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.
To fix warping/curling in 3D prints, use an enclosure to control the ambient printing temperature and any rapid cooling that causes shrinkage in your prints. Use a good build plate temperature for your filament, make sure your build plate is clean and use adhesives so the print sticks to the build plate properly.
There’s more detail behind fixing 3D prints that warp so keep on reading for more.
What is Warping/Curling in 3D Prints?
Warping or curling in 3D prints is when the base or bottom of a 3D print starts to curl upwards and lift away from the build plate. It results in 3D prints losing dimensional accuracy and can even ruin the functionality and looks of a 3D model. It occurs due to shrinkage in the material from rapid temperature changes.
What Causes Warping & Lifting in 3D Printing?
The main causes of warping and curling is from temperature changes which causes shrinkage in your thermoplastic filament, along with a lack of adhesion to the build surface.
Below are some specific causes of warping in 3D printing:
- Rapid temperature changes from hot to cold or room temperature too cold
- Bed temperature too low or uneven heating on bed
- Drafts blowing cold air onto model, no enclosure
- Bad adhesion to the build plate
- Cooling settings not optimized
- Build plate not leveled
- Build surface is dirty with grime or dust
Whether your PLA is warping mid-print, warping on a glass bed or heated bed, the causes and fixes will be similar. Many people who have a 3D printer like an Ender 3 or Prusa i3 MKS+ experience warping, so let’s look into how to fix it.
How to Fix Warping in 3D Printing – PLA, ABS, PETG & Nylon
- Use an enclosure to reduce rapid changes in temperature
- Increase or lower your heated bed temperature
- Use adhesives so the model sticks to the build plate
- Ensure cooling is turned off for the first few layers
- Print in a room with a warmer ambient temperature
- Make sure your build plate is properly leveled
- Clean your build surface
- Reduce drafts from windows, doors, and air conditioners
- Use a Brim or Raft
1. Use an Enclosure to Reduce Rapid Changes in Temperature
One of the best methods to fix warping and prevent it happening to your 3D prints is to use an enclosure. This works because it does two things, keeps a warmer ambient temperature so your print doesn’t cool rapidly, and also reduces drafts from cooling your model.
Since warping usually occurs due to temperature changes, an enclosure is a perfect fix to preventing warping happening to your 3D prints. It should fix a lot of the issues but you may still need to implement some other fixes to get rid of warping once and for all.
I’d recommend getting something like the Comgrow Fireproof & Dustproof Enclosure from Amazon. It has plenty of positive reviews from other 3D printer users mentioning just how effective and useful the enclosure is.
One user mentioned that after they started using this enclosure, they no longer has prints warping on the corners, and adherence to their heated glass bed got a lot better. It also even slightly cuts down on noise pollution, so you don’t disturb others or yourself as much.
There are other temperature-related defects that 3D prints go through, so having this enclosure helps with many problems at once. Setup is pretty easy and it looks good overall.
3D prints that warp on one side can be quite annoying, so getting an enclosure can help to solve this issue.
2. Increase or Lower Your Heated Bed Temperature
Usually, increasing your bed temperature helps to reduce warping because it stops that rapid change in temperature since the heat emits nicely on the model. Follow your filament recommendation for bed temperature, but try increasing the bed temperature on the higher end.
Even for a filament like PLA, 60°C can work well even though many people recommend 30-50°C, so give different temperatures a try and see how it works for you. There are many types of 3D printers out there, as well as personal printing environments that can affect these things.
Check out my article on How to Get the Perfect Build Plate Adhesion Settings & Improve Bed Adhesion for more info.
One bed temperature for one user might work well, while it doesn’t work too well for another user, so it’s really down to trial and error.
You can also have a bed temperature that’s too high that can lead to warping due to rapid temperature changes, possibly due to having a cool ambient temperature.
If you have tried increasing your bed temperature, you can also try lowering it to see if it has a positive effect on reducing warping.
3. Use Adhesives so the Model Sticks to the Build Plate
Since warping is a movement that shrinks material, especially corners of your 3D prints, sometimes having a good adhesive on the build plate can stop the material from moving away.
Many people have fixed warping or curling in their 3D prints by simply applying a good adhesive and letting it do its magic.
There are plenty of adhesives out there that work for 3D printer beds. The most popular type of adhesive I’ve seen in the 3D printing community has to be glue sticks.
I’d recommend going with something like FYSETC 3D Printer Glue Sticks from Amazon.
A few coats of glue stick on the bed should give you a lovely foundation for your model to stick to so it doesn’t warp and shrink away from the build plate.
You can also take it to the next level and use a 3D printer specific adhesive like LAYERNEER 3D Printer Adhesive Bed Weld Glue from Amazon.
I wrote an article called Best 3D Printer Bed Adhesives – Sprays, Glue & More.
4. Ensure Cooling is Turned Off for the First Few Layers
Your slicer should have default cooling settings that turn the fans off for the first few layers, but you may want to turn it off for more layers if you are getting warping. I’d usually recommend trying out the other fixes before you do this because cooling contributes to better 3D print quality.
For a material like PLA, they usually recommend your cooling fans being on 100% so you may not want to turn it down for that.
If you are experiencing warping on a material like PETG or Nylon, you want to try adjusting your cooling settings to be lower so the material isn’t cooling too quickly.
You can change the layer height that your 3D printer fans start their regular speed directly in your Cura settings. If you get warping early on, it could be worth delaying where you start the fans.
Check out How to Get the Perfect Print Cooling & Fan Settings for more details.
5. Print in a Room with a Warmer Ambient Temperature
Similar to the fixes above, the main thing is having a better control on your temperature, especially the ambient temperature. If you are printing in a cold garage in the winter, you are a lot more likely to experience warping in your models, compared to printing in a warm office.
Be aware of the general temperature of where your 3D printer is placed so it’s not in an environment that’s too cool.
As mentioned above, an enclosure here can help. Some people have reduced warping by even using a space heater near their 3D printer, or placing the printer close to a radiator.
6. Make Sure Your Build Plate is Properly Leveled
Warping usually happens due to pressure from the rapid cooling and shrinking of material, but this can be countered by making sure your build plate is leveled better.
In addition to using adhesives like a glue stick, when your build plate is leveled nicely, it improves the adhesion of material to the build plate.
If your build plate isn’t leveled very well, the foundation and adhesive is going to be weaker than usual, increasing the chances that you experience warping.
Follow the video below by Uncle Jessy to level your build plate nicely.
For more details, check out my article How to Level Your 3D Printer Bed – Nozzle Height Calibration.
7. Clean Your Build Surface
Just like leveling your build plate is important for adhesion which helps to reduce warping, cleaning your build surface is equally as important.
We want to provide strong adhesion to the material extruded from the nozzle, but when the build plate is dirty or grimy, it doesn’t stick so well to the bed surface, especially with glass beds.
If you want to reduce warping in your 3D prints, make sure your build surface is nice and clean.
Many people would do something like clean it with isopropyl alcohol and a cloth, or even do a full clean with dish soap and warm water. You can also get sterile pads to help clean your beds, it’s really up to you what you do.
I wrote an article How to Clean a Glass 3D Printer Bed – Ender 3 & More that goes into more depth.
The video below shows you how to clean a print surface on the Ender 3 using a sock and some 70% Isopropyl Alcohol.
8. Reduce Drafts From Windows, Doors, and Air Conditioners
If you don’t have an enclosure, you definitely want to stop cool air and drafts from blowing on your 3D printed parts. I remember I had a strong draft due to having a window and a door open while 3D printing, and it resulted in really bad warping.
Once I closed the door and stopped the draft from blowing around the room, that warping quickly stopped and I successfully created my 3D model.
Try to identify where any gusts of wind are coming from, even from something like an air conditioner or air purifier, and try to reduce it or the impact on the 3D printer.
9. Use a Brim or Raft
Using a Brim or Raft focuses on the adhesion side of warping. These are simply extra layers of extruded material that provide a foundation around your 3D model.
Here is a Brim around a calibration cube. You can see how the Brim would help reduce warping since the actual model isn’t on the outside, so the Brim would warp first before the warping can reach the actual model.
Here is a Raft around a calibration cube. It looks very similar to the Brim but it is actually placed around and underneath the model, along with being thicker and having more settings to customize.
I usually prefer to use a Raft versus a Brim because it does the job better and you actually have a great foundation to remove your print from, but Brims still work well.
Check out my article about Skirts Vs Brims Vs Rafts – A Quick 3D Printing Guide for more details.
How to Fix a 3D Print That Has Warped – PLA
To fix a 3D print that has warped, try using a method of heat and pressure. Get a large metal surface like a frying pan which your 3D print can fit into the same way it came off the build plate. Take a hair dryer and heat up the 3D model all around evenly for about a minute. Now hold the print down and bend it flat.
The model will need to be held for a few minutes until it cools down, then repeat this process until your print is back to the shape you desire. Remember to heat up the model evenly with the hair dryer each time you do this. It requires you reach the glass transition temperature so it can be molded.
This method from RigidInk has worked well for many users to fix a warped 3D print, so it’s definitely worth a try.
As long as the warping on your model isn’t too bad or your 3D print isn’t too thick, it’s possible to save it.
You can also try this method in the video below with hot water by Make Anything.
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.
There isn’t necessarily a PETG warping temperature, so you can try different bed temperatures to reduce warping.
How to Keep Nylon Filament From Warping
To keep Nylon filament from warping, get yourself a heated enclosure and try using a smaller layer height. Some people have success by slowing down their print speed to around 30-40mm/s. Make sure your heated bed is hot enough for your specific brand of Nylon filament. PEI build surfaces work well for Nylon.
You can also try 3D printing a raft in a different material like PETG, then switching out for your Nylon filament to help reduce warping. PETG is a good material to use since it shares a similar printing temperature with Nylon.
One user mentioned that they overcame warping by printing a really large brim. Nylon sticks quite well to Blue Painter’s Tape according to some users, so that could work well to reduce warping.
Turning off your cooling fans should help to reduce warping in Nylon filament.
How to Fix PLA Warping on PEI
To fix PLA warping on a PEI bed surface, clean your bed surface with rubbing alcohol. For larger 3D prints, you can try turning on the bed for an extra few minutes so the heat has enough time to travel through the bed, especially if you have glass. Lightly sanding the PEI surface with 2,000 grit sandpaper can work.