Sticky Tenacious Build Plate Sauce
I have been “learning” the art of 3D printing for a while now. I have written a few books on the subject. During this time, the one thing has ended up becoming a thorn in my and many other 3D printing user’s sides is “build plate adhesion” or lack of it.
You often hear from people who say they never have any issues and I applaud their cunning and inventiveness. But at the same time, these stories are few and far between. They might have found a great way to keep PLA on the straight and narrow, but does ABS behave the same way?
How many times have you been well into a print only to have it fail? How many times have you walked in to see your printer nozzle performing the “Waltz” with your now “mobile” creation? You look on in disbelief as it slips and slides across the build plate whilst caught in a passionate kiss with the hot end? Or worse still! Getting to the end of a print and seeing the object starting to lift and warp?
We’ve all been there. We’ve all had to admit defeat! Back to the drawing board to think about how to stop this total waste of plastic from happening again.
There are some different ways to stop this, using a glue stick, ABS slurry or purchasing something like “BuildTak” and “FlexPlate” to place over the original build plate. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was something else that was easy to apply and didn’t have the characteristics that required you to do it again before every print?
I was looking for something that worked for PLA, ABS, TPU, and many of the other filaments that you see available today.
Something that only takes a couple of minutes to apply and a few more to remove. A procedure that works across multiple prints and multiple filaments.
I started looking at many different adhesives and potions, but many were not that safe to use. Some gave off a nasty smell. Whilst others would not break free from the print bed without dynamite. On one occasion I had to throw the build plate out because of a stuck print that refused to budge. I bent the build plate to dislodge the print.
Cleaning was another issue that needed careful consideration. There’s no point coming up with a substance that did the job, but to clean it, you had to get your family out of the house. Call and tell the authorities to place the emergency services on standby whilst you got to grips with the monster you had created! The substance had to keep the part stuck down but had to come off within 5 minutes when required to do so.
One thing it had to do was work across the many different types of filament. I wanted it to work with all the different types of filament that we now have on offer. ABS is perhaps the tricky one here because of the heat required for the build plate. Any substance is going to need to be special to deal with temperatures from 90C to 140C possibly more for Nylon and for extended periods possibly hours.
My checklist looked something like the following:
Easy to use and apply.
Easy to clean of and reapply.
Sticks parts to the print bed without welding them to it.
Helps to stop warping and lifting.
One application works across multiple print jobs.
Reasonably priced and lasts for between 50 and 100 prints – possibly longer.
Must work with most filaments available today.
After a lot of testing and calibrating the different recipes, I have finally come up with a tested substance that fills all the above criteria. It’s taken me over five months’ multiple rolls and different types of filament and the need for an easy to remember name. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…
“Sticky Tenacious Build Plate Sauce”
It’s four ingredients are all natural and contain no toxic chemicals. It can be cleaned with a solution of equal parts “nail varnish remover” and “white vinegar” and comes with its own bottle and applicator for ease of use. You also get the foam applicator to use when applying it.
Whilst I was testing, I used a small paintbrush, but I started to see lines in the finished object where the first layer was put down. I got around this by using a 2-inch foam brush/applicator which lays the adhesive very flatly and evenly across the build plate with the minimum of marks. This is also included in the price.
I have tested this adhesive with glass and the standard aluminium build plate, and it works the same no matter what you are using. I have tested with a heated bed and without. This adhesive does offer non-heated beds more grip. Cleaning is easy and only needs equal parts of “nail varnish remover” and “white vinegar” mixed together then place one piece of kitchen towel over the area you are cleaning (I would suggest placing some kitchen towel under whatever you are cleaving too). Then pour the solution over the paper towel on top. Make sure you cover the area you want to clean. Leave it for 5 to 7 minutes then when the glue goes soft use a scraper to scrape off the softened glue.
One application (two coats) will provide enough adhesive potential for 5 to 10 prints and works very well with PLA. If you cover the whole bed you can obtain more prints per application by moving the object to different areas when slicing in your favourite slicer application. That way you can use the full potential area of the bed before cleaning and reapplying.
ABS and Nylon prints very well using this adhesive, but because of the heat the longevity of the adhesive is lowered slightly. Expect four to five prints per application unless you apply four coats then you will get nearer ten or more prints per application.
During one of the tests I conducted, I gave my aluminium build plate four coats of Tenacious sauce and was able to print continuously and in the same position – ten times.
Ultimately, it is dependent on the build plate temperatures you use, but by using Sticky Tenacious Build Plate Sauce you are giving your prints the absolute best chance of survival and growing to be magnificent colourful classics. Warping and lifting are almost eliminated because of its use when compared to other build plate adhesion techniques. I feel this gives an ABS print a better chance of not warping. In my tests using Tenacious sauce none of the prints I did, exhibited any form of warping.
How Sticky Tenacious Build Plate Sauce works.
What this adhesive does is it produces a thin film between the printed object and the heated build plate. This film has a slightly rubberised feeling when you run your finger lightly over the area that’s been treated. This allows the molten plastic to sink in very slightly, but without actually sticking to it. Often, when a part has finished printing and as the build plate cools down a slight snapping or popping sound can be heard as the print is released. Usually, though you can pry the printed part off the hot print bed with just a gentle lifting action of your fingers.
Once you have applied a coat of Tenacious sauce and it’s dried you can then print without worrying if it’s going to stick.
For those without a heated build plate, but still looking for some extra adhesion for the objects. Sticky Tenacious Build Plate Sauce is ideal for you too. Offering nearly the same benefits and those with a heated plate. You apply it and either wait for it to dry naturally or use a hair dryer to get rid of the moisture a little quicker.
Prerequisites to get the best out of Sticky Tenacious Build Plate Sauce.
The only real thing that you have to have to ensure a great print is to have a level bed and to know that your first layer is calibrated so that the melted plastic is pushed slightly into the top film of the adhesive. If you have a calibrated bed set at the correct height, I guarantee you will have many successful stress-free prints.
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