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Setting Up Support Material In PreForm

Introduction Setting up support material can be difficult if you are new to it, therefore we made this guide in order to help. Below is a step by step guide taking you through both ways of creating support material in …

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Ross Campbell

September 22, 2020

Introduction

Setting up support material can be difficult if you are new to it, therefore we made this guide in order to help. Below is a step by step guide taking you through both ways of creating support material in PreForm, as well as some general tips.

PreForm – FormLabs

PreForm is the predominant slicer for Formlabs 3D printers. Formlabs have a range of high quality and precision printers such as the Form 2, Form 3, Form 3B and the new Form 3L which features a larger build volume.

You can download Preform here: https://formlabs.com/software/

Tips

The Printability section has three sub areas; Printabilty, Show Minina and Show Cups. These refer to possible problems that can arise with the components.

1. You can speed up print time on the Form 2 by placing the longer supports closer to the wiper side, and on the Form 3 you can reduce time by orientating your parts parallel to the mixer side.

2. By orientating your part so that any merging features are facing the build platform you create a shared face for the features to develop from. As a result the layers separate into individual parts rather than coming together at a joint.

Example Of Merging Feature Facing Build Platform

3. Orientate the model so that any overhanging features are self supporting and do not extend over the main body. Consequently this reduces print failures due to overhanging features.

Example Of Self Supporting Overhang Preform 3D model
Example Of Self Supporting Overhang

Orientation

When using PreForm the first step is to check the orientation of your part. This not only reduces print time but helps make a better quality print. This is because it reduces the surface area of each layer, resulting in the print being subjected to less force as the platform raises with every layer. The ideal angle of orientation is 10-20 degrees.

Incorrectly Orientated 3D Print Model
Incorrectly Orientated Model
Correctly orientated model
Correctly Orientated Model

Adding the Support Material

After you’ve loaded your model and orientated it correctly you need to add the support material, there are two ways to do this.

Method 1

The first way of adding support material is to use the Auto-Generate tool. In order to do this you click on the Support icon -> Auto-Generate All.

Location of Auto-Generate All on preform
Location of Auto-Generate All on preform

PreForm will then add the support material for you so that your part is ready for printing.

Auto Generated Support on correctly orientated preform model
Auto Generated Support On Correctly Orientated PreForm Model

Check the Printability on the right to make sure that your part is all good to go!

Printability Section

Method 2

The other method is to add the support material yourself, to do this click Edit All located under Edit Supports.

As a result of you doing this manually after doing this areas that need support will turn red on the model. Just click on the model to add support material to where your cursor is.

Areas needing more support on preform model
Areas Needing More Support on PreForm Model

When the red has dissapeared it means that the part is sufficiently supported and therefore is ready to print. Click Apply to add the support material.

Manually Generated Support On Correctly Orientated PreForm Model

Check Printability in order to check if your component is ready to go!

Printability section

Reducing Minima

Every model has minima as it is the lowest point on a surface. By rotating a model so that it faces the build platform from a different angle changes the lowest point and how the following layers build off it. Consequently not as much support material is needed for the model, reducing print time.

Example Of Unsupported Minima

Reducing Suction Cups

Models that are hollow or have concaved features risk creating a suction cup while printing. If the model has a cavity pointing face up it traps air between the printed part and the resin tank, as a result causing suction that can make the part stick and detach off the build plate. To counteract this orientate your model so that the cups are facing the build platform, not the tank. If you are unable to do this add air or drainage holes to your part by adding small holes on the CAD file.

Example Of Cupping

Following these tips can really help avoid any problems during your prints. Simple adjustments to the orientation or supports of a part can make a big difference in ensuring high quality and reliable printing.

Final thoughts

Solid Print3D is here to help you make the right decision with your next 3D Printer purchase. For more information, please call Solid Print3D at 01926 333 777 or email at info@solidprint3d.co.uk

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