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3DP Service Tech Tips: Smart Support Design for 3D Printing

Here at 3D Platform we take pride in our open-market solutions. Our Service Technician Tips series focuses on best practices for processing procedures from our very own technicians, making sure you get the perfect print every time. Today, Scott Hallbrader, Lead Electrical Engineer, focuses smart support design.

Support Material

3D printing is often a game of give and take. This couldn’t be truer when using support material. Support materials have come a long way, especially in the soluble filament realm. However, these filaments are often messy and difficult to print with.

Breakaway support is one of the most widely used, but also has its drawbacks. Print quality is often sacrificed because of the support material. This doesn’t always have to be the case.

The orientation by which the part is printed is the most important step. Printing the part in an orientation which uses the least amount of support will almost always result in a higher quality print (assuming all other settings are dialed in) because support removal will be reduced.

Remember: Angles less than 45 degrees require support material and will often change the orientation in which a part is printed. The amount of support material needed can be increased or decreased depending on the orientation.

Simplify3D creates support structures where it sees that they may be needed – often in places that are very difficult to remove. Utilizing the custom support tool offered in Simplify3D is an easy solution to this issue. However, it is not the only solution. Generating support material into the model is another solution.

Generating Support Material into the Model

There are several benefits to generating support material into the actual model, including:

  1. Planning of removal of support material
    • Access points built into model (when possible)
    • Different materials are though of prior to slice/print setup
  2. Orientation planning done prior to slicing (in most cases)
    • Allows for least amount of support material
    • Makes slicing the model easier
  3. Creative support structures
    • Use less material
    • Easier to remove

When developing support material into a model is very difficult to do, another option is to develop a Boolean support for the model. This is essentially creating the mold of the model out of dissolvable support material. This can be seen in the images below.

NOTE: Filaments used:

  1. Innofil Pro1 (gray material in images)
  2. Innofil Innosolve (white material in images)

Dual extruder print using Innofil Pro1 and Innofil Innosolve


Completed print


Print soaked in water overnight to dissolve support material. Material is being removed in this image.


Final product. This print has an outer box, an inner box, and a sphere. They are all independent of each other with no joined material between the three pieces.

For other helpful hints, check out our blog.

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