How to get the best aesthetic results on all sides of a print?

There are photos of parts created with the Formlabs printers that give the appearance that they look great on all sides of the part. For example, the photos that Formlabs posts of the ubiquitous Rook and the geometric design printed in that new gray resin look excellent. Both of these items are designed to look great. I imagine they are printed with supports, but I don’t know for sure. Provided they are printed with supports, those supports need to be removed and cleaned up.

What’s the best way to remove supports without creating blemishes in the finished part so that the part looks great on all sides? Perhaps I’m chasing my tail, and its only possible to get results that look great if supports are not used on any visible surface?

I’d like to make parts that look good on all sides. What’s the best way to do that?


The rooks are actually printed unsupported directly on the build platform.

A few general recommendations for support structures:

Try to keep them away from intricate bits of your part. They’ll be easiest to remove and sand away when positioned on smooth and flat surfaces. Start off with a low grit to remove the bulk of the contact points and work your way up to higher grits. I’m a big fan of wet sanding with nail files as the surface finish tends to be better than that of dry sanding. You might be interested in this blog post on creating functional camera lenses.

I like to remove the support structures after the part has come out of IPA and before it’s gone through post-curing. I find that the supports are removed much more easily and leave pretty small bumps.

Also, consider the design of your object. You get more detail on surfaces facing upwards so if you can split off part of the model so that you can orient it better then that will help results

Frew and Zachary, thanks for the tips. I’ll spend some time learning how to manipulate the support structure. So far, I’ve let the tool auto-generate the supports to maximize the success of the printing process. I wasn’t ready to edit it and cause the part to fail because I haven’t learned the intricacies of what requires a support and what does not. It makes sense to minimize the support points to flat parts that are more easily sanded. I think that with all of the beautiful parts that are shown on this site, I was left wondering how much, if any, post processing was required to achieve that.

The materials page shows the new gray resin, and a photo of a ball:

Is that ball printed with any supports? And was it post processed to remove the marks? Or were the supports simply printed on a non-visible side of the object?

The article about the creation of the camera and lens was fantastic. It highlights that I really need to learn how to manipulate the support structure so it goes only on insensitive places.

That ball was printed on support structures and the contact points were sanded down. You can get very high quality surfaces finishes by sanding so it’s not so much a matter of placing them on insensitive surfaces as it is placing them on surfaces where they’ll be easily removed.

Take the time to review the section under Support/Software. There are three videos that are very helpful: Set Up Your Print, Model Orientation, and What Supports Do. The last video will answer a lot of your questions on support placement.

I have found that for my smaller prints, reducing the contact size to .4mm simplifies support break away and clean up.

It will take some time to play with model orientation and support generation to find the combination that works for you models.


The new grey V3 might be improved, but I would imagine that the image of that ball is not showing the bottom of the print which usually end up not as sharp due to the laser going through the print layer and curing resin on the bottom.