How to Fix 3D Prints Warping, Curling, Lifting From Bed? Easy Steps

Most people who’ve worked with 3D printers are familiar with warping and it’s a problem that plagues many users. You’ll be happy to know there are a series of methods to reduce warping to the point where you can get consistently successful prints without experiencing warping.

This article will show you precisely, how this problem is solved for good.

How Do I Fix Warping/Curling? The best methods to fix warping/curling is to make sure you have the correct bed surface temperature for your material, to use a good cooling system which might include new, strong fans and to reduce the speed of your printer so it has more time to properly adhere to the build plate and not lift from the bed.

What Is Warping in 3D Prints?

To put it into simple terms, warping is referred as the phenomenon in which the base of the print starts to curl upwards, potentially laying waste to the entirety of the print itself.

When a 3D print lifts up from the bed, it can essentially ruin a print, especially ones that need precision and have functionality which require it to hold its original shape. Luckily, there are solutions to stop your 3D prints lifting off the print bed.

This can be due to a number of reasons which we’ll go through timely.

Tips and Tricks on Stopping 3D Prints Warping/Curling

A little piece of extra information here and there could prove effectively useful when the time for practicality is upon us.
The following are a must-know for anyone wanting to be a step ahead.

  1. Printing filament, especially ABS in an enclosed printer usually helps produce the best results
  2. While it is important how adhesive the printing bed is, it’s essential to watch out for dirt, grease, and dust on there.
  3. Adding to the point above, cleaning the bed with Isopropyl Alcohol can sparkle up the printing platform.
  4. A great way to keep warping under check is to slow down the cooling process and try to keep it uniform

Why Does Warping & Curling Occur in 3D Printing?

Prints that warp have their reasons, the most common being uneven cooling and weak adhesion to the printing bed or platform. 3D printing is a layer by layer process. Warping takes place when there is a considerable temperature difference between the layers.

Moreover, the principal cause could be the nature of plastic itself. Thermoplastics, in particular, contract when they are cooled down.

3D printing hails from a manufacturing mechanism called Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM). In FDM, a print is made by purposely extruding materials in a melted manner layer by layer presumably.

These materials are in fact, filaments called thermoplastics. What’s more to know that some thermoplastics might be more vulnerable to warping than others although generally speaking, the methods of curling prevention work for all.

The two most common filaments are:

  1. PLA (Polylactic Acid)
  2. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

PLA has a Melting Point of 173°C while ABS is considered amorphous meaning it doesn’t have a defined melting point but melts gradually over a range of temperatures.

PLA has a Glass Transition Temperature of 60℃ while ABS is 105°C.

Due to the lower temperature of printing, PLA comes out on top as less likely to warp, when properly cooled, as compared to ABS. This is because there is less of a temperature change that can happen when the operating temperature is lower.

These factors contribute to make ABS much more likely to warp while printing just because of its material properties.

How to Fix Warping & Curling in 3D Prints

Fortunately, print warping can be prevented and fixed through certain measures and it isn’t much difficult. As warping happens when temperature is unequal, maintaining it as much as possible is efficient in preventing warping.

Likewise, improving the adhesion of the printing platform also goes a long way in producing a presentable and professional print.

Hot Platform

A preheated platform makes it easier for the print to stick.

Modified Bed

Various kinds of adhesives are available to strengthen the binding ability of the printing platform. This helps in consolidating the base of the print.

The Cool Control

As told earlier, warping occurs due to substantial temperature differences. Keenly controlling the cooling of the initial plastic layers help in maintaining the temperature.

Level It Out

Optimizing the level of the printing bed is key to have good adhesion. The distance between the nozzle and the printing bed determines the quality of deposition of the first layer.

General Temperature Maintenance

Being careful in terms of not letting any unnecessary cold air near the print also helps in preventing warping.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

High speeds can never be good for anything. The ‘slow and steady’ method is applicable in 3D printing as well which attributes to less of a mess and more accuracy.

Covering the Entire Printer

Taking into account the overall temperature of the room in which the printing is going to happen, it’s also essential to have an enclosure over the whole printer to keep the heat in and minimize warping.

Use A Brim

A brim acts to increase the size of the print’s foundation. This accommodates easier printing and reduces the chances of warping.

If you think you’ve read it all by now, that was just the icing on the cake. To eliminate a problem effectively, it needs to be understood in-depth first. That’s exactly what is about to follow.

How Do You Stop PETG 3D Prints From Warping?

To stop your PETG 3D prints from warping or curling, you should:

  • Make sure the active cooling fans are turned off, at least for first layers
  • Use a better build surface for adhesion like BuildTak
  • Use a good adhesive substance for your build plate – hairspray or glue sticks
  • Print slowly on your first layer
  • Try decreasing your printing temperature and increasing your bed temperature
  • You can also dry your PETG filament to reduce its moisture content

Using a combination of the solutions above should help you with your PETG warping. It can be a fairly stubborn filament to work with, but once you get a good routine going, you’ll start to enjoy plenty of successful PETG prints.

The Science Behind Warps and Curls

The incident of warping is due to Thermal Contraction. 3D Printing being a process involving multiple layers of thermoplastics, becomes a victim of warping due to temperature.

To explain this in clearer terms, consider a layer just extruded from the printer nozzle and onto the printing bed. Now, as it begins to cool, it’ll start to shrink, as expected from a thermoplastic. The shrinking can be up to 1.5 depending on the type of filament used. Another layer is about to be deposited.

It’s only obvious that the new layer on top of the old layer is going to be relatively hotter because the old layer was thrust out early and has had time to cool, thus creating a temperature difference. This, ultimately, forms stress in the two layers.

The lower part of the top layer is tense while the upper part of the lower layer is under compression.

It’s only self-evident from here on out that warping is bound to occur when this collective stress of tension and compression becomes greater than the adhesion of the printing bed and the structure’s stiffness.

It may also be the case where a fully deposited layer cools down non-uniformly. An example would be its outer part being exposed to a colder ambience, making it shrink faster than the internal part.

While it’s partially possible to salvage a warped print, as soon as the incident occurs, the end product is dimensionally inaccurate and is subject to being discarded.

There are a number of factors to look out for if one ever hopes to print successfully.

The Proper Knowledge to Prevent Warping/Curling

Having a basic idea of what goes with what can help cut corners in preventing warping. Different thermoplastics work best when combined with certain adhesive products.

The most popular type of adhesive I’ve seen in the 3D printing community has to be glue sticks. Many 3D printer manufacturers have focused on creating a specialized glue stick just for 3D printing and one of the best ones have to be Fengwangli 3D Printer Glue Sticks.

It will give you strong adhesion and just one stick can last you for more than 100 average prints. You can use them on any type of build surface such as glass, PEI and aluminum.

Magigoo 3D Printer Adhesives are premium products but are more targeted at those high performance materials such as Nylon (Polyamide) and Polypropylene. Moreover, hairsprays like 3DLac aim to form a decent grip for various filaments.

Additionally, there’s also the possibility of ABS Juice, a product of ABS filament engrossed in Acetone, a minuscule coat of which, is able to improve adhesion by leaps and bounds if applied on the bed. It can be made following the video below.

Therefore, cutting short the chances of warped prints. Fine-tuning the printer’s settings can also pinpoint whether the cause of warping is mechanical or not. The following data aims to point in the right direction.

For a couple of materials, the following table shows what settings give the print the best chance of success without warping.

ManufacturerMaterialMagigoo Type1st Layer Bed Temperature (°C)Default Bed Temperature (°C)Brim (mm)
VerbatimPP (PolypropylenePPGF807020

It shows that sometimes you’ll have to play around with the settings to make sure you reduce warping.

Raft, Brim and Skirt to Prevent Warping/Curling

Each having their pros and cons, these techniques prove to be highly useful in controlling warping when all other options have been exhausted.

Rafts form the initial layer before the printing even takes place. They exist so the print adheres to the bed more effectively and the chances of curling are reduced. However, it may cause the bottom layer to appear rough and it could be troublesome to set it apart from the model.

Brims concern themselves only with the outer regions of the model and not entirely below it, like a raft. It prevents warped prints with plastics like ABS but it does fall under the category of extra waste material

Skirts can be used with any print. They only purpose as an outline to accommodate printing. They serve no value to the print itself

Frequently Asked Questions On Warping

How do you fix a warped print?

Although it’s better to salvage the warped print, a fix can be tried by submerging them in hot water, forcing them in the right shape with tongs or whatever feasible and making them cool back at room temperature.

Why is my 3D print not sticking to the bed?

That might be because some filaments need a preheated bed to stick properly.

What temperature should the bed be for PLA?

Usually between 50-70C depending on the type and brand of PLA. This should be specified on the packaging of the PLA you purchased, so I would recommend following that guidance.

Does room temperature affect printing? Can it cause warping?

Yes, room temperature plays a major role in affecting printing. Some plastics such as ABS can have dramatic effects due to the difference in temperatures.

How do you increase plate adhesion?

The conventional methods involving rafts, skirts and brims greatly help in increasing plate adhesion.

How do you keep Nylon from warping?

Printing beds that have been preheated, work in preventing Nylon from warping but combine that with total enclosure of the printer and the effects would show massive improvement.

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