3D Printing 101: Supports
We’ve talked about supports in previous blog posts, but we want to give a more in-depth explanation of the types of supports, the default supports on the store, and the ways you can use supports to salvage an otherwise un-printable design.
Supports do exactly what you’d guess: support the print. They’re useful when you have a tricky overhang or angle because they’ll create a post for your print to rest on. Think of supports like the foundation and towers of a bridge. Without them, the bridge would collapse. Without supports, some prints will collapse.
When printing a design from the New Matter Store, you won’t need to worry about supports. We’ve tested every product and have added supports as a default if they’re necessary. However, if you’d like to print your own design or a design you’ve found elsewhere, read on to learn about supports, when to use them, and how to apply them!
There are two major categories of supports. One supports the print’s base layer (and can be found in Cura under “Platform Adhesion Type.”) The other supports tricky angles (and is just listed in Cura as “Support Type.”) You can use Cura on models you’ve designed or found online. Check out this blog post to learn how to download, setup, and use Cura.
With both types of supports, you should be able to detach excess material using your fingers, tweezers, or the clippers included with your MOD-t. Sometimes, supports will leave stubble or rough edges. You can clip away this material using cuticle clippers and can smooth out your prints using sandpaper. (Note: Sanding can sometimes alter the color of your print.)
The most common support just a general support. These are the supports that help your print build tricky angles and overhangs. When using an advanced slicer, you can choose where to put these supports, either everywhere or just touching the buildplate. When you add supports on the New Matter Store, you only have the option of putting them everywhere.
Supports that are only touching the buildplate (applied by selecting “Touching buildplate” in the “Support Type”drop-down menu on Cura) provide less structural support, but are easier to remove. A great time to use these supports is when you have overhangs and tricky angles toward the bottom of a design, but do not wish to plug up holes, hollow spaces, or arches in the rest of the design.
The supports found in the New Matter Store are everywhere. (They can also applied by selecting “Everywhere” in the “Support Type” drop-down menu on Cura.) These supports are the most conservative but can be difficult to remove. These are great for prints that have tricky angles and overhangs that occur toward the top of the print. As mentioned before, allowing for supports everywhere will fill holes and hollows when it might not be necessary. This can be frustrating when a design has hole-like details, but is also very helpful when these holes are extreme enough that they could cause a print to fail.
Platform Adhesion Supports
Even if you follow the steps provided in the Build Plate Maintenance blog post, some designs will not stick to a build plate easily. These designs tend to have thin, narrow, or virtually non-existent bottom layers. These designs benefit from added platform adhesion help.
The New Matter Store does not yet allow for the addition of these supports, but you can access them through the Supports category of Cura. Review the articles provided above to learn how to use Cura and how to access these settings.
When to Use Supports
As you grow accustomed to designing your own models or editing models you find online, you’ll learn when to use supports and what kind to use. You’ll notice the designs that could benefit from platform adhesion assistance and which models have overhangs that need help. If you’re unsure if a model needs supports, you can check out the angles. Angles greater than 60 or 70 degrees could benefit from using supports. It’s better to play it safe with supports. Even if you turn supports on through the New Matter Store, supports will only print if an angle greater than 60 degrees is present in a design. To learn more about situations that require supports, check out this blog post on ensuring print success on the MOD-t
What models have you printed with supports? Share them with us through social media using #MadeWithMOD-t