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Support in 3d Printing

Updated: Mar 16

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.

Fusible

Supporting materials from this category are remarkable in that they melt at low temperatures - from +60 to +100˚C. This simplifies their removal - after printing, the part is blown with a hair dryer or heated in an oven, after which the support melts and is removed without damaging the base. The use of fusible support opens up the possibility of manufacturing complex models from a large number of small parts and components. The use of fusible support materials in 3D printing comes with many benefits: Easy removal of the support without the risk of breakage of the product.

Soluble

Such compounds can dissolve in ordinary water or in unique chemical solutions. This includes both water-soluble PVA plastic and gel support materials. To remove support, the finished product is immersed in an environment that is aggressive for support and left for a period of 30 to 120 minutes.

As a result, only the model remains, which is not affected by the environment. This technique is used in SLA, SLS, FDM, and MJM technologies.


Powder

Such support is not used as often as the types listed above. Mainly - in the technology of laser sintering SLS and DMLS. In this case, the powder acts as the frame of the future product. Under the influence of a laser, the powder solidifies in the desired shape. After the end of 3D printing, the part is removed from the powder medium, and the remains of the composition are reused. This reduces the cost of the printing process.



Is it possible to do without the use of support?


If we are talking about printing simple parts having a simple structure and being lightweight, then you can avoid using supporting materials.Not every 3D print requires supports, so keep this in mind while creating a model. Knowing how to prevent them is an important feature of support since they lead to waste and can harm the surface of your printed object. First, if your design has overhangs, you must determine their tilt. Most FDM printers will be able to produce overhangs that are not tilted more than 45°. Angles that surpass this amount, on the other hand, may necessitate the usage of supports, or your overhangs may droop.In other cases, their use is highly recommended. Even though this increases the cost of manufactured products, along with the price, the quality also increases. The risk of the product being deformed during the printing process is also reduced. When manufacturing or ordering 3D printed models with support, one must be aware that roughness can be observed at the points of contact between the support and the part. For optimum results, these areas are ground and polished. This takes more time and money but improves quality.



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