Everything You Need to Know About Glue for 3D Printing

When it comes to 3D printing, the right adhesive can make all the difference. Whether you are a professional or an enthusiast, understanding the various types of glue for 3D printing is essential for achieving high-quality prints. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different adhesives available for 3D printing, their uses, and how to effectively apply them to ensure successful printing.

From bed adhesion to bonding printed parts, we will delve into the world of glues specifically designed for 3D printing. With this knowledge, you can enhance your printing experience and overcome common challenges such as warping, lifting, and weak bonds. So, let’s dive in and discover the perfect glue for your 3D printing needs!

Understanding the Importance of Bed Adhesion

Bed adhesion is a critical factor in successful 3D printing. Without proper adhesion, prints can fail or suffer from warping, leading to distorted or unusable objects. To achieve optimal bed adhesion, it is essential to understand the various factors that contribute to it.

Factors Affecting Bed Adhesion

Several factors influence bed adhesion, including the type of printer, print surface, filament material, and environmental conditions. Each of these factors requires careful consideration to ensure adequate adhesion.

Print Surface Preparation

Preparing the print surface is a crucial step in improving bed adhesion. One effective method is to use a heated bed, which helps the filament adhere to the surface. Additionally, cleaning the print surface with isopropyl alcohol or another suitable cleaning agent removes any contaminants that could hinder adhesion.

Types of Glue for Bed Adhesion

Several glues are specifically formulated to improve bed adhesion in 3D printing. The most common types include glue sticks, hairspray, and adhesive tapes. Each type has its advantages and is suitable for different filament materials and print surfaces.

Using Glue Sticks for Bed Adhesion

Glue sticks, such as those used in crafts or school projects, can be highly effective for bed adhesion. The glue creates a thin layer between the print surface and the filament, promoting better adhesion. To use a glue stick, simply apply an even layer to the print surface before starting the print.

Enhancing Bed Adhesion with Hairspray

Hairspray is another popular adhesive for improving bed adhesion in 3D printing. It creates a sticky surface that helps hold the filament in place during printing. Apply a light coat of hairspray to the print surface, ensuring even coverage. However, be cautious not to apply too much, as it can lead to excessive adhesion and difficulties in removing the print.

Adhesive Tapes for Bed Adhesion

Adhesive tapes, such as blue painter’s tape or Kapton tape, are commonly used to enhance bed adhesion. These tapes provide a textured surface that promotes adhesion while allowing for easy removal of the print. Apply the tape to the print surface, ensuring there are no wrinkles or bubbles that could affect adhesion.

PLA Glues: Enhancing Your Prints

PLA is one of the most commonly used materials in 3D printing. While PLA generally adheres well to print surfaces, using specific glues can further enhance the adhesion and improve the overall print quality.

Understanding PLA Filament

PLA filament is a popular choice due to its ease of use, low warping tendency, and environmentally friendly nature. However, achieving optimal adhesion with PLA can still pose challenges, especially when printing larger or more complex objects.

PLA Glue Options

Several glues are specifically formulated for PLA, providing a strong bond and enhancing bed adhesion. These glues often come in the form of adhesive sprays or specialized adhesives designed for PLA filament.

Using Adhesive Sprays for PLA

Adhesive sprays for PLA are easy to apply and provide a thin, even layer of adhesive on the print surface. This layer helps the PLA filament adhere more securely, reducing the chances of warping or lifting during printing. Follow the instructions on the spray can to ensure proper application.

Specialized Adhesives for PLA

Specialized adhesives formulated specifically for PLA offer excellent bonding properties. These adhesives often come in liquid or gel form and can be applied directly to the print surface. They provide a strong bond that keeps the print firmly in place throughout the printing process.

ABS Glues: Tackling the Challenges

ABS is another popular material in 3D printing, known for its durability and strength. However, ABS can present challenges when it comes to adhesion. Fortunately, there are glues available that are compatible with ABS and can provide effective solutions for bonding ABS prints.

Understanding ABS Filament

ABS filament is known for its tendency to warp and shrink during printing. Achieving proper adhesion with ABS can be challenging, as it requires a higher printing temperature and a suitable adhesive to prevent warping and lifting.

ABS-Specific Glues

There are glues available that are specifically designed to bond ABS filaments. These glues are formulated to provide a strong bond and resist the higher temperatures associated with ABS printing. They can be applied directly to the print surface or used as an adhesive layer between the print and the bed.

Applying ABS Glue

When applying ABS glue, it is crucial to ensure even coverage and a thin layer. Too much glue can lead to excessive adhesion, making it difficult to remove the print. Apply the glue evenly across the print surface, allowing it to dry before starting the print.

Specialty Glues for Exotic Materials

While PLA and ABS are commonly used in 3D printing, there are other exotic materials that require specialized glues for optimal adhesion. Materials such as nylon, PETG, and flexible filaments have unique properties that necessitate specific adhesive solutions.

Bonding Nylon Filaments

Nylon filaments are known for their strength and flexibility, making them ideal for functional prints. However, achieving proper adhesion with nylon can be challenging. There are glues available that are specifically designed to bond nylon filaments and provide a strong, durable bond.

Adhesives for PETG Filaments

PETG filaments offer excellent strength, durability, and temperature resistance. However, PETG can be prone to warping and lifting during printing. Using adhesives specifically formulated for PETG can help improve bed adhesion and ensure successful prints.

Bonding Flexible Filaments

Flexible filaments, such as TPU or TPE, require specialized glues to achieve optimal adhesion. These glues are designed to bond the flexible material while maintaining its elasticity. They provide a strong bond that allows for the flexibility and functionality of the printed objects.

Bonding Printed Parts: Glues for Assembly

Creating complex 3D printed objects often requires assembling multiple parts together. To ensure a robust and functional final product, it is crucial to choose the right adhesive for bonding the printed parts. Several types of adhesives are suitable for this purpose, depending on the materials being bonded.

Epoxy Adhesives for Strong Bonds

Epoxy adhesives are known for their exceptional bonding strength. They are suitable for bonding a variety of materials, including PLA, ABS, and even exotic filaments. Epoxy adhesives typically come in two parts that need to be mixed before application, providing a strong and durable bond between printed parts.

Cyanoacrylate (Super Glue) for Quick Bonds

Cyanoacrylate, commonly known as super glue, is a fast-acting adhesive that forms a strong bond quickly. It is suitable for bonding a wide range of materials, including PLA and ABS. Super glue is ideal for smaller, lightweight parts that require a quick and reliable bond.

Solvent-Based Adhesives for Seamless Bonds

Solvent-based adhesives, such as acetone or MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone), are commonly used for bonding ABS parts. These adhesives work by partially dissolving the ABS material, creating a seamless and strong bond between the printed parts. However, it is essential to use them in a well-ventilated area and follow proper safety precautions.

Removing Glue Residue: Tips and Tricks

After completing a 3D print, removing excess glue residue can be a challenging task. However, it is crucial to remove any residue to achieve a clean and professional finish. Here are some tips and tricks to effectively remove glue residue without damaging your prints.

Using Solvents for Glue Removal

Solvents, such as isopropyl alcohol or acetone, can be highly effective in removing glue residue from prints. Soak a cloth or cotton swab in the solvent and gently rub the affected area until the glue residue is dissolvedand wiped away. Be cautious when using solvents, as they can potentially damage certain materials. Always test a small, inconspicuous area before applying the solvent to the entire print.

Scraping off Excess Glue

If the glue residue is thick or stubborn, you can use a plastic scraper or a spatula to gently scrape it off the print surface. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as this can scratch or damage the print. Slow and steady motions will help remove the excess glue without causing harm.

Heat Treatment for Glue Removal

In some cases, heat can aid in the removal of glue residue. Use a heat gun or a hairdryer on a low setting to warm up the affected area. The heat will soften the glue, making it easier to peel or scrape off. Again, exercise caution to avoid applying excessive heat that could deform or damage the print.

Sanding for a Smooth Finish

If there are any remaining traces of glue residue after using solvents or scraping, sanding can be an effective method for achieving a smooth finish. Use fine-grit sandpaper or sanding blocks to gently sand the affected area until the residue is removed. Remember to sand in a controlled manner to avoid damaging the print.

Safety Considerations: Working with Glues

Working with glues requires proper safety measures to protect yourself and your surroundings. It is essential to follow safety guidelines and adhere to best practices to ensure a secure working environment. Here are some critical safety considerations when using adhesives for 3D printing:


When working with glues, ensure proper ventilation in your workspace. Many adhesives emit fumes that can be harmful if inhaled. Open windows or use fans to circulate fresh air and minimize fume exposure. If working with particularly strong adhesives, consider wearing a respirator for additional protection.

Personal Protective Equipment

Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential when working with glues. Gloves can protect your hands from direct contact with adhesives, preventing skin irritation or allergic reactions. Safety glasses or goggles are also recommended to shield your eyes from potential splashes or fumes.

Safe Handling Practices

Follow safe handling practices when working with glues. Keep the adhesive containers tightly closed when not in use to prevent spills or accidental exposure. Store the adhesives in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Always read and follow the instructions provided by the adhesive manufacturer to ensure proper usage and storage.

Alternative Solutions: Beyond Traditional Glues

While traditional glues are commonly used in 3D printing, there are alternative solutions that can offer effective adhesion results. These alternatives provide additional options for enhancing bed adhesion and part bonding. Here are a few alternatives to consider:

Adhesive Tapes

Adhesive tapes, such as blue painter’s tape or Kapton tape, can be an excellent alternative to traditional glues. These tapes provide a textured surface that promotes adhesion and can be easily applied and removed. They are particularly useful for printing with PLA or other filaments that adhere well to tape surfaces.

PEI Sheets

PEI (Polyetherimide) sheets are a popular alternative to glue for bed adhesion. These sheets provide a smooth and reliable print surface that ensures excellent adhesion with a wide range of filament materials. Simply attach the PEI sheet to your print bed and enjoy improved bed adhesion without the need for additional adhesives.

Printable Adhesion Aids

Some 3D printing enthusiasts have developed printable adhesion aids that can be applied to the print surface. These aids are usually small patterns or structures that help improve bed adhesion by increasing the surface area in contact with the filament. Simply print and attach these aids to your print bed to enhance adhesion.

Troubleshooting: Common Adhesion Issues

Even with the right glue and proper techniques, adhesion issues can still arise during 3D printing. Understanding and troubleshooting these common problems can help you overcome challenges and achieve successful prints. Here are some common adhesion issues and their possible solutions:

Lifting or Warping

If your prints are lifting or warping during printing, it may indicate inadequate bed adhesion. Ensure that the print surface is properly prepared and that the adhesive is evenly applied. Increasing the bed temperature, using a brim or raft, or adjusting the printing speed can also help improve adhesion and reduce lifting or warping.

Weak Bonds

If your printed parts do not have strong bonds when assembled, it may be due to insufficient adhesive coverage or improper application. Ensure that you apply the adhesive evenly and allow it to dry or cure fully before assembling the parts. Consider using stronger adhesives, such as epoxy, for improved bonding.

Excessive Adhesion

In some cases, the adhesive may provide excessive adhesion, making it difficult to remove the print or causing damage to the print surface. To mitigate this issue, use less adhesive or explore alternative adhesion methods, such as adhesive tapes or print surface coatings.

Best Practices for Glue Application

To achieve optimal adhesion and ensure successful 3D printing, it is essential to follow best practices when applying glue. These practices will help you achieve consistent and reliable results. Here are some key considerations:

Surface Preparation

Before applying the adhesive, ensure that the print surface is clean, dry, and free from any debris or contaminants. Use isopropyl alcohol or another suitable cleaning agent to remove any residue that could hinder adhesion.

Even Application

Apply the adhesive evenly across the print surface to ensure consistent adhesion. Whether using a glue stick, adhesive spray, or specialized adhesive, make sure to cover the entire surface without any gaps or uneven areas.

Allowing Sufficient Drying or Curing Time

After applying the adhesive, allow sufficient time for it to dry or cure. This will ensure that the adhesive has formed a strong bond with the print surface and is ready for printing or assembly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended drying or curing time.

Testing and Experimentation

Every 3D printer and filament combination may require slightly different adhesive techniques. It is essential to experiment and test different adhesives, application methods, and surface preparations to find the optimal solution for your specific setup. Keep notes and adjust your approach based on the results.

By following these best practices, you can achieve consistent and reliable adhesion, leading to successful 3D prints and minimizing the chances of adhesion-related issues.

Glue for 3D printing plays a vital role in achieving successful prints, enhancing bed adhesion, and bonding printed parts. By understanding the different types of glues available and their specific applications, you can optimize your 3D printing experience. Remember to prioritize safety and explore alternative solutions when necessary. With the knowledge gained from this comprehensive guide, you are now equipped to select the perfect glue for your 3D printing needs and overcome any adhesion challenges that come your way.

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