Over the course of time, your 3D printer bed can start warping and bending, this results in a product that cannot adequately work in your favor.
A warped 3D printer bed is an issue that can ease issues and decrease print quality, so we have taken a look around to find some of the best solutions to this problematic issue.
There are plenty of different ways you can fix a warped 3D printer bed.
You could add additional glass bed surfaces on top, add layers of tape or other materials, you could use an automated leveling system, or even sand down the printers bed.
These are some basic methods you could use to fix this issue, however, we can provide more detail that will help you know which methods are best for you to use to fix your warped bed.
We can provide all these answers, including some information on why this even happens in the first place.
Methods to fix your Warped Print Bed
Using an additional surface
While there are many roads you can take when you seek to fix the issue of a warped printer bed. One of these is to use an additional surface on top of your current bed.
Using a good material that works well for this is a glass build surface.
What you can do, especially if you have a smaller build plate, is pick up some mirrored glass tiles from a hardware store, this is a cheap and handy solution.
Though this is not the traditional fix that many would consider it has definitely been a useful fix for a few 3D printers out there that have needed a helping hand.
You could also go with PEI, or other similar types of build mats that are quite thin, so you do not risk losing much of the build height.
Not only are these products easy to get, but they also have a really quick install process with a bubble-free application.
It is a perfect and simple surface that you can reuse for countless prints, and it doesn’t even need the additional help of adhesives, tape, or glue.
Once you have given your PEI sheet time to cool off, the parts are easy to remove and by giving it a quick clean with isopropyl alcohol you keep it good as new.
Using a thick surface on top of your current bed surface will take away more height from your already limited height, so if you are making prints of a certain height, this may not be ideal.
It will also seem impossible to accurately calibrate your print bed if your heated bed underneath is uneven enough.
For an example, if the four corners of your heated bed is higher than the sides then it is a clear issue.
Alternatively some people have flattened the corners by using cable ties to pull them down, while it is not the best solution, and is not ideal. It will give you much better results than if you do nothing.
Levelling the bed and using an automatic levelling system
Some of the biggest instances of warping can be solved simply by levelling the bed as much as you can, then by using an automatic levelling system which incorporates levels measures into its movements.
To explain how an automatic leveling system works, it basically explains that if the measurement in one corner was 0.2 mm below another corner, then the automatic leveling system would adjust the print head by 0.2 mm to match the proper level.
These can also be called bed auto-compensation which is just a proximity probe that measures several points of the print bed.
Now, despite it being a good fix to continue getting good prints, it is not the best long term solution, and is really more of a quick fix. If the surface warps enough, the printer may start to show these issues after some time.
Even after plenty of calibration, and leveling of your bed, it will still be uneven and warped so instead of auto-levelling your bed, it may be better to manually solve the whole problem from the course.
Using levelling knobs to flatten the printer bed
If your print bed has one side higher than the other than the other is something you can do if you have leveling knobs. You want to tighten the knobs on the side that is higher up, then loosen the ones on the side that is lower.
This will rotate the entire bed clockwise slightly and will therefore even out both sides of the bed while making it lower in the middle.
This works because it decreases the effect of warping where it is at its worst. Making it good enough that you can get decent prints around the entire print bed.
If you have a warped bed it can cause issues with the adhesion, even if the bed is leveled. This is why this kind of adjustment is fantastic to do if you can, it works really well, in addition to re-setting your Z-stop.
Using other materials to balance the bed level
If your bed is at the stage where it is warped to the point where it is translating through to the surface above, you can add on layers of tape to balance it out.
Get creative with what you can use it you have to. We definitely recommend using a toil tape, because this kind of tape had fantastic heat transferring properties.
However, there is an issue when you add on an extra surface to your printer, be wary of the surfaces heating up unevenly as the top layer will not be touching the heated bed underneath.
This means that where it touches will be warm and where it doesn’t touch will be cooler.
Some people have solved this issues using a sim, or spacer, which is just a thin, sometimes tampered or wedged material that fills small gaps or spaces between objects, in this case the bed.
The main functional uses are to support, adjust or create a better fit or to provide a level surface. The best part of these is that you can get them pretty cheap.
If the bed is warped bad enough for it to transfer through to the mat or mirror, then you may want to consider adding a few layers of tape; foil tape is the best tape to the bed to transfer heat.
Sometimes if there is enough of a bow in the bed, a shim may be the only way to get it back to being truly level without just replacing the whole thing entirely.
Sanding down the printer bed
If you are feeling up to a challenge and fancy taking a step to really tackling the printer bed warping, then you could test out the process of sanding the bed itself, until you can reach a point where it is more leveled.
There are examples of people doing this before. One example is going from a height different of 0.3 mm, from the highest to the lowest point, all the way down to 0.03 mm of difference after all the sanding and hard work.
This example took 8 hours, which is quite a while to spend doing all this, but it worked out very well in the end. So, this is certainly an option for you to use as a fix, albeit only if you have the time to spend fixing the issue this way.
You could possibly cut down the time it takes to do this by going to a machine shop that offers a blanchard grinding service.
They would be able to do a task like this in just minutes as they use very hardcore equipment that is made to handle such materials as this.
When you get the print bed level again, you will get a lot more confidence in your ability to print larger objects for a longer print time and so you can benefit quite greatly from doing this.
Despite how much effort it is, you can really benefit from this process and so it is worth it in the long run in making sure that your print bed is adequately levelled and not warped.
Others have some similar things, having from again a 0.3 mm deviation to 0.08 mm, which is enough that your printer will greatly appreciate this.
Rather than sanding, some people may even flip the bed surface and then heat the bed and apply pressure of the deflected area
Should you just replace the whole thing?
There is very chance that you have tried absolutely everything that you can think of, and nothing is happening, you are failing left, right and center, and you have just had enough.
I think you know what we are going to say, don’t you? It’s time to replace the print bed, because its beyond the point of saving, there is nothing more you can do. It’s time.
As long as you know that this is the best thing to do, and it's a step in the right direction.
It is not ideal, but in many cases it will be the salvation of your frustration. It will take away the hassle of having to worry about things going sideways again.
If you do decide to go this way with your choice, you need to make sure that you get a print bed that is high quality and suitable for your 3D printer.
Your printer will treat you well as long as you tread your printer well, it's a two-way relationship.
The best time that most 3D printers will use is Borosilicate glass, which is the best for thermal conductivity, as normal glass don’t react that great to heat changes.
If you have a normal glass bed, then you may have experience in cracking and scratches from rapid cooling and heating, so this is a type of glass that will savage you from the irritating issues.
It is a lot better than the typical glass you may find with many 3D printers. It is simply a flt, heat-resistant plate that does not warp with long term use.
What this will do for you is ensure that heat is evenly distributed through the build surface, making parts easy to separate from the bed when it cools, it’ll be resistant to scratches and thermal shocks, as well as reducing any warping in your prints, and much, much more.
Take a look at the below Borosilicate glasses for the following printers.
310 x 310 x 3 mm thickness
235 x 235 x 4 mm
130 x 160 x 3 mm
220 x 220 x 4 mm
120 mm round x 3 mm
The Ender 3 V2 is a 3D printer that comes with a carborundum glass bed that is mostly immune to warping and has fantastic adhesion for 3D prints.
May people will use tape among other things in order to get their prints to stick down.
With this printer surface, there is not a lot of need, depending on what material you are printing with of course.
However, if you do have issues with your prints stick down, hairspray can actually do the trick with a layer or to, to help prevent this.
You simply need to order the glass surface and slip it into place, You can use a glass at a 60 °C, and you will need to adjust the Z-axis limit switch, up and down while you install.
Even if you do not need a replacement you could always use it as a plate switch in between finished prints to help educe time idling.
How to tell if the print bed is warped
A warped print surface is not always the most obvious thing to spot, however, if it is measured correctly it will show the significance of the imbalance that it has.
When you consider your usual layer height of a print, if the bed is warped in comparison to that layer height, it can affect your print, it may even stop your print from sticking down adequately.
Warping can often have a height difference of 0.1 mm to 0.5 mm, which when looked at in the layer height can accumulate up to 5 layers for a print. Hence, when you identify this you will know exactly where you stand.
You can easily check to see if your bed is warped. One way to do this is to use a strategy of inputting G-code to instruct your printer to check each point of your print bed in a visual interface.
Once you have incorporated this printer bed inspector utility, you can hit a ‘measure every’ button to automatically measure several points on your printer, you can even adjust the spacing.
This is a really handy thing to have, and a very helpful tool to have if you are dealing with this kind of issue.
Once you have identified that there is a warp, you can try each solution; trying out using an additional surface, if that doesn't work, give an automatic levelling system a try.
If this yields no results, try out levelling knobs, or using other materials. If none of these work, you can make an attempt at sanding it down, or just replace the whole thing.
Fixing this issue is a real pain but once you have followed through and found your fix, you will be back up and running again in no time, creating the most awesome prints.
You can skip out on the frustration that can drive you crazy, and instead feel confident in your print quality.
The difference between a successful user of a 3D printer, and one who is a beginner or an average user, is in these types of fixes.
Tackling the nitty-gritty annoying problems like this that come up when you own one of these awesome devices.
Knowing that you will eventually have to tackle these problems, and how to tackle them, can build and craft a consistently high producing machine, and a happy user.
Don’t be afraid to test out every option before you make a successful fix, becoming a 3D printing pro comes with a learning curve.