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Support in 3d Printing

Updated: Jan 5

The Filamently way of Supporting


Everyone who has experienced 3D printing understands that printing is impossible without the use of supports. Someone has already learned how to set up supports, someone fights with them more than prints, someone thinks that they have already made friends with supports, but at the same time, after each print, they spend more than an hour deleting them. But there is only one thing that unites everyone: support is inevitable. If you have just started printing, if you are still unable to find the optimal settings for printing supports, or you are simply interested in reading any information about 3D printing, then this article is for you! Support is inevitable. If you have just started printing, if you are still unable to find the optimal settings for printing supports, or you are simply interested in reading any information about 3D printing, then this article is for you! Support is inevitable. If you have just started 3d printing, if you are still unable to find the optimal settings for printing supports, or you are simply interested in reading any information about 3D printing, then this article is for you! Support is inevitable. If you have just started 3d printing, if you are still unable to find the optimal settings for printing supports, or you are simply interested in reading any information about 3D printing, then this article is for you! Support is inevitable. If you have just started 3d printing, if you are still unable to find the optimal settings for printing supports, or you are simply interested in reading any information about 3D printing, then this article is for you! Support is inevitable. If you have just started 3d printing, if you are still unable to find the optimal settings for printing supports, or you are simply interested in reading any information about 3D printing, then this article is for you!support is inevitable. If you have just started 3d printing, if you are still unable to find the optimal settings for printing supports, or you are simply interested in reading any information about 3D printing, then this article is for you!


Let's start with the theory, what and why do we need support?


3D printing has such a thing as layer-by-layer model building. That is, the model is built in layers following one after another. And if we have a fairly simple form in which all layers are located strictly above each other, then we can refrain from using supports. But if you print not only rectangles and cylinders, then supports will come in handy. A vivid example can be seen in the picture. If we have a plane that is at a certain height. Without support, the printer will try to print this plane over Wi-fi, that is, right in the air. And I want to note that while printers print in the air this is not the strongest side, and everything that the printer prints in the air ends up on the bottom of your model or just on the table. In the best case, the printer will try to continue printing, and with each layer it will build up a ladder, and be able to print at the desired distance. Or it may be that all your printing will be completely broken and it will have to be stopped.



Support in 3d Printing


Everyone who has experienced 3D printing understands that printing is impossible without the use of support. Someone has already learned how to set up supports, someone fights with them more than prints, someone thinks that they have already made friends with supports, but at the same time, after each print, they spend more than an hour deleting them. But there is only one thing that unites everyone: support is inevitable. If you have just started printing, and are unable to find the optimal settings for printing supports, or you are simply interested in reading any information about 3D printing, then this article is for you!


Let's start with the theory, what and why do we need support?


3D printing has such a thing as layer-by-layer model building. That is, the model is built in layers following one after another. And if we have a fairly simple form in which all layers are located strictly above each other, then we can refrain from using supports. But if you print only rectangles and cylinders, then supports will come in handy. A vivid example can be seen in the picture. If we have a plane at an angle above 60 deg then its certain to have support from this height.


Without support, the printer will try to print this plane over Wi-fi, that is, right in the air. And I want to note that while printers print in the air this is not the strongest side and everything that the printer prints in the air ends up on the bottom of your model or just on the table. In the best case, the printer will try to continue printing, and with each layer, it will build up a ladder, with which it will be able to print at the desired distance. Or it may be that all your printing will be completely broken and it will have to be stopped.



Support types.

Let's conditionally divide the types of supports into several categories. To begin with, they can be divided into 2 large groups: soluble and insoluble. Soluble supports are printed with a material different from the base material and can be dissolved in any liquid. The most popular soluble support materials are PVA and HIPS.


  1. The first material PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) is water-soluble, to increase the dissolution rate of supports, water can be heated, and the model can also be immersed in an ultrasonic cleaner. PVA works amazingly with PLA plastic. HIPS can also be a support material for ABS plastic. HIPS dissolves in Limonene. This chemical dissolves HIPS perfectly but does not affect ABS plastic in any way.

  2. The second large group has insoluble supports and is most often printed with the same material as the main model. Also, if you own a dual-extruder printer, you can use a higher quality plastic for printing the main model, a cheaper one, or the remnants of any old plastic for printing supports.


Well, it's safe to say that printing with water-soluble supports will make life easier for you when removing supports, as well as improve the quality of overhanging surfaces. However, you will need a dual-extruder printer, which is more expensive, and you will also need to calibrate and set up the dual-extruder print first, which sometimes also takes a lot of time.


Printing supports and the main model with one material is easier, any printer can handle it, but to achieve maximum print quality, you will have to tinker with the support settings in the slicer. Also, removing supports from a complex part can be not the most pleasant thing, and even damage the model. Some models cannot be printed without soluble supports, but this is rather an exception to the rules and marketing ploy of some companies that produce dual extruder printers.

Modern 3D printing uses different types of support materials. Basically, they differ from each other in composition. Method of removal from an already printed product. Let's take a closer look below.

Destructible

Such support materials are used primarily in printing technologies such as FDM and SLS. Destructible structures are further divided into two subcategories according to such a feature as the strength of the composition:


Durability is like the model.

This is a budget-friendly and easy-to-implement option since the same material is used from which the three-dimensional model is made. After the printing is completed, it is only necessary to remove the support mechanically, then carefully sand the support attachment points.


Strength is less than that of the model.


In this case, a material is more fragile than the composition from which the product is made. For example, ABS plastic is taken for the base, while PLA plastic is used for support. It is easier to remove support after printing is finished, but more support funds will be required.


The use of destructible supports causes additional difficulties. After printing is completed, the support must be mechanically removed. If this is not done carefully, there is a risk of damage to the main product. When printing models with cavities, the support cannot be removed at all, which is why it increases the mass of the workpiece.