Help! I have to manually create my support mesh layer by layer


Currently I am working on the research of micro porous structures and their permeability and porosity relationship. Due to this research I have designed and printed a variety of porous cell structures for experimental testing. However, my main problem is being able to program the support mesh. As of right now, every print that I perform I must go through the .stl file in the preform program and manually scroll through the layers of the print. As I scroll through each layer I add/subtract support as needed. It is quite tedious, as many of my prints have over 1000 layers. Are there any programs or processes that generate the support mesh analytically (layer by layer), or is it even possible to program something like this? If you are working on something like this or know of something that may help it will save me a huge amount of hours in labor.


Why do you have to go through each layer and place supports yourself? Preform can do auto generation reasonably well.

Depending on the geometry of your surface you can model in a partially connected thin wall in a hatch pattern and then print directly on the plate. Hope that makes sense…not able to draw it at the moment.

Hi there, the size of the print is extremely small and precise (10e-4 m), and the program does not seem to recognize the fact that there is a new body that is unconnected to the previously printed material. So to make sure that these features are completed I must go through each layer and check that no new “body” was created. (I’m defining body as a part of the print that is not connected to the previous layers)

I’m sorry I am not sure what you mean. Could you be more specific about the “connected thin wall in a hatch pattern”?

I have had success with Creation Workshop. This software can generate support structures as well but does it in a different way. You can then export the STL file and import it in preform.

Can you post a screen shot of your model?

You don’t have to use the Preform support structures, if there’s another program that can generate supports that you like that you can export out then you can use that instead. Or if you want you can model them in your 3D software.

This is one of the forms that I am trying to print, all other forms are similar in nature but the geometry of the pore is different.

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I’d try creation workshop in this case. Rotate everything 45 degree and then auto generate supports.

You say the size of the print is 10e-4 meter. That’s 1mm. Is that the whole print or each segment? If it’s each segment, then the wall thickness will be below 0.25mm?

I will try creation workshop and report back. You are correct each pore is approximately 1 mm, with wall thickness below a 1/4 of a mm.

I think you’re going to have a lot of trouble printing surfaces this thin, particularly for a structure with the complexity of your sample above.

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I have actually had great success with the printing of these structures! My only problem is the labor that goes into each print. Currently I must spend approximately 1 hour going through each layer and manipulating the support. This is my intention of posting to this forum to see if anyone knows of any tricks or software that analytically does the support structure (e.g. layer by layer).

Ahh, well, your mastery of manual support placement must be better than mine! :smile:

Honestly, I have the attention span of a kitten. I can’t even imagine 1000 layers of manual support placement.

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Wouldn’t be too bad to do manual supports if a bit of thought is put into the orientation I think.

A bit hard to tell from the pic but it seems that if oriented with one of the large sides facing down, then rotated by roughly 45 degrees a bit of manual support placement (id bet you could get away with the smallest with this model) the rest should layer without the need of supports.

What are you looking to have your layer height set to?

I’d love to see a picture of one of these!

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Me too!

Have you tried coding the supports using something like OpenScad? It looks like your geometry might already be generated by scripts, so you might have.

There’s also this, which was recommended here a while back: