Supports and 3D Printing


When printing via the Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) process, heated material is extruded from the print head to create a printed part, one layer at a time. As this material is very flexible, it needs to adhere to a solid surface or it will lose shape. On the first layer of a part, the print bed is the solid surface onto which material is extruded. For parts that are at least as wide at the base as they are at the top, the previous layer becomes this solid surface as it cools or becomes more rigid. However, when printing parts with arches, flanges, or other overhanging features, the plastic needs something else to serve as a surface to adhere to. In these cases, support material is built up with the part to provide a surface for the overhanging features to print on. Supports are printed in the same plastic material as your part and are easy to break off after printing, allowing you to print complex geometries while still achieving part accuracy with minimal post-processing.


Printing with Traditional Supports

In Eiger, users can enable or disable supports for any part. If the Use Supports toggle switch is enabled, support material and tool paths will automatically generate under any overhanging features that would require supports to be successful. For Onyx, any feature that is greater than 45° from vertical will require supports; for Nylon, supports generate under any overhang that is more than 30° from vertical.

Supports generate under overhangs and features in an accordion pattern of single walls. Since supports are less dense than the walls and infill patterns of the part, they can be easily snapped or peeled off of the finished part. Further, there are occasional instances where users may want to change the angle, in the XY plane, that the supports generate in. If that is the case, the XY angle of the support tool paths can be controlled with the Support Angle field in the Eiger Part View page. For normal support patterns, a support angle of 0 means that the support tool paths will run parallel to the X-axis.


Printing with Turbo Supports

Turbo supports are a step up from the way supports are traditionally printed. Parts that have large overhangs or unsupported cavities will require a lot of support material to print successfully, leading to increased printing time and part cost. Turbo supports help reduce the time and material used to print support-heavy parts by using a different tool path pattern. Turbo supports will print more sparsely for the majority of the print, then change to a tighter pattern as the supports get closer to the floor of the supported feature. The sparse support sections will provide the needed strength and stability for the part but will print much faster than a traditional support pattern. The tighter support pattern will look very similar to normal supports and is intended to bridge the gaps between the sparser support sections to provide a very stable surface for the floors to generate over.

Turbo supports, like any other tool path or layer information, can be viewed in your part’s Internal View in Eiger. By default, support tool paths are generally disabled for viewing, so they will show up as ghosted white lines. The tool paths can be enabled for viewing by expanding the Visibility menu and clicking the icon next to Support. The turbo support lines will be rotated 90° from the Support Angle value that was designated on the Part View page. The final section of turbo supports that directly supports the part will generate at the designated support angle; the height of this section depends on layer height, part geometry, and part settings. 


To enable or disable turbo supports, first navigate to Settings > Account Settings and ensure that the Enable Experimental Features toggle switch is enabled; then, click the Turbo Supports toggle switch under the Settings tab in the Part View page.