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3D Printing Support – Helping Out

3D Printing Support

3D printing support is very useful on complex parts.

Sometimes we push the envelope trying to print complex challenging parts out of plastic. The picture above shows a gantry bracket for my Mostly Printed CNC. Two things to note. First, the part contains a lot of holes which need to be sized right to attach bearings and bolts. Second, the left section of the part has to be at a different vertical level than the right section.

In the old days (say, two years ago) printing this part would have been very difficult, if not impossible. Probably, it would have been done in two halves that would be joined together and lose strength. Advances in slicer software now make the creation of “3D printing support” a piece of cake.

Two types of temporary support structures are shown in the picture. The first is on the lower left side – a vertical wall that creates a temporary table to print the higher section of the part. It looks like an accordion shape. The neat thing is that after providing 3D printing support for the higher section, the support just comes off in your hand.

The second type of support is the infill produced inside each of the holes. This is some loosely formed plastic that holds the perimeter of the hole nicely in place. This type of 3D printing support is harder to remove. I use a small pair of needle nosed pliers to break it apart and pull it out.

3D Printing Support is automatic or manual

Usually, the 3D printing support is created automatically if requested. The slicer software figures out where it is needed and adds it to the code for printing the model. Some slider software, such as Simplify3D provides the option to edit or remove support if you don’t think it is really necessary.

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