Can You 3D Print Directly on Glass? Best Glass for 3D Printing


3D printing on glass is something that works really well for build plate adhesion and getting a great finish on the bottom of 3D prints, but some people can’t figure out how to do it right.

I decided to write an article about 3D printing directly on glass, answering the basic questions that should set you in the right direction to 3D print like the professionals out there!

Keep on reading to get some useful information that you can put to use straight away in your printing process.

Can You 3D Print Directly on Glass?

3D printing directly on glass is possible and is popular with many users out there. Adhesion can be difficult on a glass bed, so it’s recommended that you use adhesives to help your 3D prints stick to the glass and not warp around the edges. A good bed temperature is fundamental for 3D printing on glass.

You’ll see plenty of 3D printer beds that are made out of glass because it has many characteristics which make it ideal for 3D printing. One of the main benefits is how glass tends to stay flat and not warp like other bed surfaces out there.

The bottom layer of your 3D prints also look better when printed on a glass bed, giving a smooth, shiny look. You can produce certain effects at the bottom of your 3D prints depending on what surface you use.

How Do You Make a 3D Prints Stick on Glass?

When we talk about 3D printing in general, the issue of bed adhesion arises. Often, bed adhesion can make or break your print and I remember how it feels to have a 3D print going successful for hours, then failing out of nowhere.

There are multiple ways to make your 3D print stick to the glass bed better so take these tips on and implement them in your own routine as you see fit.

The good thing is glass bed adhesion is quite easy to figure out, let’s see how.

Leveling Your Bed Surface

Leveling the bed is the foremost thing you should do before beginning your printing process. Level the bed in such a way that any point on the build plate is the same distance away from the nozzle.

It may seem minor, but it plays a critical role in glass bed adhesion and determining the quality of your print.

Ideally, you implement a strategy which means your bed doesn’t move very much in the first place. One thing I found to help reduce the need to level your bed so often are Marketty Bed Leveling Springs from Amazon.

These work so well because they are much stiffer than your stock bed springs, meaning they don’t move as much. It helps your overall stability during the printing process, and means you don’t have to level your bed all the time.

Many people who were first reluctant to change their bed springs changed over and were very happy with the results.

One user even said that after 20 prints, they still didn’t need to level the bed!

You can also get yourself an automatic bed leveling system to help correctly level your bed. The ANTCLABS BLTouch Auto Bed Leveling Sensor from Amazon is a pretty good choice for this.

It works with any kind of bed surface and is pretty easy to apply. You do need to gather up some basic information and firmware settings to get it working, but there are some great tutorials you can follow to get there properly.

Once you calibrate your Z-offset, you shouldn’t really have to level your bed in the future, and it even accounts for a warped surface (glass is usually flat so this doesn’t matter too much).

Cleaning Your Print Surface

Cleaning the bed paves way for good adhesion and a successful print. Make sure you clean the bed before printing and in between if the need arises. Often, dirt, oil, or grease can be present on your glass bed.

It will create a layer on the bed thereby not allowing the print to stick to it. By ensuring your glass bed is clean at all times, bed adhesion won’t be an issue anymore. You can use a glass cleaner or isopropyl alcohol for this purpose.

Using an alcohol-based cleaner works to break down the dirt and easily remove it from the bed. I’d recommend going with the Dynarex Alcohol Prep Pads from Amazon, which is saturated with 70% isopropyl alcohol.

Check out this video below for some great tips for making prints stick on glass just using dishwasher liquid! He says you can wash your bed every 10-20 prints and it should work well, but if the bed gets dusty it can mess with adhesion.

Add an Extra Build Surface to the Glass

Users suggest investing in a PEI (Polyetherimide) sheet if you’re aiming for large prints.

You’ll love the Gizmo Dorks PEI Sheet with Preapplied Laminated 3M Adhesive from Amazon. Thousands of users are making use of this premium bed surface for good reason.

It installs quickly onto your 3D printer with a bubble-free application, and is endlessly reuseable for multiple prints. ABS and PLA filaments can easily print directly on this PEI surface without the need of extra adhesives.

Using Adhesives

If you do want to go the adhesives route, like plenty of 3D printer hobbyists out there, then you have many options.

When using adhesives, people tend to go for products like glue sticks, hairsprays, or specialized 3D printer bed adhesives for the task.

For glue sticks, tons of people recommend the Elmer’s Purple Disappearing Glue Sticks from Amazon because they work so well. It is non-toxic, easily washable, and let’s you easily see where you applied it.

After applying, the purple marks disappear which is a really cool feature.

Figure out why plenty of people love these glue sticks and get a set from Amazon for yourself.

For hairsprays to use on your glass 3D printer bed, I’d recommend the L’Oreal Paris Advanced Control Hairspray from Amazon. It’s the hold aspect of the hairspray that provides the great adhesive plenty of people use for their bed surfaces.

Reviewers that have used this for 3D printing mention that say it is fantastic for having your 3D prints stick down with no warping. The prints even “pop out easily once your build plate cools”, and on top of all that, it’s very affordable.

One of the most popular specialized 3D printer adhesives has to be the Layerneer 3D Printer Adhesive Bed Glue from Amazon. Using glue sticks can be quite messy, as one user mentioned, but after changing over to this, he was very pleased.

The great thing about this adhesive is that you don’t need to keep on reapplying it, and one single coat can be recharged with a wet sponge to get more uses. Over time, although the price is higher, it is really cheap in the long run.

You aren’t getting any harsh smells since it is low-odor, and it’s water soluble also. The built-in foam tip makes application to your glass bed very simple, and spill-proof.

On top of all of this, you get a full 3 months or 90 days manufacturer guarantee so you can ensure that it works just as you desire.

You’ll be joining plenty of users who have transformed their 3D printing experience with the Layerneer Bed Adhesive Glue, so get yourself a bottle today.

 

Regulating Z-Offset

Proper distance between the nozzle and print bed is fundamental for good adhesion and successful prints. The filament won’t stick to the glass bed if the nozzle is far away.

Likewise, if the nozzle is too close to the bed, your first layer may not look so good. You want to adjust your Z-offset in a way that leaves just enough room for your printing filament to stick to the glass bed.

This can usually be solved with leveling your bed surface, but if you add a glass bed to your 3D printer, you’ll either need to move your Z-endstops or increase your Z-offset.

Adjust Your Bed Temperature

Adjusting your bed temperature can definitely improve your results when it comes to bed adhesion. When you increase your bed temperature, it usually helps with adhesion due to not letting filament cool too rapidly.

I’d recommend increasing your bed temperature in 5-10°C increments to combat bed adhesion issues.

A lot of warping issues come from quick changes in temperature, so having a more consistent bed temperature helps out.

One product that helps out with improving your bed temperature through faster heating, and keeping temperatures consistent is the HWAKUNG Heated Bed Insulation Mat from Amazon.

Print Speed and Fan Settings

Print speed can also be responsible for glass bed adhesion issues. A print speed too fast can cause ringing and under extrusion, leading to poor glass bed adhesion.

Make sure you slow down your first few layers in your slicer to give it a better success rate of sticking to your glass bed.

For your fan settings, your slicer usually defaults to having the fan off, so double-check that your fan is off during the first few layers.

Add Rafts or Brims to the Print

Within your slicer software, you can add some build plate adhesion in the form of a raft or brim to make your 3D prints stick to glass better. They are created with an air gap, so the extra material can easily be separated from your actual model.

You don’t use much plastic for rafts and brims depending on the size of your 3D print, but you can reduce how much it extends out. The default “Raft Extra Margin” in Cura is 15mm, but you can reduce this to about 5mm.

It is simply how far out the raft extends out from your model.

What Types of Glass is Used for 3D Printing?

3D printing involves printing on surfaces of various kinds, ranging from acrylic to aluminum to glass beds. Glass beds are increasingly gaining popularity among creators and 3D printing enthusiasts alike.

3D printing on glass offers plenty of advantages over its traditional counterparts. Now let’s look at the types of glass used for 3D printing.

  • Borosilicate Glass
  • Tempered Glass
  • Regular Glass (Mirrors, Picture Frame Glass)

Borosilicate Glass

A blend of boron trioxide and silica, Borosilicate is highly durable, has an extremely low coefficient of thermal expansion, and is resistant to thermal shock as well.

Unlike regular glass, Borosilicate glass does not crack under extreme and sudden temperature change, minimal to no physical changes occur during the printing process.

These properties make Borosilicate glass an optimal choice for industrial and technical applications, laboratories, and wineries, etc.

Borosilicate glass when paired with a heated bed largely helps reduce the possibility of warping, as the heated bed slows down the cooling process of the printed item.

Borosilicate glass offers an immaculate surface quality in addition to having good thermal and chemical resistance, no air bubbles, and high durability. This makes it an ideal choice for 3D printing.

Creators worldwide swear by Borosilicate glass, have received exceptional results consistently, and highly recommend it to users.

Tempered Glass

Tempered glass, in simple terms, is glass treated to provide better thermal stability. It means that this glass can be subjected to higher temperatures with no adverse effects to deal with. It is possible to heat tempered glass up to 240°C.

If you intend on printing with extremely high-temperature filaments like PEEK or ULTEM, tempered glass is your ideal choice.

With tempered glass, you can’t cut it to size because the way it’s manufactured means it will pop. Tempering the glass provides it with more mechanical strength, and is good protection against mechanical shocks.

Regular Glass or Mirrors

Apart from the above mentioned types of glass, users also 3D print with regular glass, mirrors, and glass used in photo frames, etc. This has more of a tendency to break since it is not treated to withstand those higher temperatures and print removal.

Some people have mentioned that they get pretty good success with them though. Many people have reported getting 3D prints sticking a little too well to these types of glass, requiring them to put it in the fridge to detatch the print.

What is the Best Glass Surface for a 3D Printer?

Borosilicate glass is the best glass surface for 3D printing. With low thermal expansion, high heat and temperature shock resistance, Borosilicate glass makes for an ideal choice for 3D printing.

Its smooth, flat, and strong surface provides consistent results with great bed adhesion and little to no warping issues.

Incredibly easy to clean and maintain, 3D printing on this glass will give you a delightful experience.

If you’re looking to invest in a glass surface that will not only give you excellent prints, immaculate surface quality, and minimal adhesion issues but also help you save money, time, and energy, Borosilicate glass is for you.

I’d recommend getting yourself the Dcreate Borosilicate Glass from Amazon for a respectable price. It comes in at a 235 x 235 x 3.8mm size and a weight of 1.1 lbs.

One user who implemented this bed had trouble at first, but with some good hairspray, they got their PLA 3D prints sticking very well.

Since these beds don’t warp, you don’t need a raft as much as with a warped 3D print bed since it doesn’t have to account for those uneven surfaces, but it can still help out if you choose to.

Rather than continuing with window glass, a reviewer said it cracked and scratched easily. Since getting theirselves a borosilicate glass bed, they noticed how thick the glass is and how it holds and distributes heat effectively.

This fits an Ender 3 just perfectly according to many people, so I’d definitely look to getting this as an upgrade to your 3D printer today.

You’re also getting an 18-month warranty and a 100% hassle-free replacement for quality issues.

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