Musings and Experiments on the Art and Science of 3D Printing

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The Perfect First Layer

By Michael Hackney Friday, August 25, 2017
I've written a lot about the importance of the first layer. It is the foundation for the rest of the print and, if not perfect, chances are good the print won't be either. I have an entire strategy in my upcoming book on first layers. Here's an example of a perfect first layer I'm printing now:

This is how a perfect first layer should look - uniform, no ridges, no gaps, perfect intersection with the perimeter but not significantly overlapped, perfect thickness (0.20mm in this case). 

Slicing details: KISSlicer 1.6 RC1, PLA (cheap stuff) on PEI 60°C first layer turned down to 55° for subsequent layers, 190°C extrusion temp, 15mm/s first layer speed.

Here are some tips and tricks on how I get perfect first layers like this (PLA):
  • I print exclusively on PEI that has been lightly sanded with 600grit paper with a little water (1/2 teaspoon for the entire surface).
  • I clean scrupulously with isopropyl alcohol using a lint-free microfiber cloth.
  • I increase the first layer temperature by 5°C and then go back to my normal 55°C bed temp on subsequent layers. I do this in the slicer so I don't have to do it manually.
  • I use RepRapFirmware and use delta auto-calibration at the start of every print.
  • I print a prime line off to the edge of the bed to prepare the hot end/extruder to do the real work.
  • I always print my first layers 5 15mm/s - especially anything that is more complicated than a simple layer like the one in the photo. Once I have a great first layer, I can make up for lost time by printing faster confident that the first layer is well adhered.

2 comments to ''The Perfect First Layer"

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  1. Hello Mr. Hackney. I've been following your blog and YouTube channel for a while now and have to say that you are putting out some great information.

    I just purchased the UltiBots D300VS+ and was wondering if you can recommend a good PEI sheet solution?

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    1. Thanks Daniel. I get my PEI from either McMaster Carr or Amazon. It is square but easy to cut. You can get the 3M tape from Amazon. A full 12" square is easiest to use or you can use strips. Literally everything you need to know about installing PEI is here: http://forum.seemecnc.com/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=7452

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