3D print sticking techniques: Hairspray

Extra hold or old wives’ tale?

One of the less conventional (and messier) ways to help your models stay stuck to your build plate is the use of hairspray.

In this review, we take a look at just how effective using hairspray is and compare a number of different brands to see if there is any real difference between the higher quality brands and the cheaper options available.

What type to get?

The products that I have been using for this test are a few commonly found hairsprays. They are not the ‘styling mist’ fancy stuff, they are just good old-fashioned hairsprays. This is the stuff for big, old school, 80’s mega hair!

 

How is it used?

Using hairspray to add an extra layer of ‘stickiness’ to your build plate is a quick and easy process. Before you send your model to be printed, use the hairspray to dust over the build plate, spraying a little at a time. It’s best to add more hairspray by adding layers if needed and much easier than removing excess if you add too much.

You don’t want to go crazy adding layer after layer (you’re not trying to weld your model down), the idea is just to give your printer a little extra help holding your models in place. Check if you have enough by lightly touching the build plate’s surface (be careful if you are pre-heating). If you feel the surface is tacky to the touch, then you’re good to go.

 

A word of warning.

Using hairspray to help your printer along is all well and good, but it’s not a substitute for a properly calibrated printer. Make sure everything that can be calibrated is calibrated before looking to use these techniques.

Using a lot of hairspray regularly and without care can damage your printer. Be sure to properly shield any internal parts of your printer other than the build plate. Remember, you are spraying a sticky glue-like material onto your printer, so if you are not careful and just spray all over the place, your printer will get covered in it and could ultimately ruin its accuracy or even fail completely.

 

The contestants.

The three hairsprays that I used are Tresemme, Salon Grafix, and John Frieda.  I chose these three brands simply because they were the only ones available at my local store in small travel sizes. This is the perfect size for easily getting into your 3D printer without knocking or banging anything around and fits nicely in my tool box.

HairSpray_Main

The test.

One of the objects that I’ve found notoriously difficult to print without warping has been an iPhone case. With a large flat base sitting on the print bed, it’s the perfect candidate for giving me warping issues.

Before sending the model to print, I lightly spayed the print bed with hairspray. I only put on a thin layer to give the printer a little help in keeping my model firmly stuck down on the print bed.

Each hairspray was applied to a clean build plate to insure they were judged on their own merit.

 

The results.

To be honest, I saw very little variation in the effectiveness of each spray. All of the products certainly helped my prints to remain stuck to the build plate and were easy and simple to use.

Likewise, all the hairsprays tested were a pain to clean up. Adding and removing hairspray is a messy process, and honestly one that I won’t be using regularly. In the future this will be a last resort option for me when combating warping prints.

The things that stuck out for me were the user’s experience and personal preference.

For example, I like Salon Grafix because it has the least odor when spraying. If you’re planning to use hairspray with your 3D printer in a small or not brilliantly ventilated place, this could be an important deciding factor.

Another thing that stood out was the look of each product. Salon Grafix stands out again for me here as it’s labeling looks very simple and not particularly hairspray-like. It’s almost scientific-looking and looks much better in my tool kit. Completely superficial, I know, but why not do it with style! 🙂

Whichever product you choose, I think it’s important to see the hairspray technique as a ‘little extra help’ now and then and not a long term strategy for better prints. Personally, the mess of excess hairspray that could build up over time is too big a risk for me, so I’ll be using it in emergencies only.

 

Have you tried using hairspray to help your prints? Got another tip for preventing prints from warping? Let us know what works for you in the comments below.