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A Sticky Situation

What’s the Best Glue Stick for 3D Printing?

Picture of Jacob Greenburg
by Jacob Greenburg
Jul 31, 2019
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Glue sticks are commonly used in 3D printing to help prints adhere to the print bed. Follow us as we go through a list of many of the popular brands of glue sticks and how they can help you get a grip.

Glue Stick for 3D Printing Adhesion Is Key

A 3D Print That Didn't Stick With it.
A 3D Print That Didn't Stick With it. Source: u/Woodkand / Reddit.com

Ask anyone, and you’ll find that a quality print means quality print bed adhesion. Poor adhesion can lead to print wobble, creep, or worse. There are many methods to ensure your print sticks, including proprietary build surfaces, painters’ tape, Kapton tape, and glass. Even with all these different methods, though, one of the simplest and most commonly used is the unassuming glue stick.

Here are a few advantages of using a glue stick compared to other methods:

  • Easy Cleanup
    • Many glue sticks are water-soluble, making for a quick and easy cleanup.
    • Using tape can leave a residue, making it a challenge to remove and replace.
  • Easy Application
    • Unlike sprays, glue sticks are applied directly preventing sticky overspray.
    • A tape can be a challenge to align and apply properly.
  • Easy Print Removal
    • Unlike some build-tech surfaces, glue sticks cause models to pop off when the print bed cools down – convenient.
    • Use of some filament types, like PETG, can cause permanent adhesion to glass. Glue sticks prevent this.

In the following, we’ll review a number of popular choices for glue sticks.

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1

Glue Stick for 3D Printing Elmer's Disappearing Purple Glue Stick

Thanks to its color, it's easy to see where Elmer's has been applied
Thanks to its color, it's easy to see where Elmer's has been applied. Source: SuperSport1966 / YouTube

Who makes it?

One of the most prolific glue manufacturers around, Elmer’s has been formulating new glues for over 65 years. One of the most notable industries that they support is general education and schools.

What makes it suitable for 3D printing?

This glue stick makes it to the top of the list for the color-changing effect that it has – it applies purple and then changes to clear once it dries. This is a serious help when it comes to ensuring effective coverage of your print bed. Furthermore, it’s harder consistency makes it easy to apply a thin coat.

Where can I find it?

You can see these in schools all across the United States and find their glue sticks in almost any market. In addition, the product is available through most online retailers.

Elmer’s Disappearing Purple Glue Stick

Product image of Elmer’s Disappearing Purple Glue Stick
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2

Glue Stick for 3D Printing UHU Stic

UHU Stic is soft and easy to apply.
UHU Stic is soft and easy to apply. Source: OMGHOWCHEAP / Etsy.com

Who makes it?

UHU created the first batch of their famous all-purpose glue in 1931. It is made and owned by the German brand UHU as a part of the larger Bolton Adhesives company. Their glue is on the market as a general-purpose glue, useful for paper, cardboard, foams, and surprisingly, 3D printing.

What makes it suitable for 3D printing?

One can count on a smooth application due to the soft consistency of this glue stick. Further, the grip gives you an accurate way to adjust the amount of glue exposed, and a convenient screw top lid ensures your glue will never dry out.

Where can I find it?

You’ll have a difficult time finding these in your typical supermarket in the United States. However, UHU is sold internationally online and has been especially popular in Australia.

UHU Stic

Product image of UHU Glue Stick
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Glue Stick for 3D Printing Magigoo

Magigoo is specially formulated for 3D printing convenience.
Magigoo is specially formulated for 3D printing convenience. Source: 3DJake.com

Who makes it?

Produced by the start-up Thought3D, Magigoo is a specially formulated adhesive intended for direct use in 3D printing. After several revisions, including a glue stick form, their current offerings is a liquid in a stick deposited through a felt membrane. While the current version is not technically a glue stick in its traditional sense, the stick applicator is popular in the 3D printing community.

What makes it suitable for 3D printing?

Designed specifically for 3D printing, the consistency of the liquid is just right, applying incredibly smoothly. Also, since it’s for 3D printing, the glue deactivates once the heated print bed is cooled. The releasing action makes it a breeze to remove your 3D printed model once the job is done.

Where can I find it?

You can obtain this product internationally via various online stores, including Magigoo’s very own website. Since the company’s product is for 3D printing, they commonly partner with various filament vendors to make access to their product easy.

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Glue Stick for 3D Printing Scotch Purple Glue Stick

Another member of Club Purple.
Another member of Club Purple. Source: IndiaMart

Who makes it?

Scotch, a 3M brand, is well known for the transparent sticky tape first offered in the 1930s. Scotch is one of the leaders of the industry making tapes, glues, decorative items, and much more. Their brand is so popular, it has become a household name in the United States and even generic clear tape bears the name of “Scotch tape”.

What makes it suitable for 3D Printing?

Similar to other glue sticks, this one applies easily, as it has more of a firm consistency. The added bonus is that similar to Elmer’s glue stick offering, this one applies purple and dries clear making it easier to tell if you missed a spot. Clean up and reconditioning of a glass 3D print bed is a breeze with simple soap and water.

Where can I find it?

Mostly found at craft stores in the United States, this one is harder to find than your typical Elmer’s glue. But it is widely available through online retailers.

Scotch Purple Glue Stick

Product image of Scotch Purple Glue Stick
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Glue Stick for 3D Printing A Sticky Conclusion

Always have backup sticks, because they can be key to a successful print.
Always have backup sticks, because they can be key to a successful print. Source: Geeetech.com

Of all the different bed adhesion techniques out there, none is as clean and easy to use as the glue stick method. If you’re looking for some help deciding which glue stick brand to use, we hope you found this article a pleasure to browse.

As always, happy printing!

Feature image source: ohai.lulzbot.com

License: The text of "What’s the Best Glue Stick for 3D Printing?" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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