3D printing is an amazing technology, it helps you to bring ideas to reality. But to get the desired results, it is important to understand some basic software settings before actually printing anything. In this article, we’re gonna focus on one of the most popular slicing software called Cura, and get into its support settings for filament 3D printing.
We’ll get into the different support settings, how to adjust the supports for easier removal, and some practical tips to optimize these settings for your prints. If you get these support settings correct, you can make sure that your prints come out just the way you imagined. Having good knowledge of 3D printing support will not only save you time but also materials too.
Note - These support setting tips are universal and can be applied in any good slicing software.
How to Get the Best Support Settings For Filament 3D Printing in Cura
In Cura, adjusting the support density, choosing the right pattern like Zig-zag, and setting the right gap between supports and your model makes a big difference. It’s about finding what best supports setting according to the 3D model and printer you’re using.
What Are Supports?
In your journey of 3D printing, one thing you may notice is the usage of support. Supports are basically the temporary structures that provide stability to parts of your 3D model that have nothing to hold onto while printing.
In simple terms, supports are basically a framework for your print. They hold up overhanging parts until the print is complete. Once the printing is done, you can easily remove these supports to get your final print.
Why are supports important?
Supports are important because when you print a model, the printer lays down material layer by layer from the bottom up. Now, if a part of your model sticks out into thin air, with nothing beneath it, that part would just fall due to gravity. So, what supports does is they provide a base for such overhanging parts to make sure they stay in place as the model is printed.
For example – suppose you’re printing a model of a Dog with its face coming out. Without supports, the face, especially the chin would have nothing to hold up to because of which your print will fail. So, a support would hold up the face during printing, making sure it gets printed as you wanted.
Support Settings in Cura
To set support settings in cura but before that to see these settings, you’ll need to move away from the default view. Here’s how you do it:
To open the advanced support settings in Cura, follow these steps:
- Open Cura and load your model.
- Go to the “Print settings” section and select “Custom.”
- Click on “Configure setting visibility” and select the “Check All” option to view all available settings.
Here are some important support settings you’ll find in Cura:
- Support Structure: This setting lets you choose between normal supports, tree support, and organic supports.
- Overhang Angle: The overhang angle tells at what degree an overhang must be before supports are generated. A common recommendation is to set the overhang angle to 45° to play it safe. But, some 3D printers can print angles up to 50°-60° depending on the model design.
- Tree Support Branch Distance: This setting tells the distance between the endpoints of branches, where they touch the model.
- Tree Support Branch Diameter: This setting refers to the diameter of the branch where it touches the model to support it.
Common Types of Supports in Cura
Cura offers two main types of supports: Normal and Tree supports. Each supports has its unique advantages and use case, and choosing the right one can greatly impact your print
- These are standard, linear supports that grow vertically from the build plate or other parts of the model to the overhanging parts.
- Normal supports are somewhat easier to apply and are suitable for models with simple overhangs.
- But, it can be really hard to remove, especially in the complex design and normal supports can leave marks on print.
- As the name says, tree supports basically branch out from a central trunk to support various parts of your print.
- Tree supports are useful for complex models with many overhangs or small parts as they provide support with minimal contact points due to which it is easier to remove.
- Tree supports can be more time-consuming to set up properly,but it’s filament saving and is easier to remove.
Support Patterns in Cura
Understanding the support patterns is important because each support pattern has its own set of unique advantages. Here are various support patterns you’ll find in Cura and in other major slicing software:
- Zig-zag: This pattern is one of the popular support patterns in the community. It’s quite easy to remove while it still provides good support. It doesn’t require a high density to be effective, which makes it a good choice if you want to save material and time.
- Lines: Other than the zig-zag pattern, the lines pattern is also a good option. It offers stronger support, but the only trade-off is that it can be a bit harder to remove.
- Grid: It’s a support pattern that crisscrosses each other vertically and horizontally. It’s recommended for its strength, but its rigidity can make removal a bit more harder than lines and zig-zag.
- Triangles: It is the best support pattern for those objects that need heavy-duty support. It’s less flexible than the grid pattern, which makes it the strongest support option but again, it is more challenging to remove.
- Concentric: This support pattern curves inward, which is great for providing support for overhangs. It’s also quite easy to remove but it might have some small gaps that could weaken the support a little bit.
- Cross: The cross pattern supports is the easiest to remove among all other supports, it may not provide much strength, but it’s like having a safety net with easier access points for removal.
- Gyroid: The gyroid support pattern is popular for its uniform support across all the overhang as it allows for a wavelike pattern within the support structure. Gyroid support is a sturdy option and can be created faster compared to some other patterns.
Selecting the right support placement is one of the important factors which determines the success of your Priint. Here are two types of support placement:-
- Everywhere: Supports will be generated wherever they are needed, including on the model itself.
- Touching Buildplate: Supports will only be generated from the build plate, not on the model.
Support Overhang Angle
The overhang angle shows when supports are generated for overhanging parts. A default starting point is 45°, but your printer can handle even steeper angles without support.
The density of supports affects how easy it will be for you to remove them and how much filament will be consumed.
- Higher Density: More material is used, but supports will be sturdier and can be a bit hard to remove and might leave marks on the print.
- Lower Density: Less material is used, and supports may be easier to remove, but they may not provide enough support for more complex overhangs.
The distance settings control how far supports are from the model, impacting how easy they are to remove:
- Support Z Distance: Adjusting this setting will change the vertical distance between the top/bottom of the supports and the model. If you set a greater distance, it is easier to remove the supports, but may affect surface quality.
- Support X/Y Distance: This setting adjusts the horizontal distance between supports and the model. It works similarly to the Z distance but on the X/Y axis.
To adjust these settings in Cura:
- Locate “Support Z Distance” and “Support X/Y Distance” in the support settings section.
- Adjust the distance value according to your preference.
Tree Support Settings
If you go for tree support settings, here are a few options for you:_
- Tree Support Branch Distance: This setting controls the distance between the endpoints of branches where they touch the model.
- Tree Support Branch Diameter: This setting specifies the diameter of the branch where it touches the model.
The interface is the layer between the support and the model’s surface, which heavily impacts the removal of the support.
- Support Interface Density: If you set a higher density, it makes the interface sturdier it will be harder to remove on the other hand if you lower density makes it easier to remove but it can affect support effectiveness.
- Support Roof/Floor: If you enable these options, it creates a denser layer at the top and bottom of the supports which makes the supports sturdier.
Here’s how you can adjust these settings in Cura:
- Find “Support Interface Density” in the support settings section.
- Use the slider or input a value to adjust the density percentage.
- Check or uncheck the boxes for “Support Roof” and “Support Floor” to enable or disable these options.
Practical Tips for Optimizing Support Settings
Support Overhang Angle
This setting helps you to set at what angle the supports will start to build up under the overhangs. A common starting point is 45 degrees, but if you’re looking to support more extreme overhangs, like bridges, setting it to a higher angle, like 89 degrees, could work.
The pattern of your supports can also play an important role in how easy you can remove and how well they will support your model during the print. The most commonly used pattern is Zig-zag because it gives you a good balance between strength and ease in removal. Other patterns like Lines, Concentric, Grid, and Triangles each have their own advantages but according to my own experience Zig-zag and Concentric are usually good choices for most prints.
The density of your supports is like the density of the infill in your model. The higher the density you set, the stronger the support. It will take the overall model more time to print, and support will be harder to remove, which may leave marks on the surface.
For areas of your model that have a lot of overhangs or are important for the structural strength of the model, a higher density might be a good choice. On the other side, lower-density supports can be used in the rest of the areas to save time and material.
Support Wall Line Count
The wall line count is the number of walls that surround the supports much like the wall in the model to surround the infills. Having more walls in supports will make the supports stronger but will increase the filament consumption and it will be much harder to remove. My recommendation would be to set the Support Wall Line Count to 0.
Support interface is a setting that adds an extra structure where the supports meet your model’s surface. It makes the support removal easier and leaves a cleaner surface on your model. It’s recommended to have the Support Interface enabled.
Support Z Distance
Z distance is also an important setting that determines the gap between the top of the support and the bottom surface of your model. A smaller gap gives better support, but a larger gap makes the support easier to remove. It might take you a bit of tweaking and testing to find the perfect number for your printer and the model you’re printing.
Knowing support settings in Cura or any other slicer software you use is important for achieving high-quality prints, especially when printing models with overhangs.
Best thing for you would be to start with the default settings like most beginners do, as it provides a solid baseline from which you can make adjustments.
We also recommend Experimenting with settings like Support Density, Support Distances, and Support Interface settings help you find the right balance between effective support during printing and ease in support removal after printing.
We also recommend you to experiment with settings like Support Density, Support Distances, and Support Interface. This will help you find the right balance between effective support during printing and ease of support removal after printing.
What is the best support pattern for 3D printing in Cura?
- Zig-zag pattern is often considered one the best support patterns for its balance between strength and ease of removal.
What is a good support setting for Cura?
- A good starting point could be a Support Overhang Angle of 45 degreesSupport Density of 15%, and a Zig-zag Support Pattern.
What is the recommended support Z distance in Cura?
- It’s recommended to set the Support Z Distance equal to your layer height, for example, if the layer height is 0.3 mm, set it to 0.3 mm.
How can I improve 3D printing support?
- Improving 3D printing support can be achieved by adjusting support settings like the Support Density, Support Overhang Angle, and the Support Z Distance. Experimenting with different support patterns and running test prints to see what works best for your particular setup can also be beneficial.
What is the best support X/Y distance?
- A good starting point is 0.8 mm, but you can adjust in 0.2mm increments if needed, especially if the supports are sticking to the model.
Is tree support better?
- Tree supports can be better for complex models with many overhangs as they use less material and can be easier to remove. However, they might take longer to generate and print.
What should support density be?
- Generally I would say 15-20% is good, but for light overhangs, 5-10% works well, and for heavy overhangs, 35% support density is recommended.
Do tree supports need infill?
- Tree supports don’t really need infill as they are designed to provide support with minimal material usage. The structure of tree supports is strong due to its branching geometry.