Glass is one of the most commonly used materials for manufacturing 3D printer build surfaces, primarily due to its smoothness, which makes cleaning the surface and separating plastic from it pretty unchallenging and improves the overall 3D printing experience.
On the other hand, the downside of glass is that it’s highly fragile, making it susceptible to problems like scratching, cracking, and breaking, especially in scenarios where things don’t go as intended and applying force to the build surface is required.
In today’s article, we will be examining a common issue where the 3D printed model ends up getting stuck to the glass surface during the printing process, essentially becoming impossible to remove without damaging the print or the build plate.
So, how to remove a 3D print that is stuck to a glass surface?
There are a few different methods you can use to remove a 3D printed model that is stuck to a glass surface, which we have listed below:
- Wait for the glass and the 3D printed model to cool down to room temperature and place them into the freezer after letting them for roughly 10 minutes at a time, which will eventually pop the model off the glass.
- Wait for the glass and the 3D printed model to cool down to room temperature, place no-leak ice packs or waterproof bags filled with ice around the model, and wait until the glass cools down to a point where it releases the 3D printed model.
- Wait for the glass and the 3D printed model to cool down to room temperature, and run the area where the model connects to the glass bed under cold water while avoiding getting the model wet as much as possible.
Moving forward, we will analyze the most effective methods for removing plastic stuck to a glass surface in better detail, find out the reasons behind why such an issue can occur, and discuss how we can prevent this problem from happening in future prints.
How to Remove a 3D Print That is Stuck to a Glass Surface?
We can all agree that a 3D print entirely getting stuck to a glass surface is a complete nightmare, especially if the model has printed successfully and you intend to get it off the surface without any damage.
Here are the methods we recommend using to remove a 3D print that is stuck to a glass surface without damaging either the model or the glass surface:
- Freezer Method – The freezer method involves putting the glass surface into the freezer for roughly 10 minutes, taking it out and attempting to remove the model from the glass, and repeating the process until the glass releases the plastic due to the contraction it undergoes. Considering that your bed can fit the freezer, this is the primary method we recommend using.
- Ice Pack Method – The ice pack method is an alternative to the freezer method, where you surround the model with ice by placing no-leak ice packs on top of the glass surface and around the 3D printed model. This method is more suitable in cases where you cannot fit the glass bed into the freezer and should technically allow you to obtain the same results, even if it takes longer.
- Cold Water Method – The cold water method involves running the glass bed under cold water for a while, which is the next best thing if you can’t utilize the freezer and don’t have access to any no-leak ice packs. While this method is inferior to the two above due to the risk of getting the model wet and cold water being much less effective than ice, it should allow you to separate the two without damage.
With all of these methods, it’s vital that you wait until both the glass surface and the model has cooled down to room temperature, as directly exposing them to very low temperatures while they are still hot will be damaging.
While there are also other methods you can use, such as scraping the model off with a plastic putty knife or applying solvents such as acetone or isopropyl alcohol, depending on the filament, these methods are more likely to cause damage to either the model or the glass surface.
Why Does a 3D Print Get Stuck to a Glass Print Surface?
Understanding what can make a 3D printed model get stuck to a glass print surface is a significant step toward not repeating the mistake that caused the issue to occur in the first place.
There are numerous reasons that can cause a 3D printed model to get stuck to a glass print surface, which we have listed below:
- The nozzle temperature is too high.
- The material inherently sticks very firmly to glass, such as in the case of PETG.
- The nozzle gets way too close to the glass, which could be due to factors like an improperly configured Z offset value or a bed that is not level.
- The 3D printer prints a first layer that is way too thick, which could be due to factors such as a very high first layer height or a very slow printing speed.
- The glass surface is scratched or damaged, allowing pieces of filament to seep through and stick very firmly.
Fortunately, it’s possible to avoid all of these culprits in most cases, and even when we can’t avoid them, there are other methods we can utilize to reduce the likelihood of a 3D print getting stuck to the glass surface.
How to Prevent a 3D Print from Getting Stuck to a Glass Surface?
Taking preventative measures to prevent the 3D print from getting stuck to a glass surface is, without a doubt, a much better strategy than having to remove the plastic from the surface after the fact that it’s stuck firmly.
Aside from correctly configuring your slicer settings and refraining from using materials that stick too firmly to glass, applying separating agents, such as Windex or hairspray, or covering the surface with materials such as painter’s tape or Kapton tape are great ways to prevent prints from sticking to the glass.
While not exactly a solution to prevent a 3D print from sticking to a glass surface, it’s still worth mentioning that sometimes it’s better to avoid glass surfaces altogether, such as when printing with PETG, which is notorious for sticking very firmly to glass surfaces.
Does PLA Stick to Glass Surfaces?
As the type of filament you use is a determining factor in whether the model will end up sticking to the glass surface or not, it’s vital to know whether your filament plays well with glass or not before starting the printing process.
Considering that the glass surface is clean and level and parameters such as the Z offset, the print speed, and the nozzle temperature are configured correctly, PLA will stick to glass surfaces without any issues, making glass a suitable surface for printing PLA filament.
As PLA won’t adhere to glass to the point where the two get stuck (like PETG does) to each other under standard conditions, you don’t have to worry about using a separating agent when printing PLA on a glass surface.
The model you’re printing sticking to the glass surface can definitely be a scary experience, as separating the plastic from the glass in such a scenario while keeping everything intact is a challenging process that requires a great deal of effort.
To quickly recap, we highly recommend going for methods that create a temperature difference between the glass and the model, such as placing the glass surface in the freezer, placing ice packs on it, or running it under cold water for a while, which will cause the glass to release the plastic.
Compared to methods involving physical force, such as scraping the plastic off, or where solvents are involved, such as applying acetone or isopropyl alcohol, the methods that create a temperature difference are less likely to cause damage to the glass surface or the model.
Mike started his 3D printing journey with the Anet A8 when it first came out back in 2017, and has been obsessed with 3D printers ever since. Nowadays, he primarily uses his Ender 3 to print functional parts that make his life more convenient whenever possible.