Why Are My 3D Prints Lifting Off the Bed? (How to Fix?)

It’s practically impossible never to face a problem during your 3D printing journey, as issues are bound to happen with many distinct components running a complex operation to make the magic of 3D printing happen and create the final product.

As a result, accepting that experiencing problems and solving them is a significant part of the 3D printing journey is the best way to move forward, especially considering that each issue you face will further your knowledge about the 3D printing process and bring you one step closer to being an expert.

In today’s article, we will be specifically analyzing the potential causes behind the common issue of the 3D printed model lifting off the bed during the printing process, which causes it to deform and weakens its connection with the build plate, adversely affecting the rest of the process as well.

So, what can cause your 3D prints to lift off the bed during the printing process?

Below are the most common reasons that can cause your 3D prints to lift off the print bed:

  • Low bed temperature
  • Too high initial layer print speed
  • Too much nozzle gap
  • Too much initial layer cooling
  • Dirty build surface
  • Filament incompatible with the build surface
  • Drafts and shifts in ambient temperature

In the upcoming sections, we will take a deeper look into the factors that can cause your 3D prints to lift off the print bed, find out the potential solutions to prevent this issue from happening again, discuss how to identify the problem as quickly as possible, and finally, go through the process of straightening out the models that have warped off the bed.

Why Are My 3D Prints Lifting Off the Bed?

As there are many distinct factors that can contribute to the issue of 3D prints lifting off the bed, it’s impossible to say what the exact culprit is in your case, which is why, in this section, we will be going through all of the potential culprits in detail.

Here are the common reasons behind the issue of your 3D prints lifting off the bed:

  • The bed temperature is too low. A low bed temperature will cause the plastic to undergo a sudden drop in temperature as it comes into contact with the build surface, creating a scenario where the thermal contraction becomes very severe, which lifts the print off the bed.
  • The initial layer print speed is too high. Printing the first layer too quickly will prevent it from forming strong bonds with the build surface, allowing weaker contractions to lift the print off the bed.
  • The nozzle gap is too much. When the gap between the nozzle and the build plate is larger than optimal, the filament will have issues adhering to the build plate strongly enough, which will cause it to lift off the bed as it cools down.
  • The initial layer cooling is too much. Cooling the initial layer down way too quickly will create a sudden temperature drop that will cause the plastic to contract too rapidly and solidify before it can adhere to the build plate, causing it to lift.
  • The build surface is dirty. A dirty build surface can prevent the plastic from sticking strongly enough, which will cause the model to lift off the bed due to the force of the contraction being more significant than the strength of adhesion.
  • The filament does not adhere to the build surface. It’s possible for the filament and the build surface to naturally not stick firmly to each other, which will cause the model to lift off the bed as soon as it cools down.
  • There are drafts and shifts in the ambient temperature. Drafts and changes in ambient temperature will throw off the temperature balance of the plastic and can cause it to cool down quicker than intended, which once again results in the print lifting off the bed.

How to Prevent the Issue of 3D Prints Lifting Off the Bed?

Due to the many potential factors that can play a role in the issue of 3D prints lifting off the bed, the solution process is far from straightforward unless you can already tell which exact factor has been causing the problem in your case.

Below are the solutions we recommend applying to prevent the issue of your 3D prints lifting off the bed:

  • Increase the bed temperature. While our primary recommendation is to use the manufacturer’s bed temperature requirement, if you don’t have access to such a value, the next best thing is to increase the bed temperature in 5-degree increments and test.
  • Reduce the initial layer print speed. Since this value will vary based on the filament you’re using, we recommend using a first layer speed between 30% to 35% of the standard layer speed value. Adjust the nozzle temperature accordingly to be suitable for the print speed.
  • Correct the levelness of the bed. For best results, we highly recommend picking up an automatic bed leveling sensor, such as the BLTouch, or a feeler gauge if you prefer to level manually, which will make things a lot more consistent and precise.
  • Correct the Z-offset value. The Z-offset value should always bring the nozzle to a point where the gap between the build surface and the nozzle is as thick as a piece of paper.
  • Decrease the initial layer cooling fan speed. We recommend starting with completely disabling the cooling fan during the printing of the first layer or using a low value (5-10%) to ensure that the initial layer has enough time to adhere.
  • Clean the build surface thoroughly. You can wipe the bed with a microfiber cloth and a cleaning agent suitable for your build surface (such as IPA for glass) to clean it. Refrain from touching the build surface with your bare hands after cleaning.
  • Switch to a suitable build surface. Using a build surface that the plastic naturally sticks well (such as PETG on PEI) is the best way to naturally increase adhesion strength and prevent the model from lifting off the bed.
  • Use an enclosure. Using an enclosure will protect your prints from drafts and changes in ambient temperature, creating an environment that is not affected by external factors.
  • Utilize a raft or a brim. A raft or a brim can be helpful to hold the corners of the print down in the case that the force of contraction pulls them up and prevent the issue of your print lifting off the bed from occurring.
  • Apply adhesives to the build surface. Applying an adhesive, such as a glue stick or hair spray, can increase the adhesion strength between the plastic and the build surface and prevent the contraction from lifting the model.

How to Identify the Issue of 3D Prints Lifting Off the Bed?

Identifying the problem is the first step in taking the appropriate measures to fix it, especially considering that there are many issues in 3D printing that can show similar signs to each other at first look but require entirely different solutions.

The primary sign of the issue of your 3D prints lifting off the bed will be the curling of the corners of the first layer, which are the points where the print will start losing contact with the build surface as they start facing upwards.

As the lifting starts at the first layer, all the subsequent layers will most likely be affected by this issue, based on the severity of the warp, since the actual dimensions and position of the model won’t be equal to the calculated values that the 3D printer uses.

How to Straighten Warped 3D Printed Models?

While the 3D printed model lifting off the bed, also known as warping, is pretty problematic for the quality of the final product, in some cases, it can be possible to straighten the model out and bring it to a usable form instead of tossing it away and re-printing.

To straighten your warped 3D printed models, you can dip the warped area into a cup of water that is hot enough to get the plastic to soften, correct the warped area while the plastic is soft, and then dip the repaired area into cold water to allow the plastic to solidify again.

Even though it’s not the perfect solution, it should allow you to fix slight warps that are preventing the model from being usable, such as when the part of your model warps in a way that prevents it from fitting into a space.

Wrapping Up

While the problem of 3D prints lifting off the bed is one of the most common problems in the 3D printing space, it’s also one of the more complex ones to solve due to the many different factors that can cause it. 

To quickly recap, the issue of your 3D print lifting off the bed comes down primarily to incorrectly set print settings, especially for the initial layer, with problems such as a dirty build surface, incompatibility between the build surface and the filament, and external factors, such as drafts and ambient temperature shifts also playing a role.

While the list of potential culprits is long, there isn’t a lot of technical complexity involved in the process of fixing the problem, with all of the solutions being pretty straightforward tasks that you most likely have gone through before.

Happy printing!