The Best Support Settings for 3D Prints
Gravity limits 3D printing, as it does everything else on earth. Despite the incredible capacity to change spindles of plastic into figurines, creative structures, and other amusing things, 3D printers do not print well over the air. All 3D printers that employ fused deposition modelling (FDM) generate items by extruding layers upon layers of thermoplastic material.
As a result, each layer must be supported by the layer underneath it. The model may just require support structures when there isn't a layer behind it. Slicer software can help you solve this problem by adding various 3D supports to your object as it prints. These are produced with the primary model and then removed during post-processing.
Although the use of supports is evident in 3D printing, it is essential to note that there are specific settings to put in place for your 3D support to come out well. This article addresses why you need support and some slicers support settings. Now let’s get right into it.
You should always start with the most conservative parameters while learning about 3D printing. This ensures that the item may be printed without severe complications. As your skills and experience grow, you'll be able to lessen the number and density of supports you employ. The restrictions imposed on overhangs are usually measured in angles (degrees) and distance (millimetres) for bridges. There are a few factors to consider when deciding whether or not you require support structures:
- Overhangs (45° rule): An overhang arises when the drafting angle of a particular section is too large. Support will be required if the overhangs are more than 45 degrees (vertical). You know you need supports at that angle if your printer fails at a specific overhang.
- Bridges (5 mm rule): Bridges are links connecting two points of a piece separated by a specific distance, defined by the 5-mm rule. Some printers can print longer distances, while others struggle. Bridges that are wider than 5 mm may require support.
- Slow print speed: Slower print rates often result in higher-quality prints. Overhangs and bridges look nicer when printed at a quicker pace. You might need to switch on supports to get a lesser overhang angle if you're printing slowly.
Support settings, in general, are slicing software settings that specify specifics such as type of supports, where supports are to be positioned or required, the thickness of the supports to be utilised, the distance of the support from one another, and so on.
These parameters will become increasingly crucial as the intricacy of the object to be produced increases, and they may even be influenced by the 3D printer material used. ABS 3D printers, for example, may require support settings according to the properties of their printing material.
Deciding on the type of support you want plays a significant role in selecting the best support settings. Here are the types of supports you can pick from:
- Lattice Support
The most frequent sort of support is lattice support. They're popular because they're simple to customise, quick to create and work with a wide range of 3D models. The disadvantage is that if the supports are not printed correctly, they might leave markings on the completed object and be challenging to remove. For angular, flat or very steep overhangs, employ lattice supports. If you can't see the "Support Pattern" option under the "support" menu in Cura, make sure your visibility settings are set to "Advanced" or above. in the preview, you may switch between X-Ray and Layer views to see how it appears. Then choose your favourite support pattern from the dropdown menu.
- Tree Supports
Supports in the shape of trees are virtually perfect. For particular forms, tree supports are more effective. As the model's height rises, they branch out towards the bottom of the print to support overhangs. Organic forms benefit the most from tree supports.
These supports may be 3D printed to save printing materials and printing time. Using the "Support Structure" menu in Cura, pick tree support. Before you press "Slice," make sure you position and align the model properly since they might take longer to produce.
- Dissolved Supports
This is a high-quality, specialised alternative to supports made with the same printing material as the model. For example, in a twin extruder printer, one nozzle can print a model in PLA while the other produces all the support material in a water-soluble filament. When the 3D print is finished, just immerse it in water to dissolve the supports, leaving a clean model behind.
Here, we will be discussing Curas support settings. One of the best slicer software to use is Cura. Suppose you have the experience and knowledge to obtain the most outstanding support settings out of Cura for your printing. In that case, the following parameters might be utilised to improve your support structure:
- Structure of support: The Cura parameter that governs the approach utilised in generating the supports is the support structure setting. The standard and tree supports are the two types of methods that can be chosen.
- Activate the support placement: The support placement specifies where the model's support structures will be positioned during printing. This option allows you to choose between two options. The "everywhere" preset directs the deployment of support systems everywhere, whereas the "touching build plate" setting directs the installation of support structures just on the build plate.
- The angle of support for overhang: The Cura software's default support overhang setting is 45 degrees. While adjusting the overhang angle, remember that the lesser the angle is set, the more supports are provided. The lower the level of the setting, on the other hand, the fewer the supports produced.
- Support pattern: The Cura offers a wide range of possibilities, depending on the object produced for supporting patterns. Within Cura, the following support patterns are available; all you have to do is to choose your pattern:
The Zig Zag pattern is the most excellent support design for overhangs, along with the Lines pattern. If you're curious about which support pattern is the easiest to remove, I recommend the Zig Zag since it bends inwards and peels off in pieces. Cura supports that are overly powerful should employ an easy-to-remove support pattern.
- The density of support: Many experts believe that the default option for support density in Cura is 20% and that this is an excellent choice to utilise in printing.
- Z-distance support: The distance between the supports used during printing and the model itself is the support distance. The ease with which the support may be withdrawn is indicated by the distance (clearing). Typically, the layer height equals the default support Z distance in Cura. However, experts recommend that the support Z distance be adjusted to twice the layer height in order to offer enough room for easy support removal.
- Steps for gradual support infill: By regulating the filling of the material in the supports and their density, the progressive support infill steps settings would help define how thick the top and bottom of the support would be.
- Conical support settings: By making the support base narrower than the top, this setting enables less support material to be utilised during the print. Make sure the base isn't so tiny that it doesn't have excellent adherence to the construction plate.
Autodesk Meshmixer is a free program that may create intelligent or tree-like supports. Meshmixer can import.STL or OBJ files exported from Rhino3D or equivalent applications.
- Using Meshmixer to Import a Model
Choose [import] from Meshmixer's main menu and choose your STL file.
- Overhang Analysis
To find out more about overhangs, go to Analysis and then click on “Overhangs.” To begin, we propose a 45-degree angle threshold. The degree to which a printer can print without creating supports is the support angle.
- Generate Supports
Select  to generate support. Obtain Support twice the layer height to offer enough room for easy support removal.
- Individual supports can be deleted by secondary clicking on them
- On Mac: CMD+click
- On Windows: CTRL+click
- Click "Done" to save the supports
- The placement
Under the "Support material" section of the Print Settings tab, check the "Generate support material" box. If you check this option, support structures will be generated on your model anywhere there are overhangs equal to or greater than the default "Overhang threshold." The threshold is given in degrees and can be modified beneath the support checkbox.
You may also regulate support enforcement on PrusaSlicer by selecting one of the choices in the Plater tab's "Supports" drop-down box. You'll find the standard "Everywhere" and "None" settings here, as well as others like "Supports on build plate only" and "For support enforcers only."
- X, Y, Z Support Gap
The "Contact Z distance," "XY separation," and "Interface layers" are three primary variables in PrusaSlicer that affect the X, Y, and Z support gap. Although these options appear to be relatively similar, they affect various parts of the gap distance. The "Support material" area is where you'll find and alter these settings. To begin with, the "Contact Z distance" determines the vertical distance between the support structure and the primary object (i.e. along the Z-axis). This setting is crucial when printing an object with vertically oriented supports, such as those required to hold up a standing 'T' form.
- Pattern Settings
The following setting we'll talk about is the support structure placement pattern. The "Pattern" setting can be found alongside the other support settings in the "Support material" section.
The speed for printing your support material is the next support parameter you may change in PrusaSlicer, and it can be found under the Speed settings section. The default speed for "Support material" is 40 mm/s. However, you may alter it to anything you like. However, we recommend keeping it not faster than your infill print speed, as supports must be created with care to serve their role.
- Finish Up
Click on “Done” if you’ve gotten your desired support pattern.
Using supports in 3D printing is essential for beginners just starting. If you are a professional, you might choose not to use support. This article has provided an excellent guide for beginners using three slicer programs for support settings.