First Layer Issues

This is by far the most common 3D printing problem, and probably the first one you may encounter. The first layer is the essential one because it is the base of the printed object. Therefore, if it isn’t perfect, the chance of print failure increases. Many common 3D printing problems stem from a poor first layer. There’s a couple of things that can go wrong when printing your first layer, so let’s take a look at what can be done to avoid these problems.

Prepare the print surface. Keep the surface clean and free of grease. Otherwise, your first layer will have trouble sticking to the print bed. Before starting any of your prints from ABS, PLA and many other materials, simply wipe the print surface clean with IPA 90%+. Also, you should use Acetone from time to time, when prints stop sticking, or window cleaner – but do not use it on daily basis, because the surface may become brittle.

If the nozzle is too close to the printing bed, there won’t be enough room for plastic to come out of the extruder. By having the nozzle too close to print surface, you will essentially block its opening, so that no plastic can be extruded. You can easily recognize this issue when the print does not extrude plastic for the first layer or two. Use Live Adjust Z function and First Layer Calibration options to tweak the height of the nozzle.

If the nozzle is too far from the printing bed, extruded plastic won’t stick to it. Your goal is to find the perfect distance between the tip of the nozzle and the printing bed — not too far and not too close. For good adhesion to the build plate, you want your filament to be slightly squished on the build plate. Use Live Adjust Z function and First Layer Calibration options to tweak the height of the nozzle.

Solutions for these issues:

Proper calibration of the first layer – First, you must perform the First layer calibration (LCD Menu – Calibration – First layer cal.). For more information on this procedure, see our knowledge base. Once you are happy with the result, you can start printing. Later on, you may apply small adjustments to the nozzle height through the Live Adjust Z option when the printer is creating the initial three layers. Just press the Knob during printing for about 2 seconds and go to the Live Adjust Z. This will move the nozzle in steps of +-0.025mm further away from the print bed or closer to the print bed. Keep changing this value by small increments until there is enough room between the nozzle and the build platform for the plastic to escape. An ideal first layer is shown in the photo below.

Decrease the printing speed – If the steps described above didn’t help, then try decreasing the printing speed. The easiest way how to do it is by rotating the knob during the printing process. Anti-clockwise = decrease speed, Clockwise = increase speed. We suggest decreasing the speed to about 75% for the first three layers, then return it to normal.

Use recommended printing temperatures, make sure to use the recommended nozzle and heatbed temperatures – Slic3r PE will configure them correctly based on the selected material, so you don’t need to adjust the temperatures manually on the printer itself. If you are experimenting with new materials that don’t adhere well, you can try to bump up the heatbed temperature by 5-10°C. This way the plastic will stick a bit better.

If none of these suggestions resolved the issue, then it is likely that the extruder is clogged. This can happen either when excessive debris gets stuck inside the nozzle, when hot plastic is kept inside the extruder for too long, or when the thermal cooling for the extruder is not sufficient and the filament begins to soften outside of the desired melt zone. Fixing a clogged extruder may require disassembling the extruder. Please see our knowledge base to learn more about this issue.