100% Warp-Free MakerBot 3D Printing

Picture of 100% Warp-Free MakerBot 3D Printing
I love MakerBot and I love Bre, and I think he and his team have done an amazing service to the world.

Recently, I purchased five MakerBots (actually Thing-O-Matics, factory-assembled and tested), which was one for each our current TechShop locations (Menlo Park CA, Raleigh Durham NC, San Francisco CA, San Jose CA, and Detroit MI).  I also picked up a Replicator for myself.  Research, you know.  ;)

After becoming very frustrated with ABS plastic objects warping when the bottom corners would pull loose from the build platform, I started searching for a new solution.  No matter what I tried, including using raft versus no raft, increasing the temperature of the HBP (heated build platform), cleaning the Kapton tape with acetone, putting shields around the openings in the MakerBot's housing to keep the heat in, increasing and decreasing the nozzle temperature, nothing would prevent the object or even the raft from popping loose and lifting up on the corners.  This happened with all six of the MakerBot variants that I had access to, including Replicator.

Previous solutions that have been created by others and adopted as supposed solutions included the HBP (heated build platform) which comes standard on all late-model Thing-O-Matics and Replicators, Kapton tape on the build platform, using a glass sheet, creating a vacuum table, using painters tape and other tapes, and countless other ideas.  But none of these seem to work.

So I thought of my own solution.

My solution has proven to be cheap, fast, simple, and 100% dependable.

Would you like to know what it is?  Then read on to the next step!

(I'll try to take better pictures the next time I print a nice large object.  Hopefully you can see enough from these photos to be able to follow these steps.)
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gboss112 days ago

I was printing straight on the aluminium bed but I actually find that the slurry comes loose really easily. See here that the print is still warping. Perhaps it IS better to print on the tape because the slurry sticks to it? Will try asap.

gboss112 days ago

This is awesome. I am printing for the first time using the ABS slurry right now. I'm making a very flat print that covers nearly the whole bed so this seems to be the only solution to prevent the warping.

If anyone is experiencing warping with other kinds of plastics then this is a good link to make your other slurries. Or if you want to use slurry as glue to glue your prints.

thezerocool5 months ago

would a PLA slurry work in the same way?

TechShopJim (author)  thezerocool4 months ago

PLA will not dissolve in acetone, so no this would not work.

I have not been able to find any solvent that could be used, except some nasty acids...but those wouldn't dry and leave a thin coating of PLA...they would just decompose the PLA.

I am actively searching for a suitable solvent and will let you know if I find anything.
Qcks TechShopJim2 months ago

A thought that might ork: have you tried dilute pineapple juice for PLA?

Polylactic acid can be broken down by bromelian, which is present in pineapples, and since y'all are just using the monomer of the plastics to temporarily bind to the kapton tape layer, disolving some scrap into some pineapple juice might allow you to use it in a similar fashion to the ABC in acetone.
Short of that, could apply a small amount of pineapple juice to the first layer of the project and then spray a mist of water and sodium bicarbonate to inactivate the bromelian. It's only active in acidic environments.

TechShopJim (author)  Qcks2 months ago

Hi Qcks...

That's a very interesting idea! I am trying it now since I just happened to have a nearly full jar of bromelian in the kitchen! I feed it to my family sometimes.

Thanks! I'll post the results.

smairena made it!2 months ago

I can admit: I was highly sceptical, as I had tried just about everything else. But it sure does work.

Make sure that your mixing vessel won't dissolve with acetone. :)
I went with a high density polyethylene (HDPE) container with a tight lid just to be very safe.

TechShopJim (author)  smairena2 months ago
Glad you found it useful!
qutech3 months ago

Hi, I've been experimenting with your solution on a makerbot replicator 2x. It seems to work fine for small prints but when I'm doing large full plate prints of several hours they invariably peel up at the corners or come loose in the centre resulting in a twisted base on the model? Possible issues: slightly warped build plate? Nozzle height setting- what do you recommend? Temperature of build plate - I've tried dropping it to 95 but not making much difference? Kapton tape - how smooth does it have to be, it is impossible to put it on without overlaps? I'd appreciate your advice. Thanks

CurtWG3 months ago

I have found so far that a amonia based window clean will loosen the print from the slury on a glass plate. I'm using the borosilicate plates on my Afinia without any tape applied so far so good.


wzhang44 months ago

I have to say WOW THIS WORKS PERFECT!! I got my Makerbot 2X in February and have been operating for over 160 hours. 70% of my prints have corner warping problems and I tried almost every methods on internet and they won't solve it. Before this ABS slurry method I found out Zap-a-Gap Glue actually works pretty good, but it 100% destroys kapton tape and the smell of burning Zap-a-Gap is just unbearable. I bought acetone from hardware store(95%-100% concentration) and made my own slurry, the ratio is about 15%-20% ABS with 85%-80% acetone. I usually pre heat the bed and nozzle and put on normal coat on the kapton tape right after everything is preheated and start print ASAP after putting on ABS slurry. It won't actually tear up the kapton tape if you be careful when taking your prints off the bed, at least my kapton tape has gone through 2-3 big prints and still works fine.

DoctorWoo4 months ago

Just got done testing this...and if I'm ever in California, I may have to kiss you!!! I've been struglling with corner curling, and this stopped it dead in its tracks! Thanks for sharing this!

Scurge5 months ago

I made the mistake of applying a thin fairly uniform coat (disregarding the instructions above.... :/) over the print area. When the OP says it will "stick like a barnacle" he is not kidding. It was so dadgum stuck I tore up the kapton tape getting the piece off. Not only is that kapton tape kinda expensive, its a pain to stick down bubble free. (Has anyone tried the soapy water method to apply the kapton tape like when applying window tint?) My ABS juice was much thinner than his as well. I'm going to try a new method next of outlining the print area with a Q-Tip thick line so it just sticks like that around the edges, possibly even just the corner areas prone to curling. I'll post the results.

DoctorWoo Scurge4 months ago

By now, you probably already found a solution, but just in case!
Try using a glass plate on the heatbed. I don't know for sure, but I assume you can adjust the Replicator (assuming that's what you have) to use a glass plate. That's I'm using, along with this slurry, and it works like a charm!
Also, for application: someone else posted it that you can use a nail polish bottle brush for this. I have one, and the bottle has straight acetone to keep the brush from become solid ABS.

wzhang44 months ago

Hi there!

I am wondering whether you could provide an amazon link to the acetone that you are using?

TechShopJim (author)  wzhang44 months ago

Acetone is pretty much a commodity product. You can purchase it at any hardware store, which is where I bought it (at Home Depot or Lowe's here in the US). I just searched for "acetone" on Amazon and there are lots of results...just try to get one that says 100% acetone, and I would avoid nail polish removers because sometimes they have fragrance, moisturizers and even water in them.

Just spray the bottom of the object with canned air upside down.. the cold makes it very easy to remove if its sticking too well.... But i am no expert... 3 prints under my belt so far.. I may end up trying this if warping becomes a problem. I have also heard that the nontoxic stick of glue works wonders too.. have not tried it yet.

I know there is a cool time that you can set between layers... perhaps there maybe a way to cool off the first 4 layers first so that the base is hardened.. perhaps this is occurring because the bottom layers are not dried yet.

jzaher5 months ago

So, how many parts of acetone vs. ABS in weight or volume do I have to mix?

TechShopJim (author)  jzaher5 months ago

Hi JZaher...

I would say a ratio equal to about a quarter cup of acetone to about a tablespoon of solid ABS.

You can go a little thinner or a little thicker depending on how it works for you.

It really isn't critical, though.

I mix my slurry up in a little polypropylene squirt bottle. Before I print, I shake up the bottle and squirt a little on the bed, then wipe it around with a paper towel.

Good luck!
fkeller7 months ago
I killed the Kapton tape on my heated platform... :-(
Can I use your ABS-"Soup" directly on the aluminum of the platform, or do I NEED a tape ?

cheers, Flex
TechShopJim (author)  fkeller5 months ago

Hi fkeller...

That might work OK. I use Kapton myself, but you know, the Kapon lifts up sometimes.

I think the ultimate would be either glass or polished aluminum with ABS slurry.

Maybe because of your question, I will abandon Kapton tape because of how it separates from the aluminum bed sometimes.

TechShopJim (author)  fkeller6 months ago

I would use tape. You can use blue painters tape coated with ABS slurry, but it might pull loose from the bed. Kapton adhesive is much stronger,
wveaae6 months ago

i was having a really hard time with my prints sticking after using this method ive had no problems what so ever. thanks

stelianos076 months ago

tried this a couple times. The first time I applied the slurry while the bed was hot (110C-hot enough to see and hear the acetone sizzle) and got a pretty good result, although still noticed a tad of very minor warping. The second time bed was not hot. This print had a major warp (along 30% of the length). They weren't the same piece being printed but I'm wondering if the build plate temperature at the time of applying the slurry has an effect on its effectiveness. Anyone have insight on this?

zkus stelianos076 months ago

I actually notice better results with a hot plate too. Same as Jim, i use a pretty low concentration abs slurry (probably something like 30% by volume). The bubbly matrix it leaves behind seems to hold better (anecdotal) than the smooth layer left when cold.

I also suggest getting a set of small nail polish jars (something like these) to keep different color slurries, for when you dont want the slight discoloration a mismatch leaves behind on the bottom layer. Plus it has a nice applicator brush.

And, as Jim said, beware of fumes. Generally the small quantities you use here aren't too much to worry about, but not only is the vapor flammable, its somewhat toxic. I've gotten very sick from using a vapor bath without proper ventilation.

TechShopJim (author)  stelianos076 months ago

Hi stelianos07...

I have not found it to make any difference whether I apply the slurry to the bed when it is hot or cold. Usually I do hot because I'm printing many iterations of an invention or item as I tweak it in Autodesk Inventor between revs.

If you apply the acetone slurry to the bed when it is hot, BE SURE to do it in a well-ventilated area. The fumes build up quickly, and if there is a spark from a fan motor or other source, it could ignite the fumes explosively. When I worked on Mythbusters as the Science Advisor for season 3, I was in charge of getting fuel-air mixtures just right for explosions. Here's one of my test explosions with gasoline and air for the Exploding Cell Phone in the Gas Station story: It is remarkable how explosive just a little hydrocarbon vapor can be!

My slurry is VERY thin...mostly acetone and very little ABS. I generally squirt a little on a paper towel and wipe it quickly on the bed right on the Kapton tape.

Good luck!
TechShopJim (author) 6 months ago

Hi sdewindt...

Are your scraps ABS or PLA? Acetone will only dissolve ABS, and will not touch PLA. In fact, there are no hydrocarbon solvents that dissolve have to use nasty organic solvents and acids for PLA.

Are you SURE you are using acetone, and not nail polish remover with water in it, or any other kind of solvent?

Jim, yes I bought acetone for sure but now that I rechecked the two different filaments, I strongly suspect I am using PLA! Damn, stupid me. I am new to this so....still have to learn. Thanks. Will let you know if this works.
yeah PLA does not dissolve in acetone.

you can use ABS Juice ( thats what i call it ) when using PLA and you can also use Hair spray but not all hair sprays work and some PLA wont stick to hair spray as I have found out. I am using "Tresemme salon finish extra hold" here in the UK but in the US in walmart there is one in a pink/purple can which works well but for the life of me I cant remember what it is.
kytzune n1cod3mus6 months ago
By chance is it this?
n1cod3mus kytzune6 months ago
n1cod3mus kytzune6 months ago
No but I did remember what it was called, Aqua net
sdewindt sdewindt6 months ago
My acetone mix does not work and it's frustrating to see all my prints fail as they move after 10-15 minutes of printing. Will try the hair spray.
n1cod3mus6 months ago
I have a replicator clone from china, works exactly the same.

I have done a mod on mine which a few others have done, I put a piece of glass on the bed and held it with metal clips. using ABS juice as above or some hair sprays you can get it to stick to the plate.

why would you do this? well glass will not warp under low heat unlike the plate that comes with the replicators. and you end up with a smooth surface. and... you end up with a smooth finish.

if you are printing on glass using ABS try the ABS juice but if that is problematic put kapton tape on the glass then use the juice, nice and level.
TechShopJim (author)  n1cod3mus6 months ago
Can you post a link to your Chinese machine? I'm curious.

n1cod3mus6 months ago
I have a replicator clone from china, works exactly the same.

I have done a mod on mine which a few others have done, I put a piece of glass on the bed and held it with metal clips. using ABS juice as above or some hair sprays you can get it to stick to the plate.

why would you do this? well glass will not warp under low heat unlike the plate that comes with the replicators. and you end up with a smooth surface. and... you end up with a smooth finish.

if you are printing on glass using ABS try the ABS juice but if that is problematic put kapton tape on the glass then use the juice, nice and level.
sdewindt6 months ago
Weird but true, my scraps don't dissolve! What did I do wrong???
cadmakers7 months ago

Do you guys have the heated bed turn on for this or you print it without heated bed when using the Acetone/abs glue ?
TechShopJim (author)  cadmakers7 months ago
I use the heated bed. It definitely helps the ABS part to stick. If the ABS is allowed to pull loose on the ends, then the warping will occur.
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