Troubleshooting bed adhesion problems

Bed adhesion or first-layer problems are extremely frustrating. Assuming no hardware problems, there are several likely culprits:


These notes apply to the Prusa i3 Mk3 printer. If you are using a different printer, please verify the hardware details are same. These pages may be a bit rough as I revise them and add new material. Please check back regularly for updates.

  1. Dirty print surface. The PEI print surface works amazingly well, but must be kept clean. Once your printer is initially calibrated, most print shifting and adhesion issues can be resolved with regular cleaning. Refer to the print bed cleaning procedure for details.

  2. Poor “Live-Z” initial nozzle height adjustment. If you’ve never been able to get a good first layer, have changed nozzles or done other major maintenance, your “Live-Z” (the initial gap between the nozzle and print bed) needs to be calibrated.

    • Too high and molten filament won’t “squish” to get a good grip on the surface, resulting in stringy 1st layers. This leads to shifts mid-print.
    • Too low and the nozzle digs into the freshly-laid down filament, causing tears and distorted layers.

Unfortunatley, the on-board 1st layer calibration routine is difficult to use and understand. If your 1st layer isn’t good, there’s no sense trying to print anything more ambitious. Refer to the Live-Z calibration procedure for more details.

Contact and feedback

You can find me on the Prusa forums or Reddit where I lurk in many of the 3D printing-related subreddits.

Last updated on Oct 23, 2018