Bed adhesion is, without a doubt, one of the trickiest things to get correctly in 3D printing with so many different filament types and build surfaces reacting differently to another, especially considering that even a slight issue in bed adhesion can cause the print to fail.
While the main thing that comes to mind when bed adhesion is the topic is the plastic and the build plate not sticking to each other, the opposite where the build plate and the plastic stick way too firmly to each other is also a common issue that is just as problematic for the printing process.
Today, we will try to find out whether applying a glue stick to the build surface for printing PETG filament is beneficial to the printing process or not, as we often hear glue sticks and PETG mentioned together in relation to bed adhesion problems.
So, should you apply a glue stick to the surface while printing PETG?
As PETG is a type of filament that is notorious for sticking way too firmly to widely used printing surfaces such as glass, PEI, and even magnetic beds at times, applying glue stick to the surface as a release agent is highly recommended.
In the upcoming sections, we will analyze whether it’s a good idea to apply a glue stick to the surface while printing with PETG in more detail, find out what purpose the glue stick serves, and take a look at some of the alternative products that can replace a glue stick.
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Should You Apply Glue Stick to the Surface for Printing PETG?
While glue stick is one of the most talked-about products in 3D printing in the context of bed adhesion, with many members of the community swearing by it to improve the printing process, it’s not a one-size-fits-all product that you can always use.
We highly recommend applying a glue stick (or any other release agent) to the build surface for printing PETG, as it’s a well-known fact that PETG can adhere very firmly to almost all types of build surfaces, with glass being the most common.
Unless you’re printing PETG on a surface such as powder-coated PEI, which is practically designed in a way to ensure that plastic doesn’t adhere way too firmly to it, not using a release agent can yield disastrous results where the plastic gets permanently stuck to the build surface.
On the other hand, we have to mention that applying the glue stick to the build surface also has downsides, such as leaving a mess that requires cleaning after each print, which can get tedious after a while if you use your 3D printer frequently.
While we can all agree that having to clean up glue residue beats the scenario where both the model you have printed and the build surface are at risk due to it being impossible to separate the two, it’s also worth mentioning that the glue stick isn’t without alternatives after all.
What Purpose Does the Glue Stick Serve for Printing with PETG?
While intuition would tell us that the glue stick serves as a way to get PETG to stick in a better way to the build surface, the actual purpose of the glue stick is far different.
In an optimal scenario where the build surface is clean enough for PETG to stick to it firmly, the purpose of the glue stick is to act as a release agent, preventing the PETG from adhering to the surface to a degree where it becomes impossible to remove.
When printing with the layer of glue stick between the plastic and the build surface, the glue essentially prevents the PETG from forming bonds that are way too strong with the surface, which we could practically consider to be a reduction of adhesion strength between the two materials.
Even though the fact that it’s glue can make it seem like applying the glue stick serves the purpose of obtaining a higher degree of adhesion between the plastic and the build surface, the fact is that PETG will stick to a properly cleaned build surface way more firmly than it would ever stick to a layer of glue.
What Are Glue Stick Alternatives for Printing PETG Filament?
A glue stick isn’t the only product that can work as a separating agent between PETG and the build surface, with a decent amount of alternatives doing the job just as well, or even better in some cases.
The most widely used alternatives to glue sticks for printing PETG filament are Windex (glass cleaning spray) and hairspray, as they both create a layer that separates the plastic from the build surface, similar to how the layer of glue works.
While not in the same vein as a glue stick, painter’s tape and Kapton tape are also great products for protecting the build surface from the possibility of plastic getting stuck to it, as in the worst case, you can remove the tape from the build surface and avoid any damage.
At the end of the day, when it comes to making a choice between different separating agents, the decision primarily comes down to experimenting and finding out what works best in your case, as there is no single product that seems to be outperforming all the others for now.
A glue stick is definitely one of the handy items to keep around for the purposes of 3D printing regardless of the filament or build surface you’re printing with, as it offers a quick way to resolve issues related to bed adhesion.
To quickly recap, we highly recommend the usage of a glue stick for printing PETG regardless of the build surface you use, as the layer of glue prevents the PETG from sticking to the build plate way too firmly to the point where it becomes impossible to remove.
While there is no denying that the glue stick does leave a mess behind, it’s a quick and easy solution that will save you from a scenario where it becomes impossible to separate the plastic from the build surface without damaging either object.
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.