Support Removal Question from a Newbie

Hi There,

I’m very new to SLA printing, having just purchased a second hand Form 1+ printer. I’ve been using a FDM printer for the last 3 years, however SLA printing does require some re-learning and re-thinking of the “old ways”.

Anyway, I successfully printed a couple of test prints as well as a pretty complex model, and I do have a question regarding support removal.

Should support be removed while the model (and the supports) are still relatively soft and flexible, or after the model has fully cured?

Here is the last model I printed. The hair still has a lot of support stubs that need to be cut closer, but I’m worried about some of the fine hair strands braking off now that the model is fully cured. I already broke her trigger finger trying to remove a support.

If there are thin parts then it is better to keep the supports on there to help keep its form while it cures, otherwise it’s likely to warp. I think that print is mostly fine, since things like the hair can warp and it’s not a problem since it’s hair. But I’ve got stuff like a thin antenna and I’ve kept the supports on there as long as possible since it needs to be straight.

I typically remove the supports while the parts are fresh so they have less chipping. I also use a water based cleaning method.

If your using IPA like many others then you may need to keep the supports on the part until it’s fully cured to prevent warping.

Yesterday I finished a finely detailed print with many, very thin features (feathers), and from a printing standpoint, it was a great success.

Then came the great failure. While trying to remove the supports (after curing the model in the sun), most of the thin feathers simply chipped, shattered or broke off, so I can see the wisdom of removing the supports while the print is still relatively “flexible”.

How well does cleaning in water work? What about diluting the IPA?

If you have a rotary tool you can use one of the cut off bits and remove the supports with that. It would be a little more gentle than the snips.

To clean in a water based system, some of us have been using Yellow Magic in an ultrasonic cleaner then post curing the part with a uv light source while it is submersed in either the Yellow Magic or in plain water. The parts cure up relatively fast under water since as long as there is no oxygen on the surface the tackiness goes away quickly. I use a 405 nm laser pointer and shine it over the surface while submersed and it only takes a couple of minutes on most parts.

If you don’t have an ultrasonic cleaner you can use an ordinary natural hair chip brush and scrub the part up. In most cases this works fine but it might be difficult if the part has many internal areas that are hard to reach.

I use a jewelers saw to hack the base of the supports off making it easier for me to access and trim the rest of the supports off. I do this after the initial cleaning so I don’t have too much raw resin all over the place.

The sprue cutters can break fragile parts so it can help if you try to cut at the supports rather than snipping them off.

On my latest couple of prints, I’ve started using a sharp scalpel blade to cut the supports at the tip, where they contact the model. I’m also doing this after the IPA baths, while the support trees are still relatively soft and flexible.

This seems to work pretty well for now, and making the contact point smaller (0.5mm) also helped.

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