The day I stopped using hairspray
This blog title is funny for a few reasons but mostly because I have shaved my head since I was a 16-years old so the idea that I ever used hairspray is hilarious and also because I am African-American so why would I use it even if I had hair?!
I never used hairspray until I had my own 3D printer and struggled with get that perfect layer adhesion that we all dread and stress about. I had used several products ranging from glue sticks to specialty products and even used a glass build plate for a while. In the end they all failed me in one way or another. As I expanded my material type, each with their own temperature ranges and varying degrees of pressure of extruded material, I began to realize that the solution was to find a bed material that could bond with the molten filament and then release when the print was done. Bed leveling became increasingly difficult with products that I had to apply to my existing bed and in some cases the nozzle actually scraped up the material causing issues with extrusion and layer shifting.
After a few months of trial and error I stumbled across a Kickstarter campaign for a new startup based out of Sollies Pont, France. The guys at Zimple claimed to have finally figured out the winning combination of materials to make a flexible build plate with great adherence. So with a price point that made it easy to take a chance I decided to buy one and tested it myself. Ziflex comes in two parts, with strong directional magnetic sheets on both parts. Just stick the one with 3M adhesive to your original bed, and then place the flexible Ziflex build plate on it.
I am not one to provide endorsements or promote products unless I think it is the real deal and I can tell you that the Ziflex flexible build plate from Zimple is an absolute must have if you are doing your own 3D printing. I ran it through the paces and conducted several side-by-side test on two identical 3D printers (Anycubic i3 Mega-S) which already came with a really nice Ultrabase build platform. Using the same 3D model, slicer, material (PLA since it is so easy to work with), and settings, I conducted more than a dozen test prints. I started with the standard Benchy and other calibration print models and then moved to some more challenging prints with parts that made little contact with the bed.
I have to say that I was more than just a little impressed with the consistency that the Ziflex performed. It wasn't that the Ultrabase on the Anycubic didn't perform well but the ability to remove the flexible plate and instantly remove the 3D print without having to wait for the build plate to completely cool down or use a tool to remove it was a nice surprise. The rare occurrence a print edge lifting or curling up on the Ziflex was usually due to a bad setting for my flow rate and was even worse on the Ultrabase. The uniform heat was something that I was initially skeptical of but I did my own testing using my trusty infrared thermal imaging tool and this product passed with flying colors. During some of my prints I actually hung out and watched or did a time lapse recording and then replayed it in 2x speed to see if there were any print operation issues that may have caused a part to become lifted from the build platform. Like many of you, I struggle with the occasional "glitch" in my 3D printer movements that sometimes sit in one place for a few seconds which usually results in the nozzle sticking to the part and then pushing it off the build plate and ruining the print job. What I noticed with the Ziflex product is that the adhesion to the build plate surface is so strong that in most cases the part didn't move when the printer paused and nestled the nozzle into the part.
Cleanup and maintenance of the Ziflex is super easy and when I notice some residual material or and issue with first layer adhesion I simply use rubbing alcohol and wipe down the plate.
I also like the surface of my 3D printed parts that come in direct contact with the Ziflex build plate. For some reason it is smoother and seems to have more uniformity in the first layer than when I print on the Ultrabase.
So if you are struggling with first layer adhesion or just tired of using annoying or hazardous materials to get your prints to stick I highly recommend Ziflex.
You can check them out at www.zimple3d.com/ziflex/