If there is one thing all the 3D printing community agrees on, it’s the fact that supports are a nightmare to deal with, to the point where many enthusiasts manipulate their models in creative ways to avoid printing supports, such as the famous example of printing two halves of a sphere and merging them as opposed to printing a complete sphere with supports.
On the other hand, the unfortunate truth is entirely avoiding supports is not always possible, and sooner or later, we all have to go through the agonizing process of removing the supports of the model as cleanly as possible, without leaving any of the support material behind.
Today, we will be diving into the support settings section of Cura, specifically for the purposes of finding the set of parameters that will allow us to print supports that are as uncomplicated as possible to remove, as we can all agree that we need all the help we can get when it comes to detaching supports.
So, how to configure Cura support settings for easy removal?
Here are the parameters we recommend modifying and the values to use for configuring supports in Cura in a way to make the removal process as straightforward as possible:
- Support Density – 30%
- Support X/Y Distance – 0.8 mm
- Support Z Distance – Twice the Layer Height
- Support Wall Line Count – 0
- Support Interface (Roof/Floor) – Enabled
- Support Interface Thickness – Four to Eight times the Layer Height
Next up, we will go into the methodology of configuring Cura supports settings for a more effortless removal process in more detail, look at the support patterns in Cura that are easiest to remove, and find out how to save the support settings for later usage.
How to Configure the Cura Support Settings for Easy Removal?
Since Cura uses a fair few distinct variables to determine how the support structures will turn out, configuring the support settings in a way that will provide the smoothest removal experience can be challenging.
Below, we have listed each of the parameters we recommend configuring to print easy-to-remove support structures with Cura, explanations of their purpose, and the values we recommend using:
- Support Density – 30% – Determines the density of the support structure, where higher values provide better support for your overhangs, and lower values are easier to remove.
- Support X/Y Distance – 0.8 mm – Determines the distance of the support structure from your model in the X and the Y directions. While greater distances make the supports more manageable to remove due to the vast amount of space, it also risks smaller overhangs being unsupported.
- Support Z Distance – Layer Height * 2 – Determines the distance of the support structure from your model in the Z direction. While greater distances make the supports much easier to remove, lower distances will allow the support structures to stick more firmly to the model and provide more stability.
- Support Wall Line Count – 0 – Determines the number of walls that surround the perimeter of the support structure. While the walls strengthen the support structure significantly, it makes it much harder to remove the supports.
- Support Interface (Roof/Floor) – Enabled – Adds an extra structure in the areas where the supports connect to the model. This extra layer of plastic makes it easier to remove the supports without damaging the model.
- Support Interface Thickness – Layer Height * (4 to 8) – Determines the thickness of the support interfaces.
As each model’s support requirements are different, we highly recommend using these values only as a baseline for your experimentations to find the optimal values that will work the best since easy-to-remove support structures don’t mean much if they can’t fulfill the duty of supporting the model.
Which Support Patterns in Cura Are Easiest to Remove?
The support patterns parameter is one of the most vital parameters to correctly configure for instructing Cura to create easy-to-remove supports, as each support pattern has distinct qualities that affect the ease of removal.
We have found the Zig Zag and the Lines support patterns in Cura to be the easiest to remove, as the support structures that employ these patterns are considerably weaker than more robust patterns such as Grid and Triangle.
Out of the two, we have often observed great results with the Zig Zag pattern, which is what we would recommend using if you find yourself not being able to make a choice.
How to Save Cura Support Settings for Later Use?
As there are plenty of variables to go through to configure the support settings as optimally as possible, it’s a good idea to save these settings for later use and load them whenever necessary, which will allow you to avoid re-configuring them every single time.
Here are the steps we recommend following to configure the support settings and save them to a profile that you can load later:
- Click the Prepare tab located at the top of the Cura window.
- Click the pane on the right to bring the Print Settings menu up.
- Click the Profile dropdown menu and choose the profile you would like to use as the base for your configuration.
- Click the three lines icon (next to the search box) and choose the All option from the dropdown menu if you haven’t before to make all advanced settings visible.
- Configure the support settings by typing “support” into the search box to find all support-related parameters.
- Click the Profile dropdown menu again and choose the “Create profile from current settings/overrides” button.
- Specify a name for the new profile you’re creating, and click the OK button.
Upon following these steps, the new profile you have created will have the updated support settings, which you can load whenever you need. This way, you will be able to create distinct profiles with distinct support settings and switch between them in a matter of seconds.
Tweaking the support settings of Cura in a way that makes the process of removing supports is definitely possible and also quite effective, but striking a balance between printing supports that are both sturdy enough to do their job and also easy to remove at the same time is where the real challenge is.
To quickly recap, setting the Cura support settings for easy removal comes down to configuring settings such as support density, X/Y distance, Z distance, wall line count, and interface thickness in a way that makes the supports less dense and more distant from the model, significantly reducing the effort that goes into the removing process.
On the other hand, as purely going for a configuration that allows easy removal can also cause the supports to become weaker, experimentation is vital to find values that will enable you to print support structures that are strong enough to support your model while also being easy to remove.
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.