Warping Prints And How Not To

One of the issues I’ve had with the printing of ABS plastic from the beginning is warping. The print bed is heated and it results in warped prints that often are useless.

I created a nice case for a ZoomFloppy circuit board:


Looks ok, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t. Not really. This was intended to be printed top-side-up for the top part, and bottom-side-up for the bottom half, giving the exterior the best surface. But when I printed it that way, the seam that joins the two “halves” warped and would not fit together.

To fix this I printed both parts face down, which is not ideal, since the underside of any print with my printer doesn’t print as finished as the top side. So for this case, the interior actually looks more finished than the exterior.

The first thing you need to know about printing in ABS plastic is that there are several useful methods to hold down prints, but even they don’t work perfectly all the time.

Acetone Slurry

This is a common method. Take some acetone in a glass jar, and mix in snippets of ABS plastic (10/1 ratio by weight) and let the acetone dissolve the ABS until you have a milky slurry.

Use a brush (non plastic) and brush a thin layer onto boroscilicate glass (which I use for my print bed), let it dry (seconds) and print on it.

Then magic happens. The print holds down almost all the time, then when it cools (after it is done) you can hear the plastic releasing itself from the glass in little cracks. When the glass is cool the print comes off easily.

But even this fails me.

I have been reading up on many different methods to hold down prints, and one was purple Elmer’s Glue Stick. I hadn’t tried it mostly because from reading early articles, it was apparent that this method wasn’t quite as good as the acetone slurry.

But this past week I read more, and people are swearing by this method as one of the best, and certainly it’s neater to maintain, so I decided to give it a shot.

This weekend I bought a purple Elmer’s Glue Stick and cleaned off my glass sheets and gave it a try.

All I can say is WOW.

Yes, I had a couple of warped prints, but that may have been inexperience.

Mostly, the prints held down like crazy and as the glass cools you can hear a loud POP as the print releases itself from the glass. Sometimes a small print may actually fly into the air a bit and fall off the glass. It’s wild.

So for those of you who are printing in ABS with a heated print bed (PLA does not require a heated print bed and is less prone to warping) and you haven’t tried this yet, run, don’t walk, out to the store and get one of these glue sticks.


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