This page is a collection of “how-to” videos we’ve made tailored to the beginner and intermediate level 3D printers. We hope to add many more in the future with a variety of topics and different printers. Interested in helping us with videos? Contact us! We’ll definitely be hooking you up with filament and also give you credit.

IC3D : How to Print the Perfect First Layer on your 3D Printer

First layer squish is the amount that the first layer of your print is pushed into the build plate. More squish will produce a flatter first layer that has more contact with the build plate, but less Z height. Less squish will produce lines that look like noodles.

In FDM printing, part warping and poor adhesion to the build plate, are problems that plague 3D printers.
I have found that setting a proper distance between the build plate and the nozzle remedies most of the warping problems that I have had.

You can often tell how well the build plate has been set by looking at the base of the part after it has been pulled from the build plate.

The shiny section shows places where the plastic has been pressed into the build plate. The rest of the first layer, is not contacting the top of the plate.

I try to make the majority of the base layer lines shiny, but I still want to be able to make out the different lines from each other.

Here are the results of under squish, shown on the left; over squish shown on the right; and a good amount of squish, shown in the center. You can see that the under squish is very warped and has separations between the strings of filament. The over squish is too flat and has raised ridges between the strings of filament.

There are also many machines out there that lack very flat build surfaces, which makes leveling properly impossible. Make sure that this is a huge consideration when purchasing a printer, as it will save you a lot of time and headache in the future with part warping.

IC3D : How to Level a Typical Cantilevered-Style Build Plate

With the FDM 3D printing process it is very important that your build plate is nice and level for each print. In addition, we want to make sure we set the build plate just the right distance away from the printing nozzle so that we get a good stick on the first printing layer. This is your best tool to combat part warping, and too large of a distance from bed to nozzle will lead to warping.

Today I have a flashforge creator, which is a very common makerbot clone.

These machines use a leveling sequence in which they move the nozzle to five different places on the build plate. For each stop we will want to set the correct bed distance to the nozzle. This is done by using a standard piece of printer paper. The thickness of the paper is important, as we are using it to set a distance. Do not use an extra thick piece of paper.

Once we have the paper between the nozzle and the bed, we will turn the adjustment screws under the bed to raise and lower the bed. Loosening a screw will raise the corner of the bed while tightening will lower the corner of the bed. At each adjustment position, we are only really concerned with the two screws that are closest to the nozzle.

The finial middle position will be used to fine tune your adjustments. Sometimes the middle of the build plate will be higher or lower than the sides of the build plate. This is an indication that your build plate is not very flat, or that you may want to redo the sequence.

If you have two extruders it can be helpful to rotate the paper slightly side to side during the each adjustment point. This will help you determine if one side is slightly higher than the other.

When adjusting the gap between the nozzle and the build plate, I like to feel a light drag when I pull on the paper. This is something that you can adjust for each print. If you are having warping issues, you may want to push the bed even closer to the nozzle. Keep in mind that this will slightly alter the Z height of your part, but will improve your first layer squish. If you push the nozzle too close, it will hit the bed, possibly messing up your kapton tape, or scratching your build plate. This can also cause jamming as the extruder will have a harder time pressing filament out of the nozzle.

IC3D : How to Apply Kapton Tape to a Glass Build Plate

Hey everyone. This is Matt from IC3D and I am going to show you a quick and easy way to apply kapton tape to any build plate for an FDM style 3D Printer.

For this method, we will need a spray bottle of water, a squeegee with a rubber edge, scissors, and your choice of kapton tape. We have tested numerous kapton tape suppliers, throughout our personal printing experience and what we, at IC3D, have chosen to stock, yields the best adhesion performance for both ABS and PLA.

Having a raised non-slip platform to work on will help to keep the tape from sticking to surfaces other than the build plate. Here we use a piece of one inch foam to support the build plate
Use rubbing alcohol and a paper towel to clean the build plate before applying kapton tape. This will help to keep hairs and debris off of the build plate.

Start by spraying the surface of your build plate with water.
Then pull off a piece of kapton tape that is long enough to reach from one end to the other of your build plate. Hold this up and spray it with water. The water will create a temporary buffer between the glass and the adhesive in the tape.
Place your tape onto the build plate and use scissors to cut the tape from the roll.

Position the kapton tape on the build plate. Once you have the tape where you would like it, hold the tape in place with one hand, and squeegee the tape with the other. This will force the water out from between the tape and the plate, causing the adhesive to stick to the plate. Make sure to remove all bubbles from the tape as this will cause problems such as torn kapton tape, poor first layer squish, or dents in the base of parts.

If you mess up, just pull the tape up, spray more water under the tape, and use the squeegee again.

Repeat this process until you have covered all of your build plate
Finally, use some scissors to trim the excess kapton tape from the edge of the plate.

Check for bubbles around the edge of the tape. Use the squeegee to remove them if necessary.

Finally, dry the build plate with a paper towel.