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When and How to Use 3D Printed Support Structures

1. What is a Support Structure in 3D Printing?

1) The support structure is the added part that supports the overhanging structure or bridge structure when slicing the model, which needs to be removed after printing. The principle of the FDM printer is to melt and overlay the filament layer by layer. However, due to the influence of gravity, the lower layers cannot bear the weight of the upper layers and may fall.

The Support Structure
Figure 1 The Support Structure

2) According to the 45 degrees principle, if the angle of the overhang structure from the vertical is less than 45 degrees, then you can print without adding support; if the overhang is larger than 45 degrees from the vertical, support structure is required. Therefore, it is necessary to increase the support in time according to the structure and shape of the model to prevent printing failure.

Add support if the overhang angle is larger than 45 degrees

Figure 2 Add support if the overhang angle is larger than 45 degrees

2. When to Add a Support Structure?

1) When the model structure is complex or the model has an irregular structure, all supports need to be added.

2) When the model structure is relatively simple, but there is an overhang structure, bridge structure or hollow structure in a certain part, supports should be added to make the model stable.

Overhang structure and Bridge structure

Figure 2 Overhang structure and Bridge structure

3) When the overall shape is cylindrical, conical or cuboid, and the lower part is relatively large; when the upper and lower widths of the model are the same without hanging parts; or when the model has a very simple structure, supports are not needed.

Simple Structure
Figure 3 Simple Structure

4) According to the structure of the model and your needs, you can add or delete the support of the model in appropriate parts.

3. How to Add A Support Structure in ideaMaker?

1) When you select the slice template, in the Edit Template interface, you can select the type of support. There are three types of support:

None: Do not add support to the model.

Touch Platform Only: Only create the supports which will touch the build platform.

ALL: Add supports to all suspended and overhang structures of the model.

Select the support type when slicing
Figure 4 Select the support type when slicing

2) Or you can click the “Support” tool in the Tool Bar, and then you can automatically or manually add support. You can set support-related parameters in the left menu bar.

Click the "Support" to add support
Figure 5 Click the “Support” to add support

Adjust the pillar size.

Note: Only when the support type is pillar, the pillar size will take effect.

Only when the support type is pillar, the pillar size will take effect
When the pillar size is 1mm
Figure 6 When the pillar size is 1mm
When the pillar size is 10mm
Figure 7 When the pillar size is 10mm
Overhang Angle

The minimum overhang angles. If the real overhang angle is smaller than this value, support will not be generated.

Touch Platform Only

Only create the supports which will touch the build platform.

You can set the "Pillar Size" and "Overhang Angle" first. And try "Create Auto Supports". Then adjust the support with "Manual Supports".
Figure 8 You can set the “Pillar Size” and “Overhang Angle” first. And try “Create Auto Supports”. Then adjust the support with “Manual Supports”.
Detect Small Floated Features

With this function enabled, ideaMaker will automatically detect and preserve smaller details in the model that are not connected to the build surface and produce the appropriate support structure.

Unable the Function of "Detect Small Floated Features"
Figure 9 Unable the Function of “Detect Small Floated Features”
Enable the function of "Detect Small Floated Features"
Figure 10 Enable the function of “Detect Small Floated Features”
Check Thin Wall

With this function enabled, ideaMaker will automatically create travel moves or spurious points when the model is a thin wall structure. If not, ideaMaker will not detect thin wall structures, and won’t generate support structures.

Manual Supports

With this function enabled, ideaMaker will automatically create travel moves or spurious points when the model is a thin wall structure. If not, ideaMaker will not detect thin wall structures, and won’t generate support structures.

4. ideaMaker covers many settings related to support in the advanced settings of the slice template.

1) Import the model to ideaMaker and choose to slice the model. Double-click the slice template to enter the settings, and enter the advanced settings in the Edit Template interface.

Enter the advanced settings of the slice template
Figure 11 Enter the advanced settings of the slice template

2) Select the “Support” tab, where you can set settings such as Support Type, Support Infill Type, Infill Ratio, etc. For more support settings, please refer to ideaMaker User Manual 5.1.3.5. Support.

Support Tab
Figure 12 “Support” Tab

3) Common support settings are as follows:


“Support Extruder” refers to selecting which extruder to print support.

Support Extruder
Figure 13 “Support Extruder

“Support Type” refers to the structure of support. “Normal” refers to the support which is computed based on locality which may cause random hang. “Pillar” refers to the support which is entirety based on

Support Type
Figure 14 “Support Type”

and computed based only pillars.

“Support Infill Type” refers to the infill pattern for the support structure.

Support Infill Type
Figure 15 “Support Infill Type”

“Max Overhang Angle” defines which parts of the model will have support added. Overhang Angle refers to the angle between the overhang surface and Z axis.

Max Overhang Angle 45 Degrees
Max Overhang Angle
Figure 16 “Max Overhang Angle”

“Horizontal Offset” refers to the distance between the support structure and the model parts in X/Y direction.

Horizontal Offset
Figure 17 “Horizontal Offset”

4. For more support settings, please refer to ideaMaker User Manual 5.1.3.5. Support.