Stick That 3D Print!

Introduction: Stick That 3D Print!

About: I am a Bohmian Mechanics theorist, with theory variants, so I call it Phase Theory instead. It's easier to list what I don't like than what I do... like Reggae, though at times it does sound sweet! I'm a t...

This was so easy, I wasn't sure I should mention it. We all know about the 3M Blue Painter's tape; but, did you know that a tissue, with alcohol wiped over the surface, rub it in a little if a little wipe is not enough for you, and the surface of the tape becomes tacky to the touch. It works so well that I've practically almost broken the print bed trying to pry the pieces off. In fact, most of the time I have to pull up the tape, to get under the tape, so I have a place to jam my scraper/pry bar to get it off, it sticks better than the tape sticks to the bed. I admit I don't have a heated bed and have only done this with PLA; but, wonder if it will work for ABS too. After all, sticky is sticky, and the tack left after an alcohol wipe, or rub, is very noticeable to the touch. It will dry out after a while, and I'm using 91% Isopropyl, the cheap stuff, so apply just before the print, the warm plastic helps dry to tack. In fact a higher water content might keep it tackier longer. The alcohol seems to break it down, and the water keeps it moist. Mine stays tacky just long enough to get down the first layer. With a heated bed, I worry this might dry out too fast... higher water percentage maybe... 61% alcohol, the cheaper stuff?

I do have to tell you, if you don't use the alcohol, it won't work. I forgot the alcohol wipe one time and came back to a 2 or 3 layers of project and a large glob of plastic on the end of my extruder. Had to rewarm the nozzle before I could remove it. So, be warned, forget the alcohol, and no guarantees. But, a little goes a long way. In fact I keep examining my printer controls for ways to "not" make it stick so much.

What's it going to hurt? A sheet of tissue from the tissue box; or bathroom; and some alcohol in your medicine cabinet. Let me know how it did for ABS. I already *know* what it does for PLA. Crowbar anyone?



    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest
    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest

    5 Discussions

    Although I discovered this independently, I found a Ultimaker related site that recommended using alcohol on the tape. So, in fairness to the people at Ultimaker, and for those interested in improving on prints, the link below is a visual aide to improving various 3D printing problems with any machine, and the underlying causes and necessary changes to the print parameters to obtain better results. Enjoy!

    Since you asked the question, and I realized I didn't directly answer it, So far, it seems the alcohol doesn't affect the tape adhesion to the bed at all. As if the coating which gets tacky is also used, as painter tape, to protect the tape from absorbing the liquid in the paint. I suspect that as I continue, I may eventually get to where I wash the tape off completely, if the piece sticking to it doesn't cause the tape to get removed sooner when I remove the piece. Initially, before I found the 'Initial line layer width' setting, the pieces where stuck to the tape so hard that the "only" way to remove it was to pull up the piece tape and all, then remove the tape. I now no longer need to do that.

    No, the alcohol partially liquefies the surface material of 3M's blue painter tape and makes it super tacky, allowing your first print layer to stick to the tape on the table without applying anything to it other than alcohol. After you've done this a few times and most of the material that gets tacky has been washed off, the paper underneath is fibrous, and also makes a non-tacky but rough surface which also works well; like sanding the tape, as some have suggested... Give it a try. So far I've made 6 varying size pieces without replacing my tape, now that I've adjusted how the printer lays down the first layer so it doesn't stick so hard. It works too well. It may very well loosen the tape if you saturate it... don't do that if you want to make something.

    I'm now up to 12 parts on the same tape bed, when I use the same tissue I used before, the alcohol reliquifies the tacky material on the tissue, and it re-lays some of that onto the surface. Between that, and the fibrous material of the tape beneath the tacky surface I'm getting clean flat prints that now come off easily because I found the setting the makes the print adhere less. I have a PrintrBot Maker Edition and by lowering the 'Initial layer line width' to less than 100%, I use 55 when the tape is new, the piece is easier to remove. As I use up the tacky on the tape, I will raise it to 100, maybe a little less. So far, no lifting.