Removing supports from your resin 3D prints can be a tricky task if you don’t know the best methods to get it done. To set people on the right path, I decided to write this article because I remember how difficult this task was in the early days.
To remove supports from your resin 3D prints, make sure to remove them before curing because they will be softer and easier to break. Use good resin support settings such as a reduced tip diameter and less large supports if you can. You can submerge your resin print in warm water, then pull supports off easier.
This is the basic answer, but there are more details that you’ll want to know to do this task successfully. Keep reading for more information about removing supports from resin 3D prints.
How Do You Remove Supports From Resin 3D Prints?
Removing supports from resin 3D prints could be a messy job but if you know the right way, it is not that hard.
The best way to remove supports from resin 3D prints is to remove them all before curing them. Some people soak their resin print in a container of warm water to soften the supports, making them easier to remove.
This method will allow you to get rid of supports while minimizing any damages or supports marks. Although this method could be beneficial, below is the method that is widely used by resin 3D printer users.
- When it comes to removing supports of resin 3D prints, the first step is to clean your print model thoroughly of any excess resin
- Use isopropyl alcohol or any other cleaning products for cleaning purposes.
- The best method used by the pros is to wash your prints in a washing station or ultrasonic cleaner
- Try to keep your print in the cleaning solution for at least three minutes (times vary depending on the size and type of 3D print model).
- Take your prints out of your cleaning station and let them air dry.
- Once your resin 3D print has dried and is clean, you can then remove the supports.
Some people leave their finished resin 3D print inside their 3D printer for a while, but the longer you leave your print, the more the resin will air-cure, making it harder to remove supports.
Should You Remove Supports Before or After Curing?
Many people wonder how they remove resin or SLA supports from their prints, whether they remove supports before curing or after curing.
You should remove supports from resin 3D prints before curing because uncured resin plastic is a lot softer than cured resin plastic, making it easier to remove. Removing supports from cured prints is likely to leave more marks and break important parts of the model.
Removing Supports Before Curing
This is the method practiced by almost all experienced resin 3D printer users. It is popular among users because of its convenience, ease, and perfect results. After removing your print from the build plate:
- Wash your resin 3D print using your usual washing solution – container with isopropyl alcohol/2-in-one washing machine/ultrasonic cleaner
- Let the print dry for a little
- Submerge your resin 3D print in warm water
- Gently press and pull the attached supports to remove them
- Supports should easily pop off the print
- You can brush your print with a soft toothbrush as well to help clean up any residue left behind on the print
- Let the print dry then expose your print to UV light using your chosen curing solution – a Wash & Cure Station is a great choice for this.
Once user tried removing supports on the same model before curing and after curing as a test. The one before curing took 1 minute and 40 seconds to remove the supports, while the model after curing took a whopping 9 minutes and 20 seconds!
Apart from the time-saving, you save plenty of frustration with removing stubborn supports, as well as improving the quality of the print since you’ll have less support marks.
This leads to less post-processing and clean up.
If you have multiple 3D prints or need high quality, this is the method you’ll definitely want to use. Imagine how much time will be saved if you are going to remove supports from a miniature army of 30 soldiers.
So, without any doubt, this is the best method and you should definitely remove supports before the curing process.
Removing Supports After Curing
To ensure the integrity of some prints, a few 3D printer companies recommend removing supports once the print is cured.
To remove supports in this way:
- Remove your model from the build plate and wash it as usual
- Let it dry then cure the model with a good amount of time to cure all around
- Once the 3D print is cured, start cutting off supports using a set of flush cutters or pliers.
- It is recommended to wear eye protection glasses during this process because when the resin is cut, it can easily fling around the room and potential towards your face.
Removing supports in this manner can often result in breakage or damaging a part of the print and take a relatively long time as well.
You may also have to do some extra post-processing to remove supports marks that may be visible afterwards.
One resin 3D printer user printed a dwarf model but while removing the support material, accidentally broke the arm off the model, since he didn’t realize the distance between the dwarf’s arm and the handle of the axe.
A lot of the support material had to even be left behind because it was very hard to remove within those nooks and crannies.
A good move could be to remove the basic supports which aren’t attached to delicate parts, then cure your model with the necessary supports still on. This should allow you to get the best of both worlds, though would be more time-consuming.
As mentioned, a problem with removing supports with cutting rather than peeling off is how small pieces of supports can easily fling around the room.
This is why you should wear Safety Glasses – Anti-Fog & Anti-Scratch (Amazon) whenever you remove supports from a model.
You also have to keep in mind that if you have pets or children nearby, they may be tempted to put those resin pieces in their mouth which can be harmful, especially if uncured.
I’d advise you to have a separate workspace which is away from commonly used areas if possible. You could even remove supports within some kind of small enclosure that has a see through top, so that no pieces can fling around.
Overall, I’d advise to remove supports before curing so you can mostly peel off the supports and keep them in order.
Can You 3D Print Resin Without Supports?
When it comes to 3D printing, some people ask, do you need supports for resin printing, do SLA printers need supports, or can you 3D print your models using resin without adding supports?
It is possible to 3D print resin without supports, but you are usually better off when using supports. Resin prints require supports if your designed model has large overhanging parts such as axes, swords, and limbs. Supports are included to provide a strong foundation to such parts of the model.
You can print different parts of the model as separate files and then glue them together. This process can allow you to use fewer supports or may even allow you to print without any supports.
Experts recommend adding supports for your resin print because it will only cost you a small amount of resin but will offer you a lot of benefits.
I wrote an article about gluing resin 3D prints together which you can check out here – Best Glues for Your Resin 3D Prints – How to Fix Them Properly.
If you see its benefits in the long run, you will realize that supports eventually saves you resin instead of wasting it as your print’s success rate increases immensely.
Many 3D prints fail because of a lack of supports or because they weren’t placed in the right areas.
I recommend that you add more supports and bracings in your slicer than you need at first, then as you get more experience you can start to reduce unnecessary supports. These can usually be added using auto-support settings in a slicer like LycheeSlicer.
I’d also try to use “Medium” & “Heavy” supports on your models as long as there is enough space for it to fit, since they usually will increase your chances of printing success.