Whether you have automatic bed leveling or you still manually level it your printer, the first layer is critical to the success of your print. The first layer of every print should overlooked to ensure it all goes down smoothly with no parts lifting or getting caught in the nozzle and that it is well adhered to the bed.
To ensure the reliability and success rate of the first layer, here are some tips we recommend:
Layer height is crucial as either being too high or too low can have bad repercussions on the print and the printer. Always start with a level bed before any print. If you’re unsure, re-level it, as it will save a lot of pain trying to diagnose and solve issues that aren’t actually there. Usually this process will get your nozzle the ideal distance away from the bed to begin with but if it isn’t you’re going to have to adjust that. With mesh-bed leveling, its as simple as adjusting the live-z but if you have to manually adjust it it’s a little trickier. Start in one corner and work your way around the bed, slowly adjusting one at a time until the layers look good, similar to the picture below. This is the ideal distance between the nozzle and the bed and will provide the best surface finish on the underside of the print.
Even if you have you’re layer height calibrated perfectly, if you’re bed is greasy and dirty, there is no chance that filament is going to stick to it. The grease from your hands is always going to somehow end up of your bed, if its from removing a print to moving the printer, its going to happen. It’s best to get in the practice of cleaning the bed after every print or two to remove any residue plastic, grease or dust left from previous prints. Isopropyl alcohol is the best solution for this and does an excellent job of cleaning the print surface. You’ll find that this is the most common issues once you’ve calibrated the bed height and a simple spray of alcohol is all you need.
The speed the printer lays down the first layer also impacts the quality, too fast and it can lift a previous layer up. It’s always better to go slow than faster. At Phaser3D all our first layers are done at 20% the normal speed. This helps get a smooth shiny finish as well. Whilst it might add 10-15% to the print time, the success rate of first layers will be much greater.
The material you print with also can effect how well a print sticks to the bed and the finish it produces. Materials like PLA and PETG are usually fine to print normally without any modification however materials like ABS and Nylon benefit from brims and rafts to help the print stick. Extra adhesives can also assist with getting these materials to stick but be prepared to potentially ruin your bed.