Newbie question on support structures

I’m a newbie to printing on the Form 1+ and have a question on support structures. Since I don’t want to add too much supports, I used the minimal density and minimal size while generating the supports. Will it be enough? What are the considerations I have to keep in mind?

Support structures and part orientation are a bit of an art. I use the smallest point size for just about everything. Most things, i manually place the support points, as minimally as I think makes sense. There is not a hard and fast rule of 'Use settings A, B, and C, and every part will print great. Its just not that simple. Post some pictures of what you are trying to print and/or upload the .form file, and give us a chance to recomend some things.

After a few prints you will get the hang of it.

Thank you, Paul.

I tried to upload a few pictures, but the upload to this forum fails again and again. Is there something wrong at the moment?

It appears that there is something wrong. I get an error as well.

I’ll try to upload some pictures tomorrow… :wink:

If you are itching for some input, you could upload to or another image hosting site and share the link here.

How large (kb/mb) are your pics? Larger than 2/3mb won’t upload to this forum.

The files are way smaller. I’ll give it another try:

What do you think: too little supports?

Hey @Jolmer, you have the basics right, though it’s a little hard to tell if you’ve properly positioned the model in space. It can definitely improve. I see you’re printing at 0.05mm. I would change that to 0.1mm.

Furthermore, check the basic rules which I’ve described here. these rules are based on multiple user-experiences of Form1(+) owners.

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Hey Alex, thank you very much!

I positioned the object automatically in PreForm and generated the supports with the smallest point size and density. Is it orientated too diagonal? How would you orient it? Placing it 90 degrees on the build plate, the side facing the build plate will be parallel to it, not good?

As for the layer height; is need this case to be as straight as possible. How clear can the separate layers be seen at this height, when printing in black?

Here’s the actual STL file of the opposite side of the case I’ve been working on:

Download STL file: test.stl (3.0 MB)

Can you give me an example of how you would orientate it and generate support for it?

Here is how .01 looks in black. This was made using Vorex resin, which is a bit less glossy than the FormLabs Black, but the layering looks the same. You will notice the lettering still came out very clear.

@Alex_Vermeer’s post about orientating large flat parts is excellent. Bookmark it.

This was my thought for orientation:

I understand wanting to keep the angles low to waste less resin on supports, but its not really wasted if your print looks better.

Well, now seeing your model, I believe the basic rules should be bent a little… You’re starting with a pretty complicated model to print :stuck_out_tongue: . I positioned it a lower angle than I would usually do, but otherwise you end up with triple the amount of resin used than the actual model. Which wouldn’t be very efficient. Therefore, I lowered the angle slightly but it will still create quite some stress on the layers. That’s why I would only suggest printing it at 0.1mm and not at 0.05mm. Concerning the visibility of the layer height I cannot really advise you as everyone has a different “tolerance” to what is accepted. The fact remains that you’ll have to sand your part to get the desired finish as you need to get rid of the support marks. I print prototypes for engineering purposes and I haven’t had any complaints about layer visibility yet.

@Paul_Schommer,'s way of printing will give you a fair chance of success. However, in this case I would suggest orienting the part so the outside of the model is facing the build platform to reduce waste of supports. Furthermore, the reduced angle (X) will help you print the “grid stripes???” more easily. This is the place where it most likely will fail.

I’m not saying that my orientation is a better one than @Paul_Schommer’s, it’s all about following the guidelines and using your “gut feeling” to assess what would be the best orientation. I choose the outside because of the grid stipes, while I would have chosen the inside without the grid stripes. Either way both orientations should be better than your original one.

I realize this is probably not the orientation you were hoping for as you seem to want to print it with the inside towards the build platform. I would normally recommend this as well, as it prevents creating a vacuum on certain parts. On your part this will not happen. Furthermore It reduces the amount of supports needed.

Still it’s not guarantee it will print properly. However, I believe there is certainly a bigger chance of success compared to your positioning right now!

For the Form-file:

I think @Alex_Vermeer’s orientation is good too. But I have 1 question… Why not go a few degrees the other direction? Then you could support the inside of the case where support marks probably dont matter?

I do this for two reasons @Paul_Schommer.

  1. Because then it would create a lot of supports on the rim of the model which, by positioning the model as it is now, requires a lot less supports. Furthermore, it will end up having a lot of “internal” supports which will leave a lot more marks on the inside than the few marks it’ll leave on the outside right now.

  2. I always sand down the in- and outside of the model (even if the inside will not be visible on assembly), because I like to present my clients with a smooth print on all surfaces. When it comes to the print, I hate the imperfections it has because of the support marks.
    Though the marks are on the outside, There will be a lot less of them and the outside is easier to sand down. Having the model positioned more towards the inside will create an enormous amount of sanding work after the model is printed.

So yes, you do have a point. The print will look better when coming out of the printer when positioning it towards the inside, but the finishing will be a lot less work (when positioning it towards the outside) to create the eventual result which satisfies both you and the client. I guess it’s a matter of priorities and requests of the client. In the case of @Jolmer, I do not know what they are, so it’s good that both you and I give him multiple ways of orientation to choose from :slight_smile:

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Fair points. A+ answer.

Wow Alex, thank you for your elaborate explanation, very helpful! One question: with which density and point size did you generate these supports? What is best practise with those settings? And did you make a few supports yourself, or is it all auto generated?

I use the minimum point size (.40mm) for every print. I manually place everything except for very complicated models.
Take this one for example:

I started manually placing them, but it got very tedious. So I auto generated, and then moved as many as possible to edges and unimportant faces as i could.

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I can understand, that would be quite a lot of work. I worked the same way on my first attempt; 1st auto generate, 2nd manually edit the ones that are on edges or other not so comprehensive places.

I do the same as @Paul_Schommer, however for models like these which tend to have a lot of stress during the peel cycles I stick to the 0.6mm point size for the large surfaces (just to be on the safe side. (0.4mm would probably work as well). I auto generate the supports and then go through each layer individually to see if supports are actually needed. In most cases you need to add more supports in critical places. With your model for instance, I added 0.4mm points at the top (based on Preform) of each “grid stripe” as these will endure a lot of stress on the first few layers when coming back together.

Deleting points can be done as well, but you have to be critical with this because it can create “wavey” parts which are write-off’s. In your case, I didn’t delete any, The reason for this is that I didn’t have the time to assess each layer and I just went through the layers to the places which I knew would cause possible failures and added points where needed. However, assessing it more thoroughly, it seems you would be able to delete a few points on the parts starting on layer 891, 1020 and 1180. Be careful with deleting points at 953-975 though, as this will be a stressful part during the print!

Yes, it does take more time, but what’s an extra 10 minutes on a build of so may hours. If it prints correctly, you wasted 10 minutes for nothing. If it failes beause you didn’t spend the 10 minutes properly placing the supports, you lose many hours. I know what I’d do :wink: