The first layer of the print plays a vital role in determining whether the printing process will be a success or not, as the foundation of the model needs to be flawless for the 3D printer to be able to build upon this foundation as optimally as possible and manufacture the model without issues.
On the other hand, the first layer is one of the trickiest things to get right in 3D printing as it’s in direct contact with the build surface, with issues related to bed adhesion being the primary cause behind the first layers printing incorrectly.
As PETG is a filament that is especially notorious for bed adhesion issues, today, we will analyze one of the most common fixes to the bed adhesion problem for printing PETG; applying hairspray to the build surface before the printing process.
So, should you apply hairspray to the surface for printing PETG?
The necessity of applying hairspray to the surface for printing PETG primarily depends on the print surface you’re using since how firmly PETG sticks to the surface shows a great deal of difference between distinct surfaces.
Applying hairspray to surfaces that PETG will stick very firmly to, such as glass, is often necessary to ensure that the plastic and the glass won’t get stuck together to the point where it’s impossible to remove the plastic from the glass without damaging either.
Next up, we will take a more detailed look into whether it’s a good idea to apply hairspray to the build surface for printing PETG or not, discuss the effects of using hairspray on the surface, and go through some hairspray alternatives that fulfill the same purpose.
Should You Apply Hairspray to the Surface for Printing PETG?
Applying hairspray to your 3D printer’s build surface is a recommendation you will often hear in various 3D printing communities when issues related to bed adhesion are the topic, but as with most things in 3D printing, you should decide on a case-by-case basis depending on the factors.
We primarily recommend applying hairspray to the build plate if you’re using a surface that PETG is highly likely to stick to, with glass surfaces coming to mind as the main culprit.
For surfaces where PETG is not likely to stick too firmly, using hairspray won’t be necessary as you will be able to separate the plastic from the surface without applying excessive force and creating the risk of causing damage to both the surface and the model.
On the other hand, applying hairspray to any surface to be on the safe side is also a valid strategy as it only comes with the minor downside of having to clean the residue afterward, which surely beats damaging the model or the surface.
How Does Applying Hairspray to the Surface Affect Printing PETG?
Understanding how applying hairspray to the surface affects the printing process is vital to deciding when to use it and when not to use it, so let’s take a detailed look at the exact purpose this process serves.
Applying hairspray to the surface creates a thin layer that rests right above the build plate, which causes the PETG to stick to itself rather than sticking directly to the build plate, weakening the adhesion strength between the plastic and the surface.
When the adhesion strength between the plastic and the surface isn’t too strong, the force required to separate the plastic from the surface is significantly reduced, decreasing the risk of damaging the model or the surface during the separation process.
While it may seem like the hairspray can cause bed adhesion issues, this isn’t the case, as PETG can still stick fairly firmly enough to the glue layer for a healthy printing process.
What Are Hairspray Alternatives for Printing PETG?
There are a few other products that can fulfill the role of acting as a separating agent as hairspray does, so don’t worry if you don’t have access to hairspray right now, as it’s pretty likely that you have an alternative handy.
Both glue stick and Windex (also known as glass cleaner) make great hairspray alternatives for printing PETG since both of these products create a separating layer between the PETG and the build plate in a similar vein to hairspray.
While there are slight differences between these three products in terms of how you will need to clean them off after the printing process, they are all capable of fulfilling the same role of preventing the PETG from sticking to the build plate during the print.
On the other hand, even though not exactly the same as the separating agents we have mentioned earlier, products such as Kapton tape and blue painter’s tape can be used to cover the build surface, which allows them to offer protection from the risk of PETG getting stuck to the surface by preventing the plastic from directly contacting the surface.
As the usage of each product comes with a distinct set of pros and cons, the choice primarily comes down to personal preference at the end of the day.
A bottle of hairspray is a product that we definitely recommend keeping around for 3D printing, as it’s highly likely for a situation to arise where applying hairspray to the surface can quickly solve the bed adhesion issues you’re facing.
To quickly recap, we can say that applying hairspray to the surface for printing with PETG is necessary in cases where there is a danger of the plastic sticking too firmly to the build surface, such as when you use glass beds that are notorious for this problem.
As the layer of hairspray acts as a separating agent between the build surface and the PETG and prevents the plastic from sticking to the build surface to the point where it becomes impossible to separate the two, it’s vital to apply it to avoid irreversible damage to both the model and the surface in such cases.
On the other hand, if you are unsure of whether PETG will stick too firmly to your build surface or not, you won’t lose out on anything by applying hair spray to be on the safe side, other than having to clean your build plate afterward.
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.