Questions about hairspray: Do you form a "layer" layer or just spray it really

(Yuan LIU) #1

Questions about hairspray: Do you form a “layer” layer or just spray it really thin? Do you aim at “mirror quality”? How long do you wait after spray? Do you heat dry? Any other techniques to help spray?

You must remember my singing the praises of Harbor Freight blue tapes ( and frequent quips about its sticking too well to bottom layer ( after a long struggle with first layer not sticking to bed. One problem when tapes stick too well is the need to peel, clean, and reapply every time. Glue stick on HFT tapes can reduce adhesion, but it takes even more preparation, and still doesn’t last more than a couple builds.

Before and after HFT, I had tried glue stick on clear glass, I had tried hairspray on clear glass, I had tried glue stick with hairspray on clear glass. I had always thought the thinner the layer, the more uniform it was. It only occurred to me about a year ago that a “mirror quality” layer of hairspray was very uniform, perhaps more uniform than a thin touch. But a “layer” layer of hairspray (i.e., a pool) requires a lot of time to dry. Lacking patience, I ended up using hair dryer to help. Will this reduce the quality of the adhesive?

Since then, I have had greater success in printing glossy bottom - a neat advantage of Ares 3D, and in multiple builds without reapplication. (Not a great number, but definitely much better than HFT blue tapes.) I have stopped using glue sticks as spray is easier than smearing. (I use dollar-store hairspray for this, so cost is negligible.) Despite testing my patience, a “layer” layer of hairspray gives me better outcome than the best glue stick application I have managed to make.

What is your technique?

(Michael Coley) #2

Hello Yuan LIU,

Great write-up and testing. Like you I have experimented with different adhesion methods.

Blue painters tape: I found that the small thin strips were troublesome and located large sheets at Fry’s. Approximately 8in X 8in. Trimmed to the size of the build plate worked better for me.

In addition to the blue tape I use glue sticks. Instead of just applying it randomly to the glass build plate, I form, what I think is an ample amount, then smooth it out with isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol will dry leaving a slightly tacky surface. This is my preferred method and will produce mirror like finish. (Kapton tape and glue method works well too) . I found similar sized sheets of kapton at Fry’s. But I guess you could source this anywhere.

There is one other method I have not tried. It involves using 3M adhesive backed paper and PEI sheet. The PEI sheet was a little more costly than I wanted, and besides I was getting pretty good results. But the PEI sheet had good reviews when I was researching this. I’m sure a lot better methods have been tried since then.

Good luck, and I hope someone else chimes in with other methods.

(Yuan LIU) #3

@Michael_Coley Thanks for sharing! What is the time (and effort) like when you do glue stick, especially if you also apply isopropyl alcohol?

Even though compared with actual build time the time spent on prep is small, I find this part the most testing for my patience (or the lack thereof). If hairspray forms a pool, it takes like 20 minutes to dry naturally. (Or till I can trust that hot end will not “sizzle” below the surface.) No wait after application is the point where glue stick has advantage. When I first heard of hairspray, I imagined that the layer should be damp like glue stick. But I notice that the bottom layer often forms weird if hairspray is not totally dry. Even with glue stick, I accidentally found that I didn’t have to fear a little dryness.

(Michael Coley) #4

@Yuan_LIU Sorry for the delay in responding. The process is relatively quick. Once I’ve prepared the bed with glue stick (normal application) I poor a small pool of alcohol in the center. About the size of a quarter. Then, using a small plastic spatula/scraper I start dragging the alcohol around the bed, The glue and alcohol mix quickly. You will find that in most cases the alcohol evaporates really fast leaving a tacky surface.

After each print or two, I just pool the alcohol again and start spreading. You will find there is enough glue to make a fresh bed again.

I’m not saying this is the best method, just a method that is quick and easy for me.

I have not tried the hairspray method yet. I was concerned about build up on other parts of the printer than just the glass bed.

(Yuan LIU) #5

I guess that the amount of alcohol determines the time to evaporate. Hairspray is functionally just glue in alcohol, definitely with more alcohol than in your mix. Do you use 70% or high concentration? I only has the 70% and could give it a try.

These days, I take the glass bed to balcony to spray. When I thought I only needed a touch of spray, I did try to touch-spray a smaller area to cover the actual build area (which is much smaller than the plate), but couldn’t avoid splashes on the printer.

(Michael Coley) #6

I’ve used both concentrations; 70 and 90%. I don’t even recall if there was much of a difference.