We’ve looked previously at various aspects of the program such as setting up profiles for specific printers, correct resin settings and also competitors.
This time though, we’re going to be looking at adding the best support settings for your 3D printed model.
We all need support from time to time, and a 3D model is not alone in that respect!
Good supports for your model can mean the difference between success and failure, so it’s important to get them right.
This isn’t necessarily an easy process to get right the first time and will take practice. Hopefully though, we’ll be able to go through the process and look at the best recommendations to achieve the best results.
Best ChiTubox Support Settings
Adding supports to any 3D printed model can be a headache.
With FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) printers, it’s usually straightforward. The supports tend to cover wider, more sweeping areas of the model and will basically be placed anywhere where there’s a hint that the print layer will drop.
With resin printing it’s a bit more complicated. The supports are more specifically targeted to individual parts of the model and tend to be thinner and more delicate. To use an analogy, imagine a tree.
With resin printing the supports act like the roots of that tree; with FDM the supports are more like extra pieces of wood that have been nailed to the side.
It’s not quite as cumbersome as that, but hopefully you’ll see my point.
As we’ve already mentioned, though, supports are essential for the success of your model. So, let’s look at some recommended support settings on ChiTubox.
Firstly, you’ll need to load your model file into ChiTubox so that it’s visible on the UI’s build plate. This will then allow you to open up the support menu, which is located in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
You’ll then be presented with the support settings panel itself. This panel gives you the options to choose Top, Middle, Bottom and Raft, and it’s each of these settings that we’ll look closely at.
A raft in 3D printing terms is a base on which to place your supports and model.
The intent of the raft is to provide the ideal bed adhesion and thereby give your model the best chance of success.
As we’ve already mentioned, in resin printing the supports are like the roots of the model. The raft therefore could be considered as the soil holding the roots in place.
From the support menu panel, select “Raft” and then you can apply the settings in each box. The recommended settings would look like this:
|Raft Shape||“None” or “Skate”|
|Raft Area Ratio (%)||120.00|
|Raft Thickness (mm)||1.00|
|Raft Height (mm)||1.80|
|Raft Slope (°)||30.00|
Each of these settings will have a bearing on both the adhesion to the build plate and the ease of removal of your completed print.
Selecting “None” will still produce a raft, but it will be split up into sections under each of the individual supports. “Skate” will give you one solid area covering the base of all the supports as one. This will give you better bed adhesion, but may make removal of the printed supports a bit harder.
Raft Area Ratio
This is the size of the raft area in comparison to the size of the model. Having a bigger ratio gives better adhesion, but obviously uses more materials. The raft area ratio recommended is 120.00 so would therefore be 120% the size of the model at its lowest point.
Again, this will give better adhesion, but a thicker raft will also use more materials. Recommendation here is 1.00 mm so if your layer height was set to 0.05 mm, you’d be printing 20 layers as your raft.
This may seem the same as Raft Thickness, and it pretty much is. The height though refers to the edge of the raft. The higher it is then the easier it will be to find the edge for removal from the build plate. The raft height recommended is 1.80 mm so would add this a “lip to the raft edge.
This is the angle that the edge of the raft slopes upwards and away from the build plate. The more acute the angle, the easier it will be to gain purchase when removing the model from the build plate.
An angle of 30.00° would give an acute angle as required and allow for more purchase under which to apply leverage to remove the printed model.
Z Lift Height
The Z Lift Height is set to maintain a distance between the model and the build plate.
Without adding this, the supports will be obsolete, and the model will begin printing at the level of the build plate.
We obviously don’t want that, so getting the right height is key. In the case of larger build plates, the optimum level should be set at 7.0 mm and for smaller plates, 5.0 mm.
Top Support Settings
This, obviously, refers to the top part of the support.
This is where the support and the model are connected, so it’s a key component in the whole support set-up. Thickness and shape are the key factors here, as if it’s too thin, it may separate from the model during printing.
Recommended Settings in ChiTubox
|Contact Diameter (mm)||0.80|
|Contact Depth (mm)||0.20|
|Upper Diameter (mm)||0.30|
|Lower Diameter (mm)||0.80|
|Connection Length (mm)||2.00|
This is the shape at the top end of the support where it makes contact with the model. A sphere is recommended as it will adhere better to the model. You could add this as being “none” but this would have a less secure contact area.
The size of the sphere. We’ve recommended 0.8 mm, which is sufficient and will use minimal resin.
This is the depth that the contact shape penetrates the model. The deeper the penetration, the stronger the support contact will be. A contact depth of 0.20 mm means that this much will go into the model, leaving 0.60 mm visible.
The top of the support is angled away from the upright “trunk” of the main structure. So, it almost acts as a branch of the support “tree”. There is a choice of shapes for this angled piece, but it doesn’t really make much difference which one you choose. In this example, we’ve selected “Cone”.
The diameter of the support connection at the point it meets the model. This is recommended at 0.30 in this case as it fits with the size ratio of the sphere contact shape.
The diameter of the support connection at the bottom of the connection shape. You’ll see from the table how this would relate to the connection shape being a cone as it’s larger. The diameter is set to the same as the contact sphere to provide more stability through the support structure.
The actual length of the connection shape; in this case, a cone. The length is set to 2.00 mm in our example recommendation, but may need to be adapted to be adapted depending on the model.
Middle Support Settings
We’re now looking at the middle of the support to continue the tree analogy, the trunk.
This is the main support structure but has no contact with either the model or the build plate so has fewer settings. Let’s look at the ones it does have though.
Recommended Settings in ChiTubox
As with the top support, this is the shape and of the three choices, we’ve selected “Cylinder” this time. This really is down to personal choice though.
The diameter of the cylinder. The recommendation here is 1.20 mm, which is slightly larger than that of the lower diameter of the top support. This gives the top support a good base to again provide more stability.
This is the angle between the vertical middle section and the top support. The closer to 90° you get, the easier it is to remove the support. However, the contact point will be thinner so not as strong. The setting recommended in ChiTubox is 70.00°, which provides stability while still allowing easier removal.
Bottom Support Settings
The Bottom Support is at the point where the middle meets the build plate.
As we’ve mentioned, there is usually a raft in use but if not then the bottom support acts as the “foot” of the middle section.
Without a raft in place, you would need to set these in ChiTubox according to the recommendations we’re looking at here. Again, there are only three settings to worry about.
Recommended Settings in ChiTubox
|Platform Touch Shape||Skate|
|Touch Diameter (mm)||12.00|
Platform Touch Shape
With ChiTubox there are 5 different shapes to choose from. The best however for ease of removal from the build plate is the “skate”.
As with the raft, this is the size of the area that will be in contact with the build plate. A diameter of 12.00 is the default setting and there’s little point in changing it as this provides a good base footing for the support.
Again, the thickness of the platform is determined here, but it needn’t be too thick. The thicker the platform is, the more difficult it is to remove.
The setting of 1.00 mm is recommended in ChiTubox and as you’ll notice, this is the same as the raft thickness.
Model Contact Shape for Complex 3D Models
Sometimes when printing more complex models, supports may be needed on or within the model itself.
For instance, on a model figure the arm may be directly above the leg so a support would be needed between the two.
The settings and shapes for these supports will be like the others, but at a more specified area of the print.
Recommended Settings in ChiTubox
Like the top support, this is the shape added to the upright support at the point it makes contact with the upper part to be supported. In our example of a model figure, this would be in contact with the arm.
This is the size of the sphere. This would need to be smaller in most case due to its position within the model. Therefore, it’s recommended at 0.60 mm compared to the standard top support contact shape diameter of 0.80 mm.
The depth that the contact shape penetrates the point of contact. Again, this is 0.20 mm, leaving 0.40 mm of the sphere visible this time.
This determines how many points of contact there should be. In this case, we’ve gone for the maximum of three, as this provides a more stable support base. In effect, you’re adding a small “tripod” to the base of the support.
If you consider that the surface on which this middle support is to make contact is unlikely to be flat, a tripod makes perfect sense.
So, there we have the complete run down of how to set supports using ChiTubox.
The settings we’ve discussed are generic and the best recommended for a standard model on a standard printer.
Obviously, you may use these and find that they’re not right for you, and that’s fine.
A lot of 3D printing and design comes from trial and error, so a bit of tweaking may be needed to get things exactly right for you. However you get on, I hope that this article has given you some assistance.