Using supports in 3D printing is, for the most part, something we all look to avoid as much as we can, as it adds extra and unpleasant work to the process and increases the likelihood of something going wrong during the print, even causing the print to fail in more severe cases.
On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that the experience of using supports always needs to be tedious, as, with a few careful adjustments to the parameters that allow you to determine how the slicer will construct the support structures, it’s possible to make supports a lot more reliable and easy to handle.
In today’s article, our topic will be the support overhang angle parameter in Cura, which is one of the support-related settings that can easily make or break your print depending on how it’s configured due to its impact on how support structures are generated, requiring careful optimization.
So, what is the support overhang angle parameter in Cura?
The support overhang angle parameter in Cura is responsible for specifying the minimum angle value that Cura will utilize to insert supports under overhangs, essentially acting as the primary determinant for whether support structures will be generated or not based on the angle of the overhang.
Next up, we will examine the purpose of the support overhang angle parameter of Cura in greater detail, find out how to locate it in Cura’s print settings and configure it as optimally as possible, and finally, take a glance at the best support overhang angle value specifically for the Ender 3.
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What Is Support Overhang Angle in Cura?
The support overhang angle parameter in Cura is one of the essential support settings that you will need to configure precisely to be able to use supports successfully, as an incorrect configuration can easily cause the entire support generation to fail.
In a nutshell, we can describe the support overhang angle parameter in Cura as the breakpoint that Cura will use to decide whether it should place a support structure under a particular portion of an overhang based on the angle of the overhang at that specific point.
As a result, Cura will insert support structures at any point of the overhang where the angle is higher than the specified support overhang angle value and instruct the 3D printer to print all the portions of the overhang where the angle is lower without using any supports.
For instance, when printing a curved overhang that has an angle of 70 degrees at its highest point and an angle of 25 degrees at its lowest point with a support overhang value of 45 degrees, supports will only be generated in the area that falls between the points where the overhang has an angle of 45 degrees and where it goes up to 70 degrees.
Now, if you decrease the support overhang angle to be lower than 45 degrees, you will immediately observe that there is more support being generated, with areas that did not have supports before having supports beneath them.
As a result, the amount of material and time required for the print will increase, and there will be more support scars on the surface of the model, but the chance that the overhang ends up sagging will be less.
On the other hand, if you decide to go the opposite way and increase the support overhang angle value to be higher than 45 degrees, you will notice that there is less support being generated, with fewer areas of the overhang being covered with support structures.
In this case, the amount of material and time that goes into the print and the support scars on the model’s surface will be significantly reduced, but at the same time, the chance that sagging may occur will become higher.
How to Optimally Configure the Support Overhang Angle in Cura?
Fortunately, getting the support overhang angle correct value does not involve a technically complex process like many other parameters and, in fact, follows a straightforward rule that you can quickly use to perform the optimal configuration.
We recommend following the 45-degree rule when configuring the support overhang angle parameter in Cura for the first time, which is a general 3D printing rule stating that you should print overhangs with angles greater than 45 degrees with support structures beneath them for best results.
Afterward, you can further refine the support overhang angle value based on the results you collected from your prints, decreasing the value if you face quality issues (such as sagging) when printing overhangs with less than 45-degree angles without supports or even increasing it to find out whether your 3D printer can handle printing steeper overhangs without the usage of support structures.
Finally, to see precisely how the support structures will look before actually printing the model, you can always switch to the Preview tab of Cura after slicing, and, in fact, you can use the preview as a visual guide for further refining the support overhang angle parameter as best as you can before you move forward with the printing process.
One thing to keep in mind when experimenting with the support overhang angle is that using a value that is lower than optimal will end up with wasted time and material on printing unnecessary supports and cleaning them up, whereas using a value that is higher than optimal can cause the print to completely fail due to the overhangs sagging, or even collapsing.
How to Find and Modify the Support Overhang Angle in Cura?
As the support overhang angle parameter is one of the basic parameters in Cura that is available from the start without any modifications required, finding it and performing the needed adjustments is a process that shouldn’t take more than a few seconds.
Below, you can find a step-by-step guide that you can follow to find the support overhang angle parameter in Cura and modify it according to your needs:
- Click the Prepare tab located on the top side of the Cura window.
- Click the pane on the right to bring up the Print Settings dialog.
- Click the Custom button if it’s available; else, skip this step.
- Click the icon next to the search input (the one with three horizontal lines) and choose All from the dropdown menu to make all Cura settings visible.
- Type “support overhang angle” into the search input and press Enter.
- Type the value of your choice into the Support Overhang Angle input box.
What Is the Best Support Overhang Angle Value for the Ender 3 (Pro/V2)?
As many members of the 3D printing community use the Ender 3 due to how popular the printer is, we will be talking about configuring the overhang angle value specifically for the Ender 3 in this section to make things easier for those who are looking for a quick answer.
In the case of configuring the support overhang angle parameter for the Ender 3, our recommendation would be to stick to the 45-degree rule and utilize a value of 45 degrees, which will act as a balanced value that will ensure your overhangs never end up sagging or collapsing.
While we have successfully gone up to a value of 55 degrees in our tests over time, we only recommend utilizing such higher values if you are prepared to experiment thoroughly and accept print failure as a possibility, as there are many other print settings that you will need to configure precisely for your Ender 3 to be able to print stepper overhangs without supports.
While the support overhang angle is one of the most vital support settings you absolutely need to get right to print successfully with supports, both finding the optimal value and applying the configuration in Cura are straightforward tasks you can go through without spending too much time.
To quickly recap, the support overhang angle parameter in Cura allows you to determine whether supports will be generated for overhangs based on their angles, with the usage of lower values causing support structures to be generated for even gentle overhangs, and the usage of higher values causing only steep overhangs to have supports.
As a result, configuring the support overhang angle parameter is essential to successfully print overhangs, as misconfiguring it will have adverse effects ranging from a considerable waste of time and material due to the printing of unnecessary support structures to complete print failure as a result of the overhangs collapsing.
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.