Hello Machine Bros!
Today we are bringing you the importance of the first layer in 3D Printing!
Have you ever heard someone say that the most important thing in a building is its foundation? There are many makers who believe that the same thing happens in 3D printing, that the first layer that is printed is of utmost importance, which will depend largely on whether the 3D printing is successful or not.
If you want to understand why many makers think like this, I invite you to continue reading, we will talk about this and we will even give you some tips to get a very good first layer.
Why the First Layer is Important in 3D Printing?
The subsequent layers are 3D printed on the first layer, that is why if the first layer looks bad, there is a great probability that the 3D print will go wrong.
If the first layer is very high off the bed, the most likely result is that the 3D print will end up taking off from the bed or suffering from warping (if this happens to you, I recommend you check our Tips to prevent warping and cracking article).
Now, if the first layer is too close to the bed it can cause extrusion problems, it will also generate a first layer that is dimensionally larger in the “X” and “Y” axes than the rest of the layers, this because this first layer would be more “flattened” than the rest.
In addition, a first layer very close to the bed would generate that the piece adheres more than normal to the bed, this increases the difficulty when taking off the 3D print from the bed, since we could break the 3D print or even the glass.
Aspects to Consider Before 3D Printing the First Layer
3D Printing Filament
Depending on the 3D printing filament, we configure the temperature of the bed and decide whether or not to use aids that improve the adhesion of the filament to the bed (we discussed this aids in Tips to prevent warping and cracking).
Dimensions of the 3D Print
Depending on the dimensions of the 3D print, we decide whether to use tools that improve the adhesion of the piece to the bed.
In general, if a piece is very large, it is more prone to warping and/or detaching from the bed.
This also happens if the piece has sharp corners, it is more difficult for a piece with rounded contour to detach from the bed.
Cleaning of the Printing Bed
In order for the first layer to adhere properly to the bed surface, it is important that the bed is clean, many makers often clean their print beds with isopropyl or ethyl alcohol.
3D Printer Leveling and Calibration
For the first layer to look good, it is necessary to have the Z-axis, the bed and the X-axis movement calibrated and leveled.
Later in the article we explain how to do this.
Layer Height of the First Layer
The height of the first layer can be different from the rest of the 3D print, this can be configured in the slicer.
Later in the article we will also explain how to do this.
Remember that it is necessary to keep the layer fan off during the printing of the first layer, in order that the first layer adheres well to the bed.
After the end of the first layer, we can turn on the layer fan.
This is configured in the slicer.
First Layer Extrusion Width
In some slicers you are also allowed to configure the extrusion width that the first layer will have, normally when using this function what you want is to increase the extrusion width of the first layer to help with the adhesion of the first layer to the heatbed.
In general, if you decide to use this option, parameters that range from 100% to 200% of the extrusion width that the rest of the 3D print will have are used.
First Layer Print Speed
In the slicer we can also configure the first layer to 3D print at a slower speed than the rest of the 3D model will print.
A good starting point is to set the printing speed of the first layer to between 30% and 60% of the speed that the rest of the printing will have.
Calibrating the 3D Printer
Regarding calibrating the physical part of the printer, there are 3 things that we must adjust:
Leveling the Movement of the X-Axis of a 3D Printer
Below you will find the video of leveling the movement of the X axis (Remember to activate the subtitles):
Adjusting the Z-axis of a 3D Printer
Below you will find the video of how to adjust the Z-axis (Remember to activate the subtitles):
Leveling of the Printing Bed
Below you will find the video of the leveling of the printing bed (Remember to activate the subtitles):
Note: There are currently printers that come with bed leveling sensors, which allow for better precision in the first layer printing.
They also sell these sensors as accessories to adapt them to 3D printers that are not included by factory.
Calibrating the 3D Printer (Software)
With most slicers we will be able to specifically configure the layer height that the first printing layer will have.
For example, if the rest of the layers will have a layer height of 0.3mm, we could configure in the slicer that the first layer prints at 66%, which would give us the first layer at a height of 0.2mm.
Now, assuming that the rest of the 3D print we want to print at 0.1mm, but we consider that this layer height is very low for the first layer, we could configure in the slicer that the first layer prints at 200%, which it would give us a layer height for the first layer of 0.2mm.
Common Problems of the First Layer and Their Solutions
Very High or Very Low Height of the First Layer
- Verify that the bed and Z-axis are properly leveled and calibrated, and the X-axis movement is leveled.
- Set the height of the first layer in the slicer, this one can be different from the rest of the layers.
Below you will find the video of the first printing layer (Click on CC to activate the subtitles):
|NOTE: It is recommended not to exceed a layer height greater than 80% of the nozzle diameter. Example, for a 0.4mm diameter nozzle, do not exceed a layer height of 0.32mm.|
Clogged Extruder of the 3D Printer
1. Check that the filament is not tangled in the spool.
2. Verify that you set the extruder temperature properly
3. Check that the nozzle is not blocked (this could be done with needles that are sold for this purpose – Check them out on Amazon)
4. Checks the integrity of the extruder, the PTFE tube and the mechanism that pushes the filament towards the extruder (gears, rollers, etc.)
Poor Adhesion of the First Layer
In the following article we talk about how to improve the adhesion of the filament to the printing bed, we also talk about the Skirt, Brim and Raft, which are tools provided by the slicer to improve the adhesion of the piece to the bed: Tips to prevent the warping and cracking.
Conclusions About the First Layer in 3D Printing
We can affirm with certainty that a good first layer is of utmost importance, it will largely depend on whether the 3D print comes out as expected, therefore, we must make sure and strive to obtain a good first layer.
With the tips we gave in this article you should already be able to have a decent enough first layer, if you have any questions or suggestions do not hesitate to comment.
See you soon Machine Bros!
[…] In the following article we explain how a good first layer should look and how to obtain it “The importance of the first layer in 3D printing“. […]