Image Credit: https://ultimaker.com/
3D support structures play an important role in 3D printing as it allows the printing of complicated and detailed parts of 3d models such as steep overhangs and cantilevered sections. They function very similarly to scaffolding used in the construction of buildings, where it can be removed after printing is completed.
There are two types of 3D support structures available to users, breakable and soluble 3D support structures. The main difference is while the former uses the same material to print the object’s 3D support structures (such as ABS or PLA), the latter uses a different kind of material to build its support structure, such as the commonly used Poly-vinyl Alcohol (PVA). It is an interesting low temperature thermoplastic with the property to dissolve rapidly just by submerging in cold water. Warm water or by gentle stirring can help to speed up the process.
On the other hand, breakable 3D support structures are made up of two major parts, the flat base and the vertical shafts. The base ensures that the shafts that are going to emerge from it remain stable by adhering well to the printing platform. The shafts will be connected to the main object through small points referred to as “teeth” in which can be easily removed by hand or with cutters are printing is done. There are small notches on the sides of the flat base that will ease off the removal of the printed object off the printing platform through the use of a scraper.
To determine whether a 3d model requires 3D support structures when printed and if so, which type to use, it depends on the complexity of the 3d model that is going to be printed. In general, if the model has a steep overhang with at least 45 degrees or more, it will definitely need supports. Normally breakable supports are used since it is cheaper but if you own a printer that has dual extrusion capabilities and a PVA filament ready and you want to print a 3d model that has very complex designs, you can opt for the soluble method. An example of a complex design is where a design would require internal 3D support structures and it would be very difficult to remove them. At Juic3dit, we have workshop to teach our students how to design and model for 3D printing.
By having such knowledge of how 3D support structures work and what it can do, you can produce better quality finishes and opens up more possibilities in the variety of your complex and intricate designs. 3D printing. This is why we have chosen to work with Flashorge printers as they are simple to use, robust, supports soluble filaments and produce quality prints.