3D Printing First Layer Problems: Ripples, Gaps & Bubbles

Explore the 3D printing common first layer problems and issues and how to fix them in this detailed post. For beginners, the art of 3D printing can have a steep learning curve, but things get better with experience.

3D Printing First Layer Ripples

Ripples or curls may appear in the first 3D-printed layer. This is the most common problem observed during 3 Printing. Learn the causes and solutions to this as discussed below.

What Causes 3D printing First layer Ripples

It is caused by using too high of a flow rate with the 3D printer. Ripples in the surface of a 3-D printed object start to appear towards the end of the print because heat from the extrusion process is affecting that proximity.

The layers near to where it’s laid down tend to cool faster than those closer too and can shrink more readily. This shrinking will show as waves if not compensated for by reapplying an even layer – which you may have done twice already!

A ripple should dissipate over time and after a number of layers are added; try slowing down your printing speed or running your prints at night.

How do you fix a ripple on a 3D Printer?

You need to change the flow rate on your nozzle! Use 30% as your baseline and increase accordingly as you print with PLA. Ideally, you’d want to use no more than 60%.

If these steps don’t work then there might be something wrong with your 3D printing extruders and it’s likely time for a replacement.

3D Printing First Layer Not Sticking

The most common reason for a 3D printed object to not stick is the printer’s layer height.

How do you stick the first layer on a 3D printer? The best solution for this would be to resize the model so that it can fit within the desired print space, ensuring at least .4 inch of “squish” on top of your object.

It is also possible that there are gaps between your model and the platform, causing spaces where air can get in. To make sure this does not happen, try creating a skirt or perimeter by applying beads around your model before printing.

This will fill any potential holes with molten plastic and make sure it layers firmly on top of everything else during printing! Lastly, you might want to use an adhesive like Loctite Super Glue Gel.

3D Printing First Layer Height

In the 3D Printing community, accurate first layer height is a hotly debated topic. There are many camps on how best to achieve a good first layer height depending on what type of printer you have and your desired print quality.

Some popular methods include printing with a thick filament to mimic the heated bed of an FDM printer, utilizing an enclosure to heat up the air inside, or using glue sticks for PLA for extra adhesion.

Many people use ~0.05mm as their first layer height because it is considered by most in this field to be “safe.”

That being said, various factors may need to be taken into consideration depending upon your situation (specifically whether you are building parts for yourself or someone else).

3D Printing First Layer Rough

Why is my first layer so rough? The first layer of a print is always the most difficult part because it has to adhere to and build on 3 dimensions from a 2-dimensional surface.

Sometimes this can be alleviated if the print head is slightly tipped so as not to lay down flat, but oftentimes, changing these settings do nothing or take too much time for too little improvement.

In order to achieve perfect prints every time, you need good filament with a high glass content, which will provide just enough retraction force without making it impossible for the print head to feed properly.

Print at 230-240C with only a brief pause between layers and just keeping in mind that there may be some warping present due to extrusion speed differences at various places across the model.

3D Printing First Layer Gaps

The first layer of the print may have a gap to compensate for printer inconsistencies. You should add a brim or other means to prevent parts from being lifted by the bed movement, which creates a want for support material.

There are also other factors that can cause this including dragging filament from the nozzle to insufficient cooling due to incorrect airflow direction.

The main thing is to check your printing environment and know that a little care will go a long way towards extending part life and reducing churn.

3D Printing First Layer Bubbles

3D printing first layer bubbles are a known problem. In the past, there were enough people using vat dyes who got around it by doing multiple perimeter prints and filling in the gaps with strips of tape or pulling up a bit of raft material from an adjacent row.

To find out more about how to create 3D Printing First Layer bubbles- free models go to Instructables on this topic.
Most filaments come prepped with a soapy mixture for helping getting started on your print job.

The nature of this help is that it’s “sticky”, so if your first layer of your model is too small, you’ll have trouble separating from the bed during the next steps – just allow some extra space at first and everything should turn out fine.

3D Printing First Layer Peeling

3D Printing first layer peeling is an issue caused by the first 3D printing layer not properly adhering to the following layers.

This can happen for a number of reasons including bad filament quality, incorrect filament diameter, and temperature settings, and insufficient print platform heating time.

The problem with 3D printing first layer peeling can be corrected using some combination of these three methods:

#1 Use higher temperatures (such as those needed for ABS).

Ensure that your PLA parts are heated up sufficiently before starting on them; this will ensure that they do not experience undue stress from the heat during extrusion. Increase print bed temperature where necessary so the printed part does not cool down too quickly after extrusion.

#2 Level the Printing Bed

After printing the first layer it needs to be fixed by leveling the print bed. This can be done by re-adjusting the nozzle height or z-axis bit depth.

Reducing retraction distance also helps if this is an issue based on how fast that happens after printing different speeds at the same speed settings.

#3 Calibrate the Printer

Calibrating one’s printer will help as well as checking old parts to see if they have been printed too far away from the binary line.

#4 Change Material

Lastly changing materials might work for some printers to give PVC PVC/SF which has been known to solve problems with loose prints and holder material not staying in a line because of low melting.

READ MORE: Do you need ventilation when using a 3D printer?