While never needing support structures for manufacturing any model with 3D printing is the dream of every 3D printing enthusiast, it’s undeniable that they are a vital addition that makes it possible to print many complex shapes that otherwise wouldn’t be achievable.
Fortunately, just as with everything else in the realm of 3D printing, the process of generating supports is also improving with each passing day, with popular slicers offering more and more ways to optimize the support structures for specific printing scenarios.
Today, our topic is the support roof feature in Cura, which is a feature that allows us to customize the supports Cura prints in a way that extends their functionality and improves the printing process in some scenarios with the benefits it brings.
So, what really is the support roof feature in Cura?
The support roof feature in Cura instructs the 3D printer to print an intermediary structure between the top of the supports and the model, creating an extra layer of dense plastic that provides further support, which especially comes in handy in instances where more support is needed.
Next up, we will be going into the support feature of Cura in greater detail, find out how to use the support roof feature in Cura, and discuss the scenarios where it would be optimal to activate this feature to improve the printing process.
What Is Support Roof in Cura?
While the purpose of supports in 3D printing is pretty apparent, there are times when it’s necessary to customize these structures in a way that would be more beneficial to the health of the printing process, which is where the support roof feature in Cura comes in.
Support roof is a feature in Cura that furthers the functionality of support structures by adding an extra piece of dense plastic to the area where the supports connect to the model, which strengthens the support structure without increasing the print times too much.
Alongside support roof, you can also find a feature called support floor, which is practically the same thing as support roof, but instead, the extra piece of plastic rests in the area between the bottom part of the supports and the model.
As the support roof and the support floor features instruct the 3D printer to create a continuous surface that spans the entire area between the model and the supports, as opposed to support structures that have spaces between them, the stability that comes with these features is pretty noticeable.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that both the support roof and the support floor structures are entirely customizable, meaning that you can modify attributes such as thickness, density, pattern, and anything else you can change for standard supports, specifically for the support roof and the support floor.
How to Use the Support Roof Feature in Cura?
While using the support roof feature in Cura is not a whole lot different than activating and configuring any other functionality the slicer offers, it’s vital to configure its parameters optimally to receive the maximum benefit possible from this feature.
Here are the steps you can follow to activate and use the support roof feature in Cura:
- Navigate to the Prepare tab of Cura, which you can find at the top of the window.
- Click the rightmost pane below to bring the Print Settings menu up.
- If you haven’t before, click the Custom button to switch to Custom Print Settings.
- Click the three lines icon next to the search input, and choose the All option from the dropdown menu.
- Type “support roof” into the search input, and click the check box next to the Enable Support Roof entry.
Note that you will need to enable supports for the support roof entry to be visible, as nothing will come up from the search if supports aren’t active.
After activating the support roof feature, the parameters that allow you to customize the support roof will also appear, which we have listed below:
- Support Roof Thickness
- Support Roof Density
- Support Roof Line Distance
- Support Roof Pattern
- Minimum Support Roof Area
- Support Roof Horizontal Expansion
- Support Roof Line Directions
To activate and customize the support floor feature, you can follow the same steps, but search for “support floor” instead and configure the support floor-related parameters.
When to Use the Support Roof Feature in Cura?
The support roof feature in Cura isn’t something that you should always keep active, as it can be as harmful as it can be beneficial to the printing process in cases where using the feature isn’t very necessary.
We recommend using the support roof feature in Cura whenever you feel that your model requires more support than standard support structures can provide for a successful print, as standard supports may not always be able to carry the model’s weight.
Printing bridges and overhangs that are on the larger side are great examples of situations where support roofs can come in handy, as these structures can often overwhelm the supports and drastically reduce the quality of the bridges and the overhangs.
While the increase in print time that comes with using the support roof feature isn’t too much of an inconvenience, taking into account that these structures are more challenging to remove than standard supports due to them being denser, using this feature only when it’s necessary is the most optimal thing to do.
The support roof functionality in Cura is definitely a significant addition to Cura’s support settings with the flexibility it brings to the table for scenarios where its usage has incredible benefits on the printing process.
To quickly recap, we can summarize the support roof feature in Cura as an extra piece of dense plastic that sits between the model and the top of the support, providing a higher degree of support to the model than standard support structures.
As printing the support roof doesn’t impact the print times too heavily despite being denser than regular support structures, it’s a feature that comes in extremely handy in situations where the model requires more support than what standard supports can provide, such as overhangs.
Mike started his 3D printing journey with the Anet A8 when it first came out back in 2017, and has been obsessed with 3D printers ever since. Nowadays, he primarily uses his Ender 3 to print functional parts that make his life more convenient whenever possible.