The folks over at 3D Hubs have and amazing knowledgebase of articles related to 3D printing. These articles range from explaining the different type of 3D printing to post-processing of prints. While I highly recommend all of the articles available, this week I just wanted to point you at one in particular; the one that explains what supports are and why they’re necessary in the 3D Printing world. Here’s just a sample:

As 3D printed parts are built layer by layer a previous layer to build upon is required. Depending on the specific 3D printing technology and the complexity of the 3D model, this can mean that a 3D print requires support structures.

When considering what technology to print a 3D model with it is important to consider support structures and how they may affect the final result. Supports structures will have an impact on surface finish as they require post-processing work to remove resulting in blemishes or surface roughness.

This article discusses supports, how supports are implemented for each 3D printing technology and how the use of supports can impact the design decision making process.

FDM support structures
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) extrudes a melted filament onto a build surface along a predetermined path. As the material is extruded it cools forming a solid surface providing the foundation for the next layer of material to be built upon. This is repeated layer by layer until the object is completed.

When is FDM support material needed?
With FDM print each layer is printed as a set of heated filament threads, which adhere to the threads below it and around it. Each thread is printed slightly offset from its previous layer. This allows a model to be built up to angles of 45°, allowing prints to expand beyond its previous layer’s width. When a feature is printed with an overhang beyond 45°, it can sag, and requires support material beneath it to hold it up.

You can read the full article @ 3DHubs.com.

About Author
Michael Sauers, Technology Manager
Michael Sauers is currently the Director of Technology for Do Space in Omaha, NE. Michael has been training librarians in technology for the past twenty years and has published more than 14 books on technology and other topics.