Figuring out what the best build surface for different materials can be confusing since there are so many different types, as well as different filaments. This article should help you pick the best bed surface for different materials.
Read through this article for details on the best build surfaces for materials like PLA, ABS, PETG & TPU.
Best Build Surface for 3D Printing PLA
The best build surface for PLA that most users have found useful is a flexible steel bed with a PEI surface. It provides great adhesion without the need of adhesive products, and even releases models after the bed cools down. You can flex the build plate to help remove prints as well.
One user said they have been having issues getting their PLA off their print bed and that they have tried the painter’s tape and other materials to no avail until someone suggested using the PEI. They said the print stayed put during printing and popped right off when it was done.
You can get the HICTOP Flexible Steel Platform with PEI Surface and Magnetic Bottom Sheet on Amazon as it is currently available for users to purchase. There are two options, one with the textured side, and a double-sided smooth & textured side.
It also left a pebble surface finish which was perfect for their print at the time.
If your printer has a magnetic steel platform, you may not need the sheet magnet that comes with the PEI since the magnet will be able to hold it down without a tape.
Another user said they have no issues using the build platform with PLA as long as they keep it well leveled and clean. They clean the surface with hot water and dish soap then dry with a paper towel. You can also try this to clean the build surface.
It is very easy to use and you can use it by simply sticking the magnetic bottom sheet onto your heated bed, then placing the steel platform with a PEI surface on the top. Please note that the maximum temperature for printing is 130℃ on the bed.
It has about 4.6 out of 5-star rating at the time of writing so you may want to check it out.
Here’s a cool video that takes you through different print surfaces for your 3D printer.
Best Build Surface for ABS Printing
A Borosilicate Glass Bed or PEI has proven to be the best build surface for printing ABS as they stick better and are easy to remove from these surfaces. If you print using ABS on a well level and Borosilicate glass surface at 105°C. It’s a good idea to use ABS slurry & an enclosure for the best adhesion.
Several users also testified to PEI being one of the best build surfaces for ABS printing. You can easily remove the ABS print from the build surface which results in a bottom surface that is clean and smooth.
A user said they print their ABS at a temperature of 110°C and it sticks fine on their PEI.
Another user who also prints their ABS at 110°C without glues or slurries said they don’t have any adhesion issues. However, they said their printer isn’t enclosed, so they put a big cardboard box over the printer when they print ABS and they have no issues with adhesion.
Even with larger 3D prints, they should stick fairly well as long as you have a good uniform heat. You can choose to use ABS slurry to help get better adhesion.
You can always try this out and see if it works well for you so you can use it as your go-to build surface when printing with ABS filament.
Check out my article on How to Fix ABS Prints Not Sticking to the Bed for more info.
Best Print Surface for PETG 3D Prints
The best print surface for PETG prints is a glass build surface with something like Kapton tape or Blue Painter’s tape so it’s not directly on the glass. People also have success with a PEI surface, as well as a BuildTak surface. Using glue as an adhesive works great because it stops the PETG from adhering too much.
The main important factors to getting PETG 3D prints to stick to the bed is to get a good balance of bed heat, along with an optimal first layer squish.
You can also use a BuildTak Sheet with a normal heated bed for the best results when painting with PETG.
The BuildTak Sheet has an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars at the time of writing and a lot of users testified to its compatibility and ease of use with their PETG.
A user said using rafts for adhesion can be a lot of work so they tried using BuildTak sheet with a well level bed and their print adhesion improved significantly. Although it can be a little difficult to remove , it can be done.
Another user who uses the build task sheet with a normal heated bed said they never had issues with the print not sticking and they get a nice underside to the print also.
It is also recommended to her a glass bed with hairspray at a temperature of 70°C without warping.
There is also someone who mentioned on a 3D printing forum that they spoke to a user who said they lowered PETG glass adhesion by coating the bed with some dish soap so you may also want to try this out to see if it works for you.
Some people have unfortunately had issues with PETG prints sticking too well to glass beds and actually ripping off a part of the glass bed. This is known to happen if you have scratches in your bed, or you try to remove prints while the bed is still hot.
You should let PETG prints cool down completely so the thermal changes cause the adhesion to weaken.
Another suggested print surface for PETG is PEI. A user who was using a 1mm sheet of PEI said it worked great for their PETG and made their 3D printing process easier all around.
You can get just the Gizmo Dorks PEI Sheet 1mm Thick from Amazon for a decent price.
You can try out all these build surfaces and go for the one that works best for you.
Best Print Surface for TPU Filament
The best print surface for TPU filament is a warm glass surface with glue, using a temperature of 40°C – 60°C depending on the brand. Some people also use Blue Painter’s tape or even hairspray as an extra surface for TPU to adhere nicely.
You can print TPU filament on a warm Glass Build Surface with glue at a temperature of 40°C – 60°C depending on the brand.
I’d recommend using Elmer’s Purple Disappearing Glue to get your prints to adhere really well. I personally use this glue and it helps out a lot for larger models or models that have a small footprint.
You can lay down the glue while the bed is warm in a grid pattern, then allow it to disappear as it dries.
Another user who bought the Lulzbot Printer said the glass build surface worked perfectly well for them with TPU prints.
Avoid removing TPU prints from a cold bed since it can actually cause damage. One user who removed a large blue TPU directly on a PEI bed from a Prusa had the surface bond with the material and actually rip a part of the bed.
Is PEI a Good Surface for 3D Printing?
Yes, PEI is a good surface for 3D printing. Almost all common filaments from PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU, and Nylon stick well with PEI build surface. PEI often gives a glossy finish on prints. After the bed cools down, 3D prints start to lose adhesion so they are easier to remove from the build plate.
When it comes to cleaning the PEI, it can be easily cleaned with alcohol but you may want to refrain from using acetone on it.
A 3D printer hobbyist who uses PEI for all their build surfaces said they have never had an issue while printing as long as they clean their build surface after every 5-10 prints
Best Replacement Bed for Ender 3
The best replacement bed for an Ender 3 is:
- Spring steel PEI magnetic bed
- Tempered glass build plate
I highly recommend getting yourself a HICTOP Flexible Steel Bed with PEI Surface from Amazon. It has a magnetic surface which is strong enough to hold it in place well. I’ve had other magnetic beds that didn’t hold up so well, so having this one is great.
In terms of adhesion, my 3D prints stick very well to the PEI surface, and after it cools, the parts are very easy to remove since the thermal change reduces adhesion. You can even flex the build plate to help get larger prints off easily.
One user who runs around 20 printers 24/7 mentioned that this bed was the best for ABS adhesion after trying several alternatives.
Another really cool feature is how it leaves the bottom surface of all your 3D prints with a smooth, yet textured feel. This will really change your 3D printing journey for the better, reducing the need to mess with adhesion methods and getting frustrated with removing prints.
Installation is very simple, only requiring you to stick the magnetic surface on your printer’s aluminum bed base by peeling off the adhesive back, then placing the magnetic bed ontop of the magnetic surface.
A glass bed is one of the more popular choices for replacing your Ender 3 or 3D printer’s bed. One of the key benefits is the flatness of glass surfaces. These beds also have a microporous composite coating that improves adhesion. It is durable and sturdy so you won’t have to replace it like other bed surfaces.
Glass is also really easy to clean with a little heat, water/isopropyl alcohol and a cloth. You can even run it under a warm tap with soapy water for a more thorough cleaning.
Do remember to re-calibrate your Z-axis since the glass bed has a decent amount of height to it, or you’ll risk the nozzle digging into the glass surface and leaving potential damage.
You can either raise your Z-endstop or make adjustments to the leveling knobs and screws to account for the height of the bed.
Glass beds are great for larger models, where having a level bed is very important. The bottom of your models should look a lot better as well, leaving a smooth mirror finish.
Best Magnetic Build Plate for 3D Printing
The best magnetic build plate is the spring steel with a PEI sheet. You can also get a spring steel sheet with a powder coated PEI on it. It has a similar advantage as the glass build surface because of the steel’s rigidity. You can easily get the prints up by flexing them so the prints can pop off.
However, when printing PETG on PEI, you should use a glue stick to prevent the material from adhering too well to the build surface.
A user who used the glass build platform said it printed well but it was difficult to detach prints with large surfaces from the platform. They tried the flexible PEI plate and their prints stuck well and came off easily when flexed.
Again, you can get the HICTOP Flexible Steel Bed with PEI Surface from Amazon.
A user who reviewed the PEI said they researched and discovered that a lot of people recommend the PEI magnetic sheet. They ordered the sheet and installation, cleaned the surface with 91% Isopropyl alcohol, and started a print.
The print stuck to the bed perfectly and after printing, they pulled off the magnetic PEI sheet and the print popped right off.
Check out the video below by CHEP showing off a PEI bed on an Ender 3.
Is Glass Build Plate Better for 3D Printing?
Judging from different users’ reviews about the glass build surface, it may not be the best choice for 3D printing compared to other build surfaces. So many users mentioned other build plates that they prefer to glass build surfaces, especially the PEI surface beds.
The glass build plate sometimes needs some coating such as hairspray or glue sticks to increase adhesion, unless you give it a really good clean and use enough heat from the bed. PETG may have adhesion issues if the build plate is not well sprayed with hairspray or glue stick.
A user said whenever they print PETG without their glue stick, they always have adhesion issues and they always use it in printing especially small parts.
Glass can be a poor conductor of heat which is one of the reasons why it may not be a better choice for 3D printing. Several users recommend the PEI instead of a glass build plate.
Do All 3D Printers Have the Same Print Bed?
No, all 3D printers do not have the same print bed. Borosilicate glass beds are a popular choice with 3D printer manufacturers, as well as magnetic beds but these usually last a few months before needing replacement. You can check which bed your 3D printer would come with by simply checking the product page.
3D printers also come with print beds that fit in their various builds. Depending on the model of the printer, the print bed can be stationary or move in a specific direction. They can also have different surfaces such as glass, aluminum, PEI, BuildTak, and others.