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Best Glue Stick for 3D Printing: Expert Tips

The first layer of a 3D print is the foundation for the entire object. Achieving proper bed adhesion ensures that the initial layer sticks firmly to the print bed, reducing the chances of print failure or warping. Glue sticks offer a practical solution to enhance bed adhesion, especially when working with materials that tend to detach from the build plate.

Different glue sticks may be required depending on the printer, material, and build surface used. Therefore, understanding the characteristics of glue products is important to match them with the appropriate printing application. 

This article examines the top contenders for the best glue stick for 3D printing, comparing their specifications and benefits. By examining their unique features and evaluating their performance in various printing contexts, we aim to provide a comprehensive guide that helps users make informed decisions about the best materials for their 3D printing projects. 

Understanding 3D Printing Adhesion

Importance of First-Layer Adhesion

A strong bond between the first layer and the build plate is essential for maintaining the model's stability. Weak adhesion can result in warped parts, detached printed objects, or a failed print.

To achieve optimal first-layer adhesion, attention should be placed on the build surfacebed temperature, and printing speed

Build Surfaces and Adhesives

Adhesive materials and the build surface facilitate proper adhesion in 3D printing. Here's a brief comparison of some of the most common options:

Build Surface





Smooth, flat surface typically coated with adhesive

Easy to clean, durable, provides a smooth finish

Sometimes tricky to remove prints, requires adhesive



A popular plastic-based bed material

Offers good adhesion for many materials, reusable

May require higher bed temperatures, damage occurs if used improperly

Besides the build surface, 3D printer operators often use various adhesive solutions for bed adhesion. Common bed adhesives include:

  1. Glue stick: A popular and easy-to-use adhesive applied directly to the build surface. Provides a reliable bond. Excess glue can be easily washed off with water.

  2. Hairspray: Typically used with glass build plates. Hairspray provides a strong bond and is easy to clean off. However, it can be messy due to overspray. It also must be reapplied frequently.

  3. Painter's tape: Offers good adhesion for a wide range of materials. It is relatively affordable and easy to apply. 

  4. ABS slurry: A mixture of ABS filament and acetone, ABS slurry is commonly used with ABS prints on glass surfaces. It offers excellent adhesion, but the preparation and application process can be time-consuming.

Types of Glue Sticks for 3D Printing

Comparing Normal Glue Stick to Specialized Options

Two main types of glue sticks are commonly used for 3D printing: normal glue sticks and specialized glue sticks.

Normal glue sticks are everyday adhesives found in most office supply stores. They are typically inexpensive, readily available, and work well for a variety of applications. However, they may not always provide the best adhesion for 3D printing, as they are not specifically designed for this purpose. Nevertheless, they can still be used effectively with proper application techniques.

On the other hand, specialized glue sticks are specifically formulated for 3D printing applications. These glue sticks provide stronger adhesion and work effectively with various hard-to-print materials. Although slightly more expensive, their enhanced performance offsets the additional cost.

Pros and Cons of Different Types of Glue Sticks

Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of glue sticks is necessary in selecting the best option for your 3D printing needs.




Normal Glue Stick

- Inexpensive

- Readily available

- Multipurpose

- Not specifically designed for 3D printing

Specialized Glue Stick

- Strong adhesion

- Designed for 3D printing materials

- Slightly more expensive

- Limited useability

While normal glue sticks are easily accessible and can be used for a range of applications, they often lack the adhesive power needed for certain 3D prints. Normal glue sticks can still be effective when applied correctly.

In contrast, specialized glue sticks offer stronger adhesion and are explicitly designed for 3D printing. Although pricier, they offer a more reliable bond for challenging materials.

Understanding the differences between normal and specialized glue sticks can help you decide on material selection. The best option ultimately depends on your specific 3D printing requirements, budget, and personal preferences.

The Best Glue Sticks for Different Printing Materials

The choice of glue stick largely depends on the filament material you use for your print. This section will discuss the best glue sticks for PLA, ABS, and PETG prints.

Choosing Glue Sticks for PLA Prints

PLA is one of the most commonly used materials in 3D printing. The best glue sticks for PLA are:

  • Elmer's Disappearing Purple: This sturdy, water-soluble glue stick provides firm adhesion while allowing for easy clean-up. It dries clear, making it easier to see the print surface.

  • Pritt Stick: Pritt Stick is another popular choice for PLA prints. Known for its strong bond, it offers smooth application and long-lasting adhesion.

Consider these properties when selecting a glue stick for PLA prints:

  1. Adhesion: The glue stick should provide sufficient adhesion to prevent warping or detachment during the printing process.
  2. Ease of application: The glue should be easy to apply and spread evenly on the print bed.
  3. Clean-up: Choose a glue stick that is easy to clean up after the print is complete.

Selecting Glue Sticks for ABS and PETG Prints

ABS and PETG prints, known for their durability and heat resistance, require a glue stick with similar properties to ensure a successful print. Some of the recommended glue sticks for ABS and PETG are:

  • Methylene blue dye: A durable option that provides excellent adhesion and works well with ABS prints. Mix methylene blue powder with a standard glue stick to create the dye.

  • ABS slurry: This custom solution is created by mixing ABS scraps with acetone. This mixture forms a thick slurry that can be applied to the print bed for enhanced adhesion. However, ABS slurry may not be suitable for PETG prints.

Properties to look for when selecting a glue stick for PLA prints:

  1. Adhesion: Look for a glue stick that provides strong adhesion without compromising the quality of the print.
  2. Compatibility: Verify that the glue stick is compatible with ABS and PETG printing materials.
  3. Bed surface: Consider the type of bed surface you are using. Some glue sticks may not work well with materials like glass or plastic.

Selecting the best glue stick for your 3D printer and printing material can significantly impact the final print. Take the time to evaluate the options available to ensure your projects' success.

Application Techniques for Effective Adhesion

Proper Application of Glue Sticks

To achieve strong adhesion and good results, glue sticks must be correctly applied. Start by applying a small amount of glue directly onto the print bed. Use a disposable tool, such as a plastic spatula or a paper towel, to spread the glue in a thin layer evenly across the surface. This will ensure easy application and prevent excess glue buildup, which can cause poor adhesion and damage to your prints.

Adjusting the bed temperature compliments the gluing process for a successful adhesion. Follow these recommended bed temperatures for your selected filament type:


Bed Temperature (°C)


50 - 60


100 - 110


70 - 80


40 - 50

Using the suggested bed temperatures increases the likelihood of solid adhesion during 3D printing.

Cleaning and Maintenance for Long-Term Success

Proper cleaning and maintenance will help prolong your print bed's life and ensure consistent adhesion performance. Regular cleaning can be done with a paper towel, lint-free cloth, and some isopropyl alcohol to remove glue residue.

For print beds that require a more thorough cleaning, use warm water mixed with a mild detergent. Dry the surface entirely before applying a fresh layer of glue, as excess moisture can negatively affect adhesion.

Maintaining the print bed's cleanliness helps to avoid any potential damage caused by dirt or residue buildup. Additionally, when applying a new layer of glue, wait for the bed temperature to reach the recommended range for your material. This encourages uniform adhesion during printing.

In summary, long-lasting adhesion with glue sticks is achieved through proper application techniques and diligent maintenance.

Real-world Insights and Recommendations

Testimonials from the 3D Printing Community

Many users in the 3D printing community have found success with various glue sticks. One popular option is the Elmer's Disappearing Purple Glue Stick. Users have shared their positive experiences with this product, emphasizing its ease of use and effectiveness in helping prints adhere to the print bed.

"I swear by Elmer's Disappearing Purple Glue Stick for all of my prints. I've had very few print failures since I started using it." - Happy Printing user

Another highly regarded glue stick is the regular Elmer's Glue Stick. This multipurpose glue stick has also received positive feedback from satisfied users in the 3D printing community.

"I've used Elmer's Glue Stick for years now, and I'm happy with the results. It's a great product that provides consistent adhesion without causing damage to my print bed." - 3D Printing Enthusiast

Top-Rated Glue Sticks on the Market

Based on the positive feedback from users and overall ratings, here are our top glue stick recommendations for 3D printing:

  1. Elmer's Disappearing Purple Glue Stick - This glue stick is designed for easy application and clean-up with its unique disappearing purple formula. Many users express their satisfaction with the product's adhesion and ease of use.

  2. Elmer's Glue Stick - The classic Elmer's Glue Stick is an affordable and effective option for 3D printing enthusiasts. Users appreciate its reliability and versatility, backed by its proven track record of successful printing.

These top-rated glue sticks have consistently helped users achieve successful prints while minimizing failures. Choose the glue stick that suits your needs for a productive 3D printing experience.

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