We are sure that most of you will agree that supports are one of the least exciting things to deal with in 3D printing, whether it’s configuring them correctly to provide the necessary support to the bridges and overhangs or removing them from the model.
While slicer software, such as Cura, makes the process as easy as possible for the user, there are still many parameters that one must configure correctly on a case-by-case basis to be able to print optimal supports, especially considering that misconfiguration can become quite costly.
In today’s article, we will be going through the scenario of the support structures you have generated in Cura not sticking to the model, which may look concerning at first glance if it’s your first experience with supports and make you think that your model won’t be getting enough support.
So, what prevents the support structures you have created in Cura from touching the model?
While it may seem like there is something wrong at first look, the existence of a gap between the model and the supports that Cura generates is entirely standard and required, as the spacing allows the supports to fulfill their duty without fully merging with the model and becoming hard to remove.
In the upcoming sections, we will take a deeper look into the reasons behind Cura supports not touching the model, find out how to fix the issue at hand, and go through a similar case where the supports you have created in Cura are not sticking to the build plate.
What Causes Cura Supports to Not Touch the Model?
Supports have a very straightforward but vital purpose when printing models with overhangs and bridges, which is to provide the necessary footing for the melted plastic to stand on until it solidifies and gains the required structural integrity to stay upright.
While it may look concerning, it’s entirely normal for the supports you have generated in Cura not to touch the model, as the small gap between the two acts as a way to prevent the supports from fully merging with the model as if they were a part of the model itself, which would not be desired as the supports are meant to be removed.
On the other hand, it is also entirely possible for the support to be too far from or way too close to the model in the case of a misconfiguration, where the former will prevent the supports from working as intended and cause your overhangs and bridges to sag as if there were no supports, and the latter will cause the supports to fuse with the model and become near-impossible to remove later.
Ideally, the vertical distance between the supports and the model should be equal to a value that falls in the range of the layer height to twice the layer height, allowing the supports to be close enough to support the model and far enough not to form strong bonds that would make the removal process challenging.
How to Bring Cura Supports Closer to the Model?
Fortunately, Cura makes it a pretty straightforward process to adjust the distance between the supports and the model, meaning that you can fix any distance-related issues at hand within the span of a few seconds.
To bring the supports that you have generated in Cura closer to the model vertically, you will need to decrease the value of the Support Z Distance parameter, which directly determines the vertical spacing between the model and the supports.
On the other hand, if you are looking to bring the supports closer to your model horizontally, the parameter you will need to adjust is the Support X/Y Distance, of which the value is directly responsible for the horizontal distance between the supports and the model.
Finally, it’s worth noting that there will be cases where it will be impossible for both the Support Z Distance and the Support X/Y Distance to be fulfilled simultaneously, which will end up with one parameter having to override the other.
To determine whether the Z distance should override the X/Y distance or vice versa, you will need to adjust the Support Distance Priority parameter.
Cura Supports Not Sticking to the Bed – What to Do?
As the support itself needs a foundation to be able to support the model, it not being able to stick to the bed is a significant problem that will prevent it from fulfilling its purpose and create issues for the bridges and overhangs.
As the supports you have generated in Cura not sticking to the bed is not much different than the print itself not sticking to the bed, the typical culprits that cause bed adhesion issues, such as a bed that is not clean or correctly leveled, are the most likely causes in this case as well.
As a result, we recommend following the usual steps of leveling the bed, correcting the Z offset value, cleaning the build surface thoroughly, ensuring that you use a build surface compatible with the filament you’re printing, and using adhesives, which will all improve the bed adhesion and get your supports to stick better.
How to Find and Modify All of the Support Settings in Cura?
To make things not too complex for the 3D printing enthusiasts who are just starting with print settings in Cura, some settings, including a few support-related parameters, are not visible to the user by default and must be made visible specifically.
Below is a step-by-step guide you can use to make all support-related settings visible and ready to modify in Cura:
- Click the Navigate tab on the top of the Cura window.
- Click the pane on the right to bring the Print Settings dialog up on the screen.
- Click the Custom button if it’s visible; else, skip this step.
- Click the three horizontal lines icon next to the search input, and choose All from the dropdown menu, which will make all the settings that Cura offers visible.
- Type “support” into the search input and press Enter.
Following this process will make all support-related parameters visible, allowing you to perform the modifications of your choice to any of the support settings.
If you are printing with supports for the first time, observing that the supports aren’t touching the model can, without a doubt, create some concern about the health of the printing process and cause you to be suspicious of whether the final product will be a success or a failure.
To quickly recap, it’s fully intended for the support structures you have generated in Cura not to touch the model directly, as the space between prevents the supports from bonding too strongly with the model, which makes it possible to remove the supports easily after the printing process.
On the other hand, as the distance between the support and the model is tied to a variable, a misconfiguration can easily cause the gap to become too large, which would prevent the supports from fulfilling their duty, or non-existent, which would cause the supports to become impossible 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.