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Print Support: How to Set Them Up in ideaMaker

Note: This blog is originally written in Italian by Raise3D’s client 3dingrolab:


Getting to know all the parameters for the best setting of print support in ideaMaker

What the basic parameters of print support mean

As users well know, support is essential in most cases where users need to print cantilevered or suspended walls. Each Slicer manages print support in its own way, so knowing each parameter how and its effect is essential if users want to set them up correctly. In this article users will get to know the individual fundamental parameters and understand their use in ideaMaker.

1 Generate Support

This parameter is the most important one, as it determines where users want the print support to be generated. If “All” is selected, print support will be created between the model and the print plane, but also below all downward-facing horizontal and inclined surfaces of the model. However, if users select only “Touch Platform Only”, only support between the print plane and the model will be generated. If users want to disable support for the entire print, simply select “None”.

2 Extruder Support

This parameter allows users to choose the extruder that will print the support. This function is only available on dual extruder printers, usually allowing support to be printed with soluble materials such as PVA or HIPS, and is intended for objects with complex geometries and high aesthetic standards for all surfaces, even the ones that have support.

3 Type Support

This parameter allows users to select the type of support users want. They can choose between Pillar and Normal. Pillar support alternates the layers of the support, making them more stable in long prints where the risk of them collapsing is high. The Normal type creates blocks that grow in the same way throughout the print.

4 Support Filling Type

In this drop-down menu users can choose from a range of support patterns. Normally, the support Raise3D recommends are the linear ones, because they come off very easily. If the print is very large, users can choose rectangular, because they are more stable once they start growing in the Z-direction.

5 External Support Filling

This feature allows users to add extra walls to the support, effectively reinforcing them. It is recommended to not exaggerate by setting a maximum of one, as this would make the support stronger but also very difficult to detach from the object once printed, especially if users are printing with very strong materials.

6 Extruder Support Filling Contours

If users need to make the supports more robust , external perimeters can be added, as seen in the previous parameter. Since they are more difficult to remove, if users have a double extruder printer, they can choose to print these perimeters with another material, for example a soluble material such as PVA or HIPS, making the removal of the support easier.

7 Filling Percentage

This parameter sets the support density percentage, i.e. how dense users want the support to be, (a bit like the fill percentage). Normally, this tends not to go above 25%, as this may give users a a hard time removing them in post-processing.

8 Maximum Overhang Angle

This value indicates the angle beyond which the printer will no longer be able to properly print overhanging parts that protrude beyond the set value; therefore, it will have to build up the print support. Normally 45 degrees is the limit, as almost all printers can print overhanging surfaces at an angle of less than 45 degrees, but this depends on the printer’s cooling system and the type of material etc.

9 Horizontal Offset

This parameter sets the distance between the walls of our object and the print support, and it is a good idea to set a minimum value that will ensure that the support won’t weld to the model walls and be very difficult to remove. 0.4 mm is an ideal value, and also allows for good surface definition even for walls that protrude increasingly and are not completely overhanging, such as the corner wall highlighted by the magnifying glass in the picture above.

10-11 Upper – Lower Offset Layers

Upper Layer Offset: This setting and the next one are the crucial for the correct setting and removal of support. This value corresponds to the number of layers. First of all, this value determines how many LAYER gaps there should be between the model surface upon the and the first layer of print that will lay upon the surface.

It is essential to leave a gap of at least 0.3-0.4 millimetres between these two. So, for example, if the print has a layer height of 0.2mm and users set an offset of 2 layers here, the gap will be 0.4mm, which is a recommendable clearance. On the other hand, if the layer height of the print is 0.1mm and users set a 2-layer offset here, the gap correspond to two layers, which is 0.2mm, and that cause problems when removing the support after the print is ready.

So always remember to vary this parameter based on the print height at which you wish to print your object.

Upper Layer Offset: This setting is exactly like the one above, with the difference that it affects the lower gap, i.e. for all those supports that start from the surface of the model and are being printed upwards, which then have to be removed, but at the same time must also be firmly fixed on the model and not collapse during printing, so a gap of 0.3mm is normally sufficient. Remember to adjust this value with the layer height of the current print.

12 Flowrate Support

This parameter modifies the flow / extrusion width of the support. It is normally set to 100%. When printing with nozzles larger than 0.4mm, it is advisable to reduce this value, in order to create thinner supports to help save material as well as make their removal easier in post-processing.

13 Horizontal Expansion

This parameter allows users to increase the expansion of X and Y, allowing users to print support that will protrude a specified number of millimetres beyond the surface of the model to be supported. This parameter is useful when certain parts of the model are not supported at certain points, because perhaps the angle at which they are printed or their density is not sufficient for the program to consider them needing support. And so inserting an extra value of even a few millimetres allows users to compensate for this aspect.

14 Layers Interface

This parameter makes it possible to create specific number of interface layers, i.e., base layers that are solely in contact with the build plate before building the support. These layers are usually one or two, allowing the stability of the support to be greater during the printing process.

15 Angle Filling Support

By changing a single value, users can change the angle at which the support lines are to be printed. It can make sense to change it when users note that the lines of the first layer to be supported are not perpendicular to the lines of the support, otherwise our model will not be supported so well, as some lines may fall completely between one pillar of the support and the other. Furthermore, by entering another angle value, it is possible to weave between one layer and another of the support.

16 Pillar Size

This value defines the distance there should be between one support line and the next. Increasing this value will produce wider pillars, saving time and material. On the other hand, it may have an less desirable effect on the aesthetic quality of the surface of the model to be supported. In addition, remember that if users set a very low value, such as 2 millimeters, in the preview during the slicing phase, the size of the pillars generated may not match the defined size, it means that users have to increase the percentage of support filling.

17 Add Support Connection

By ticking this box, users give the Slicer the ability to increase the stability of the supports, connecting each line with the previous one where possible, effectively creating a single structure. Always remember that the more the connections increase, the more the support may stick to the model.

18-19 Generate Support Under Small Suspended Parts

By activating this box, the Slicer will search for small details that would be printed with support and create support for them. With the next parameter, an extra surface to support these small parts is created. It is recommended to keep this setting active.

Expand supports under small suspended parts: This setting is linked to the previous one, as it allows wider support for this type of small protrusions to be to be created. The value is set in millimetres.

20 Search for Support after Boolean Modifier Operation

ideaMaker allows users to perform Boolean operations between meshes, so it is possible to merge them by subtracting them, etc. If, for example, users merge them after inserting the manual supports for the two separate objects, ideaMaker will keep the supports in the same positions as users have placed them, without unifying them as one object.

21 Use Line Filling in High-Density Solid Filling

If users set a support pattern other than linear or rectangular, and set a very high support density, with any other type of pattern, users will not be able to print them at the desired density. Activating this setting replaces the support pattern with the line pattern when setting high-density support.

This blog is shared by Raise3D’s client – 3dingrolab from Italy.