Over time, your 3D printer bed can start to warp and bend, resulting in a product that doesn’t work in your favour. A warped 3D printer bed is something that can cause issues and decrease print quality so I decided to look around at the best solutions and put them together in this post.
So how do you fixed a warped 3D printer bed? To fix a warped 3D printer bed you can add an additional glass bed surface on top, add layers of tape or other materials to flatten bed levels, tighten and loosen levelling knobs to even out your printer’s surface, use an automated levelling system, or sand down your printer’s bed.
These are the basic fixes but there is more detail within these that you should know before you make a decision on which method you’ll use to fix your warped bed. Keep on reading to find out how you should get it done and some answers as to why it happens in the first place.
Pro Tip: If you want a great 3D printer with a good glass bed, I’d recommend the Creality Ender 3 V2 (Amazon). It’s a great choice that is loved by many users. You can also get it cheaper from BangGood, but usually with a slightly longer delivery!
Methods to Fix Your Warped Print Bed Issue
Use an Additional Surface on Your Printer
There are a few options you can take when fixing the issue of a warped bed. One of them is using an additional surface on top of your current bed. A good material to go with that works for many people is a glass build surface.
What you can actually do, especially if you have a smaller build plate is pick up some mirrored glass tiles from a hardware store, and it won’t cost you much either.
This isn’t the usual fix that people would’ve thought of but it has definitely worked for some 3D printer users out there.
You can also go with PEI or similar types of build mats that are quite thin so you won’t lose much of your build height. A great product that has raving reviews on Amazon is the Gizmo Dork PEI Sheet.
Not only is it made in the USA, it has a very quick install process with bubble-free application. It’s a perfect build surface to reuse for a countless amount of prints and it doesn’t need those additional adhesives like tape or glue!
After you let the PEI sheet cool, parts are easy to remove and a quick cleaning with isopropyl alcohol works great.
Using a thick surface on top of your current bed surface will take away from your already limited height to build with so it’s not an ideal choice.
You’ll find it impossible to precisely calibrate your print bed if your heated bed underneath is uneven enough. For example, if the four corners of your heated bed is higher than the sides it is a clear issue.
Some people have flattened the corners of their heated bed by using cable ties to pull them down. It’s not the best solution but it will give you better results than not doing anything.
Level Your Bed Then Use an Automatic Levelling System
Some bigger instances of warping can be solved by levelling the bed as best as you can, then using an automatic levelling system which incorporates the levels it measured into it’s movements.
The best choice for an automatic levelling system is hands-down, the BL-Touch (Amazon) which works extremely well to balance out any imperfections and uneven levels on your printer bed.
The video below shows the magic of the BL-Touch and it’s ability to compensate for an uneven bed using measurements and a proximity sensor so it can constantly adjust the Z-rod.
So basically if the measurement in one corner was 0.15mm below another corner, then your print head will be adjusted by 0.15mm to match the proper level.
These can be called bed auto-compensation which is a proximity probe which measures several points of your print bed.
Although it is a fix to keep on getting good prints, it’s more so a quick-fix rather than actually solving the initial problem. If your bed surface warps enough, your printer might start to reveal these issues after some time.
Even after you calibrate and level your bed it will still be uneven and warped so instead of auto-levelling your bed is to manually solve the issue. Here’s an article that details adding bed-levelling hardware to a Printrbot SimpleMetal. It isn’t too difficult to do and requires washers, screws and other tools.
Using Levelling Knobs to Flatten the Printer Bed
When you have a print bed that has one side higher than the other, there is something you can do if you have levelling knobs. You would want to tighten the knobs the knobs on the side which is higher up, then loosen the knobs on the side which is lower.
What this will do is rotate the entire bed clockwise slightly and evens out both sides of the bed while making it lower in the middle.
This method works because it decreases the effect of the warping where it is worse, to a good enough point where you can get decent prints around the entirety of the print bed.
Having a warped bed can cause issues with bed adhesion, even when the bed is levelled so this kind of adjustment works quite well, in addition to re-setting your Z-stop.
Balance The Bed Level With Other Materials
When your bed is at a stage where it’s warping enough to translate through to the surface above, you can actually add layers of tape to balance it out. A good recommendation here is to use foil tape because it has good heat transfer properties.
There is an issue that can arise when you add an extra surface to your printer, which is your surfaces heating up unevenly because the top layer won’t be touching the heated bed underneath.
This means where it touches will be warm and where it doesn’t touch will be cooler.
Some people have solved this issue by using a shim, otherwise known as a spacer, which simply is a thin, sometimes tapered or wedge material to fill small gaps or space between objects.
Their main functional uses are to support, adjust for a better fit, or provide a level surface. The good thing is you can pick them up pretty cheap.
If the bed warping is bad enough to transfer through to the mirror (or the mat) you may have to add a few layers of tape (preferably foil tape to better transfer heat).
The bow in the middle of the bed I use most frequently had enough of a bow that adding shims in the center of the bed was the only way to get it level and true without changing out the bed entirely.
Sand Your Printer Bed
The user in the video above went through a pretty long process of sanding the actual bed itself and getting it to a point where it’s much more levelled.
He went from having 0.3mm height differences (highest to lowest point) in the bed down to 0.03mm after all the sanding and what not.
It took him 8 hours which is a very long time for this process, but it worked very well in the end. What you could do to cut that time down is go to a machine shop that offer a blanchard grinding service.
They would be able to do a task like these in just minutes as they have some pretty useful equipment to handle such materials.
After the print bed is level, he got a lot more confidence in his ability to print larger objects for a longer print time so he benefited quite a bit from this process. It’s worth it in the long run to make sure your print bed is adequately levelled and not warped.
Another user done something very similar, outlined in this post and went from a 0.3mm deviation to a 0.08mm deviation which is a difference that your printer will appreciate, rewarding you with better prints.
Rather than the sanding, some people flip their bed surface, heat the bed then apply pressure on the deflected part.
Replace Your Print Bed Altogether
You’ve tried absolutely everything and prints are just failing left, right and centre. We both know it’s time for a replacement print bed altogether, because your print bed has just gone past the point of saving which isn’t too big of an issue.
As long as you can determine it, it’s a good step in the right direction to get this issue solved.
It’s not the ideal thing to have to do but in many cases it will save you the frustration and hassle of having to worry about things going sideways again. Here though, you want to make sure you get a print bed of quality for your 3D printer.
Treat your printer right and you’ll get great prints in return!
The best type that 3D printer users opt-in for is Borosilicate glass, which is the best type in terms of thermal conductivity because normal glass doesn’t react great to changes in heat.
If you’ve have normal glass, you may have experience the cracking and scratches from rapid cooling/heating, so this glass will prevent these irritating issues.
It’s a lot better than the stock glass you get with many 3D printers out there. Simply put, it’s a flat, heat-resistant plate which doesn’t warp with long term use.
Now what this product will do for you is ensure that heat is evenly distributed throughout your build surface, make parts easy to separate from the bed when cooling, be resistant to scratches and thermal shock, reduces warping in prints and much more.
Borosilicate glass for the following printers (Amazon links):
- Creality CR-10, CR-10S, CRX, Ultimaker S3, Tevo Tornado – 310 x 310 x 3mm (thickness)
- Creality Ender 3/X,Ender 3 Pro, Ender 5, CR- 20, CR-20 Pro, Geeetech A10 – 235 x 235 x 4mm
- Monoprice Select Mini V1, V2 – 130 x 160 x 3mm
- Prusa i3 MK2, MK3, Anet A8 – 220 x 220 x 4mm
- Monoprice Mini Delta – 120mm round x 3mm
The Ender 3 V2 (Amazon) is a 3D printer that comes with a carborundum glass bed which is mostly immune to warping, and has good adhesion for your 3D prints. You can also get the Ender 3 V2 from BangGood for cheaper!
Many people use tape and other things to get their prints to stick down. With this printer surface, a lot of that isn’t needed depending on what material you are printing with.
If you do have trouble with prints sticking down a bit of hairspray usually does the trick with a coat or two.
Simply order the glass surface and clip it into place. You can use the glass at a nice 60°C and you’ll need to adjust the Z-axis limit switch and up and down when installing.
Even if you don’t require a replacement you can use it as a plate switch in between finished prints to reduce your idle time.
How Do I Know if my 3D Print Bed is Warped?
Warping on a print surface for the most part, isn’t very obvious but when it’s measured correctly it will show the significant imbalance that it has.
When you think about your usual layer height of a print, if your bed is warped in comparison to that layer height, it can easily negatively effect your print, and in many cases stop it from sticking down properly.
Warping usually has a height difference of 0.1mm up to 0.5mm which, if looking at it in layer height amounts to 5 layers of a print. Once you identify this you’ll know where you stand.
To check if your bed is warped you can use a strategy of inputting G-Code to instruct your printer to check each point of your print bed in a visual interface. You can find that G-Code script here.
It’s displayed clearly in the video above around 40 seconds in. Once you incorporate this printer bed inspector utility, you can hit a ‘measure every’ button to automatically measure several points on your printer and you can even adjust the spacing.
Once you’ve followed through with the solutions, you should be back up and running again with some amazing prints that you can be proud of. Skip out on the frustrations and not knowing how your prints will turn out.
The difference between a successful 3D printer user and an average one are these small types of fixes that build up to make a consistently high producing machine.