3D printing without a raft can seem very difficult, especially for those larger 3D prints, but it’s very possible with the right advice. This article will aim to help you out with getting those successful prints without the need of rafts.
To 3D print without a raft, you should use a good enclosure to reduce drafts and keep a stable printing temperature. Having a good print orientation with the flatter surface on the print bed is ideal. You should use a good adhesive such as hairspray or a glue stick to help 3D prints stick to the bed.
This is the basic answer but there are some more details behind 3D printing without a raft that you’ll want to know, so keep reading on.
What is a Raft in 3D Printing?
A raft in 3D printing refers to a flat, thick structure around the exterior of your 3D prints to help with bed adhesion and to give a better foundation throughout the printing process.
Rafts are great at shielding your prints from the heat of the build plate and has plenty of surface area to stick down to it. You can increase it by going into “Expert” settings and changing the “Raft Extra Margin” settings, which defaults to 15mm.
It will create a stronger raft but does use more material.
A raft’s dimension is pre-determined, and it usually extends a few millimeters outside the print.
If you are new to 3D printing, you may be wondering why a raft is needed since prints are supposed to be solidified as soon as they are printed.
Well, the problem with 3D printing is that while the structure is already input into the printer, the first layer to be printed needs some sort of surface to adhere to.
This is where rafts come in.
They have a large surface area, and so they help to greatly improve adhesion of the print to the bed. It also helps to reduce warping which is when 3D print becomes twisted or bent out of shape.
You know what the great thing about rafts are? They are just there for support and won’t be part of the final print. They can be easily removed from the print once it cools down.
If you find rafts difficult to remove from your 3D prints, there is a setting in Cura under Rafts called “Raft Air Gap”. It is set at a default of 0.3mm, but it can be raised to make the raft easier to remove.
Often times, there may be inconsistencies with the calibration of your build plate or even warped edges, dents or scratches. A raft will help to compensate (by closing that gap) for those inconsistencies.
All major slicers, such as the Cura software slicer have available settings for rafts. You can also determine from the slicer if you will need a raft for your print or not.
I’d recommend using it for longer 3D prints, because there’s nothing worse than being hours into a print and seeing one corner going through serious warping, or detaching from the build plate altogether.
Do I Need a Raft For 3D Printing?
You don’t need a raft for 3D printing, especially for models that are small or already well-supported. You can definitely avoid rafts by using certain orientations and splitting your models, but rafts are very useful for complex models or models which don’t have a flat surface like a sphere.
Rafts are used a lot more often when making prints with ABS filament because ABS has high chances of warping.
They are very useful to improve your printing success overall, tackling issues like warping and weak build plate adhesion.
If you are working with other filaments that has been known to have little or no warp and sticks well to the printer bed, then rafts are not needed. I’ve 3D printed plenty of models without using a raft.
Have some models warped and failed on me that could have been saved with a raft? I’m sure there were, so it’s likely in your interest to make use of rafts when printing certain models and using certain materials.
While rafts can be beneficial, they add extra printing time to your 3D printing, and you would need to add extra filament too. Another downside to rafts is that they may adhere to the print and become difficult to remove.
The added printing time isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, and for the difficulty with removing rafts, we can increase that “Raft Air Gap” to make it easier.
To be sure if you indeed need a raft for your print, determine if you have any of the following:
- A flimsy 3D design base
- A print that has a lot of support layouts
- If your prints keep falling off during the printing process
- If your printing bed generally provides less adhesion
- If your prints are large or tall
Any of the things mentioned above may cause warping or failing of prints. If you have any of the issues with your printing, then you may consider using a raft.
However, if your Cura softer slicer do not state the need for a raft, and you do not have any of the issues above, then there may be no need for you to make use of a raft.
How Do You 3D Print Without a Raft?
As much as printing with rafts has its own advantage in 3D printing, there are also several benefits that can be obtained from printing without it. The first one being that you save more time and filament material when printing without raft.
The bottom surface of the print also turn out well as they are printed directly on the print bed and not unto a raft. You want to ensure you are doing things right when you try 3D printing without a raft.
- Use a good orientation where the flattest surface is along the print bed
- Dial in your temperature settings – which includes the printing temperature and bed temperature
- Reduce external factors such as drafts (could even be from walking past the printer), changes in heat
- Use a good enclosure around your print to reduce drafts and keep the heat in for a more stable operating temperature
- Apply a good 3D print adhesive like glue, hairspray, or special 3D printing substance
You’ll see much more success if you properly implement the Creality Fireproof & Dustproof Enclosure (Amazon) on your 3D printing setup. It’s a stable structure which keeps a constant print temperature, reduces negative effects from drafts, and is easy to install.
When trying to avoid warping, remember that the precaution should start way before you do the actual printing. Remember to input the correct orientation in your design software.
Check out the video below on how to orient your 3D prints like a pro.
Calibration is also very important when 3D printing whether with or without a raft. Improper calibration increases the chances of your print coming out deformed.
If you are making use of a glass bed, you may have to calibrate the bed manually by adjusting the platform screws. With the Cura software slicer, you can see the calibration tools and detailed instructions on how to go about it.
Dust and dirt are another thing that can contribute to warping in 3D printing. Make sure the remains from old prints are properly wiped off before starting a new print.
You should also pay attention to the temperature in the print room as differences in temperatures can lead to warped prints.
After following these instructions, if your prints are still coming out warped or not adhering to the bed, then the other thing you can try is applying a thin layer of glue stick unto the printing area.
A great glue you can use Elmer’s Glue Stick Jumbo 3-Pack from Amazon which has worked for plenty of 3D printer users. One user who described themselves as a “newbie” heard how people used glue to help warping, and said it works “super well”.
If you want a slightly different solution to help 3D prints stick to the bed and reduce warping, you can go with a great hairspray.
A great hairspray that many have used is L’Oréal Paris Advanced Control Hairspray from Amazon. It goes on your print bed really evenly, especially glass beds, dries quickly, and holds your 3D prints in place nicely.
How to Fix Raft Sticking to 3D Prints
There are many reasons why rafts may adhere to the prints and refuse to come off. The first reason is that your printing temperature is a little high, causing filament to adhere more to the main model.
Try printing at a lower temperature so that the materials doesn’t get too “molten” or softened. It’s similar to layer adhesion problems with printing temperature too low, you want to find the perfect printing temperature.
When printing with PLA, or any other material really, you also want to ensure that there is a stable temperature around the printer. Some materials print better at higher temperatures, some lower, but you want it to be stable.
A good way of keeping a stable temperature is by using an enclosure or heated chamber. Check out my article called 3D Printer Enclosures: Temperature & Ventilation Guide for some guidance on this.
As previously mentioned, you can also make use of the Raft setting in Cura called “Raft Air Gap” and raise this to increase the space between the raft and your model.
When getting the raft off, you can use a high quality putty knife to remove it.
A great one that works for many users is the Warner 3″ ProGrip Full Flex Putty Knife from Amazon. It has a high quality carbon steel blade, made in the USA, and although it is very flexible, it is also sturdy.
Does a Raft Help With Warping in 3D Printing?
Yes, using a raft helps out with warping in 3D printing. Warping usually happens at the first few layers on the edge of a print, so when you print with a raft it combats that rapid cooling on the exterior of warm plastic that causes the warping.
Warping is essentially your plastic shrinking from the changes in temperature and makes the corners of prints lift and detach from the bed. A raft protects that from happening.
If it doesn’t, the print may become loose and disfigured. This is where rafts come in as they help the 3D print to adhere to the build plate and prevent warping.
One of the biggest causes of warping is drafts, or cold surroundings, so look towards correcting those problems on top of using a raft.