Support structures for 3D printing are elements of a 3D printed model that give support beneath long protruding regions, as the name implies. Without the necessary support mechanisms, these protruding or free-standing parts would be prone to warping, drooping, stringing, inaccurate printing, and even total collapse during the printing process.
To put it another way, there are two types of these elements:
1) Overhangs: 3D design elements that protrude from the rest of the structure.
2) Bridges: two points of a 3D printed object are connected by horizontally hung lines or a sequence of lines.
Removal of support structures after 3D printing
Support structures can either be “Breakaway” or “soluble”. Whether the support structure is a Breakaway type or a soluble filament, the removal method is different.
Soluble support structures
PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) and Hydrofill can be used as soluble support structures for PLA. Soluble structures are made from filaments that can be dissolved in a chemical bath after printing to keep the core structure intact. High impact polystyrene can be used, although it is a complex material because of its higher printing temperature than PLA.
Breakaway support structures
These constructions can be constructed using the same materials as the rest of the structure. In our case, PLA is a material of comparable strength that does not attach excessively to the primary material. Only a double (or higher) extrusion 3D printer allows for such a mix of materials. PETG is a good choice for Breakaway support material with PLA based on double-extrusion.
How to Remove Breakaway Support structures?
Breakaway support structures are 3D printed with a lower density than the main build, lower in-fill percentage and thinner perimeters and walls than the primary construct. As a result, they can be readily removed from the 3D print by delicately tugging them off by hand or with needle-nose pliers and dental picks or tweezers for harder-to-remove supports. It’s important not to cut or remove the support structures too near the central system. Instead, some support material can be left on the 3D printed object at this point.
PLA works best with clear nail polish topcoat/varnish for minor holes. Alternatively, epoxy resin can also be used. If the gaps are more significant, a good auto-body filler for plastics, such as JB weld plastic weld, should be used.
How to Remove Soluble Support structures?
Soluble Support structures are created with unique materials meant to dissolve away while leaving the leading print intact, and they can only be utilized with double extrusion 3D printer models. In other circumstances, the essential support system grows so complicated that manually eliminating it would be impossible, or at the very least, extremely inefficient and time-consuming.
The PLA structure should be warmed with warm water after the support material has wholly dissolved to remove any support residue. Both PVA and Hydrofill can be used to make PLA, and both of these materials are water-soluble. As a result, all required is for the 3D printed object to be submerged in lukewarm water for the supports to dissolve and the PLA structure to remain intact. An ultrasonic chamber can be utilized to speed up the dissolution process.
Suppose any gaps or holes appear due to support material leaking onto the primary construct from the hot-end of the support material extrude. In that case, these should be addressed using standard post-processing techniques.
Requirements Of Support in 3D Printing
Regardless of how we look at it, we’d all want to avoid using support materials entirely under ideal situations. They incur additional costs due to squandered materials and time, which holds throughout both printing and post-processing.
On the other hand, support materials are not a necessary by-product of 3D printing, and they’re a must-have for intricate designs. To eliminate the requirement for support structures, 3D printers should use creative techniques such as many pieces and orientationally optimized models.
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