Tools You Need for Support Removal in 3D Printing
Support is required for several 3D printing methods. Some models with overhanging components need a support structure because we can’t print into thin air. Well, the rules of physics and gravity also apply to 3D printing. Then after making your desired prints, you will have to remove the support to isolate your print.
Support removal can be time-consuming, untidy, and even dangerous in some situations. Accidentally breaking into your model after spending many hours printing it is the worst thing you can do. Most 3D printing enthusiasts have excellent professional tools in their 3D printing toolboxes to make support removal easy and seamless.
This article highlights some of the best tools you can get to remove supports easily. They include the following:
- X-Acto Knife
The X-Acto knife is a highly regarded, lightweight tool that is ideal for delicate, precision cutting, stripping, and trimming. It cuts through plastic, thin metal, balsa, paper, acetate, film, and cloth with ease. The blade is solid metal with an aluminum handle and is coated in Zirconium Nitride for durability.
With X-Acto knives, you can easily clip away the little pieces that connect the support structure and your 3D printed objects. The main disadvantage is that they are sharp, and one slip can result in an injury or a scratch in your 3D print.
- Flush Cutter
Flush cutters are helpful tools in 3D printing, particularly for cleanly snipping away supports to get a great finish. A spring holds the cutters open, making one-handed operation possible. The snipping tool is commonly included with most 3D printers. The one that comes with your printer isn't always of the best quality, so you may need to upgrade to a higher quality one. The problem with cheap, low-quality flush cutters is that they tend to cause bends and nicks in the material. So, do well to invest in good ones.
- Needle nose pliers
Long-nose or needle-nose pliers can be used for a variety of activities. They have long, slender jaws with a pointed tip. Apart from being useful for removing jammed filaments from the extruder, needle nose pliers are also useful for prying, gripping, and removing support structures. They are primarily utilized for support that may be broken away as opposed to those that require cutting. As a result, while this is an excellent tool for working quickly, it is less ideal for pieces that require fine control.
To make the support removal process easier, you can decide to heat the blade you intend to use or even the model. This will soften the support structure, making it easier to come off. A tiny butane torch is usually used for heating. This method is adopted by a lot of people but you must be extremely cautious for the benefit of both yourself and your model.
Tips for Easy Support Removal
- Use the 45-degree rule to determine when and where support is required. Even a 10% reduction in the number of supports is a gain.
- By adhering to the 45-degree rule, you also limit the scope of what you can build. If you need to create intricate designs and have the choice of printing your supports with soluble filament, by all means, do so. You can easily remove the support by simply submerging your finished print in the right solvent. It requires almost no effort and is less likely to damage your print.
- Select the best Z-distance and XY-distance slicer settings, large enough to facilitate support removal but not so large that the model is no longer supported.
Support removal can be a time-consuming and difficult process in 3D printing. It cannot be avoided completely, but you can make it easier by using the appropriate tools. It also helps to have the proper slicer settings for easy support removal.