How to made support for flexible filament

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How to made support for flexible filament
Jul112018

How to made support for flexible filament

As you will all know in 3D printing, objects are built layer by layer. This implies that each layer supports the next layer. This next layer may not coincide exactly with the previous one, which means that part of the layer remains in the air, that is to say without being supported on the previous layer.

There is a point where this is not possible since the upper layers do not have enough support in the lower layers. This happens when we exceed an angle of 45º. To solve this problem and that the piece holds during printing we need to use the support structures.

What are support structures in 3D printing?

The structures of the support are elements that are printed next to the model but that are not part of the original design and that serve to support the protruding parts of the models that exceed 45º.

45 degree rule for 3D printing

These support structures can be made of the same material as the main part or, in the case that we have an extra extruder, another material that is easier to remove.

The support structures are created from the same program with which we prepare 3D printing and its correct configuration is crucial to obtain a good finish in the parts in which we use them.

The problem of support with flexible materials

When using rigid materials such as  PLA  remove the support, although tedious sometimes, it is usually simple. With the right tools we break the support structure and remove it. This is because the support structures are usually thin and brittle with rigid materials.

Removing flexible supports

With the flexible materials the thing changes. Although the support structures remain thin, the nature of the material does not break. So the only way to remove the support material is by stretching or cutting in the worst cases. 

Pack more flexible filament efil

What should be taken into account when configuring support for flexible materials?

There are two key aspects when it comes to configuring it: the shape of the support structure and the separation between the support and the piece.

As we have said before, the only way to remove the support in 3D printed pieces with flexible filament is to stretch. This is why we must configure the support so that we can simplify this task.

Speaking of the shape of the structure, it is best to reduce the points of contact by trying to make the supported surface as large as possible. We have to flee from the types of support in which the structure crosses each other as it could be a support with a grid pattern. Our choice is always a support with a cross pattern because the area it supports is much larger but the contact points are always a single line.

To see it we are going to compare the pattern of a single line with the cross pattern.

As you can see for the same area the cross pattern supports more areas than the others with the advantage that it always maintains the minimum contact surface, not like the grid support that when crossing over creates areas where removing the support will be more difficult .

The other fundamental parameter is the separation between the piece and the support. If we leave it close together, the support will melt with the piece, making it impossible to remove it. If we separate it a lot it will not be able to withstand the layers of 3D printing resulting in a disaster.

Recommended parameters to generate support with eFil

Taking into account all of the above, the parameters we recommend for the eFil range of flexible filaments are:

Cantilever angle45º
Density25%
Support patterncross
Distance in Z in the support0,19 mm
X / Y distance in the support0,7mm
Priority in support distancesZ on X / Y

Keep in mind that these parameters may need slight modifications depending on the 3D printer you have.

And that's all for today, if you have some trick for the support structures you can share it with us in the comments section.

filament pla 3d printing

Greetings and see you printing

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