A key part of 3D printing is getting your model to adhere to the print bed during printing. This is a requirement so that each new layer is accurately placed on the model. However, when your print is completed, you don’t really want it to stick to the build plate anymore. Thankfully, after the print and print bed have cooled down most of the time, the print either comes off on its own or with only minor effort. Unfortunately, sometimes this isn’t the case, and you can end up with your print stuck firmly to the build plate.
How to Remove Your Print from The Print Bed
The first thing to do is to double-check that everything has cooled properly, you might need to give it another half-hour or so, but if you do, it might just come off easily. If your print is cool, though, try using a bit more force if you can. Of course, this won’t work for every build. Some may not have too much fine detail and not enough structure to apply a lot of force.
If force isn’t working, or if you can’t use it, a flat, sharp blade can be a fantastic tool to free a stuck print. Tools such as spatulas, plastic razors, and filling knives are ideal for this as they are large, flat, and strong. Even a flat head screwdriver can work in a pinch. However, be careful when using sharp blades not to damage your print or print bed, and be extra careful not to hurt yourself.
While it won’t help you to free a currently stuck print, you may want to consider switching to a flexible print bed. While glass obviously can’t flex at all, aluminum build plates generally have a small amount of flex. You can also get print bed covers made from a flexible rubber-like material. These can be easily removed and easily flexed to pop your prints right off. You may need to shop around to find one that supports your printer and, for example, doesn’t block an inductive leveling sensor. Adding a cover will also require you to re-level your print bed. Alternatively, you can adjust the z offset to get the 0-level accurate again. Adding a thin removable layer such as painters’ tape or peelable PEI sheets can also work well if you planned ahead.
A raft or brim can help to remove prints, assuming you have added one ahead of time. While the extra surface area increases the adhesion, especially when printing, you don’t have to be careful when using a sharp blade to pop the print off the print bed.
Tips and other solutions
The main reason prints can easily come off once cooled but stick well when hot is thermal expansion. When hot, the two surfaces match, but the print bed tends to contract more than the printed plastic when cooled. You can make this effect stronger by cooling a stuck print further. Placing it in a cool place such as a fridge or even a freezer can help the print pop right off.
Dental floss can also help to loosen a stuck print, although you should take care not to floss too much as the friction may damage the print. Other string-type products can also work, such as jewelry wire or high gauge wire.
While this only applies to to removable print beds, also try washing the build plate with water. This can work to remove sticky substances such as glue or hairspray. Starting with some warm but not hot water can help wash sticky substances away, then switching to cold water can cool the print bed, so it contracts to pop the print off. If you really need to, you can try other solvents such as isopropyl alcohol or acetone. However, these can damage many build surfaces.
You may want to research how your print bed will fare before using this as a last resort. If you use a solvent, apply as little as possible. Add it to a point where the print meets the print bed to soften it. Then carefully use a sharp prying tool to get underneath the print and free it.
After reading this hopefully, you have some more tricks to try to remove stubborn prints and to prevent future prints from sticking again. If you’ve got any more tips you’d like to share, let us know down in the comments.