to remedy warping. Hopefully, the methods listed above help you reduce the amount of times you get failed prints due to this.

Ethan Robert
Ethan Robert

Hi, I'm Ethan.

After graduating from the University of North Dakota, I started knowing the CNC and that becomes my passion.

Earlier, I had fascination of 3d printers, Laser cutters and other CNC machines. Later on, I started analyzing those machine and started blogging on my known things by a different way.

I aim to assist you with the insights of 3d printer, laser engravers and computer printers with the help that you save your money and take the right decision before you purchase any machine.

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