When it comes to 3D printing, it can be difficult to get a good first layer without the help of rafts and brims, with certain filaments out there. Once your 3D print is complete, removing the rafts & brims can be troublesome.
I went out and researched how to best remove rafts and brims that are stuck to 3D prints.
You should implement settings that increase the gap distance between your model and the brim or raft structure that you use. Rather than forcing the raft or brim off, you can simply cut them off with the right tools, such as a flat-edged cutting tool.
Keep on reading for more details on how to easily remove rafts and brims from your 3D models, plus more.
What is a Brim & Raft in 3D Printing?
A brim, is a horizontal plane of material attached to the external dimensions of the model.
A raft is a horizontal layer of material that’s deposited on the print bed by the printer before printing the model.
Both these layers serve as the support or foundation on which the model is built on.
A raft covers the entire bottom of the model while a brim only extends out from the model’s outside. They are excess materials and are usually removed after the model is done printing.
They help increase bed adhesion, prevent warping, and provide extra stability for models that may be statically unstable.
Best Ways for Removing Rafts & Brims From 3D Prints
Rafts and brims are very useful during the printing process but after that, they are no longer useful. This is why they have to be removed.
Normally rafts and brims are designed to be easily peeled off, but sometimes they remain stuck to the model.
When that happens, you have to be careful when removing them because using inappropriate methods can damage your model.
Let’s take you through the best ways rafts and brims can be removed without damaging the model.
Using The Proper Software Settings
Using the proper settings when slicing the model can make a world of a difference when it’s time to remove rafts and brims.
Most slicing software comes with its own presets for building rafts and brims but there are still some tricks and tips that can help make things easier. Let’s go through some of them.
There is a setting called the ‘Raft Air Gap’ which you can adjust to make the raft easier to peel off. It is defined as the gap beween the final raft layer and the first layer of the model.
It only raises the first layer by the specified amount to decrease the bonding between the raft layer and the model. Adjusting these type of settings in your slicer will make rafts a lot easier to remove, rather than requiring a special technique to remove it.
The Cura default for the Raft Air Gap is 0.3mm, so try adjusting this to see if it helps.
Make sure the top layer of the raft is built with two or more layers to achieve a smooth surface. This is important because the top layer joins with the bottom of the model and a smooth surface make it easier to remove.
It also gives the bottom of the model a good finish.
If the temperature of your material is a little too high, it can contribute to adhesion between your raft and model, so try lowering your printing temperature
Cutting The Rafts Off
Most people decide to use a needle-nose plier to remove rafts and brims from their 3D prints since they are really effective at removing the thin layers of plastic.
You want to get yourself some high quality pliers to get the job done as best as you can.
A great one that I can recommend is the Irwin Vise-Grip Long Nose Pliers from Amazon. They have a durable nickel chromium steel construction, along with ProTouch grip for extra comfort and ease of use.
They have great reach abilities to get into those harder to reach areas when needed.
Some people also use other tools like a flat-edged cutting tool, a putty knife or even a craft knife to pry away or cut at the raft or brim gradually. This isn’t advised over the needle nosed pliers because you may damage the model when cutting at the bottom of the model.
While you are removing the raft and brim from your model, you want to keep safety in mind the whole time. Make sure you are using the adequate safety equipment.
I recommend at least having some Safety Glasses and No-Cut Gloves from Amazon to protect yourself properly from any plastic that flings all over the place. This is especially recommended when removing supports from your models.
Click the glasses below to check out the Amazon page.
Click the gloves below to check out the Amazon page.
I wrote an article about How to Make 3D Printing Supports Easier to Remove which you can find a lot of useful information in, so feel free to check that out as well.
After you remove rafts and brims from your model, you are likely to be left with rough surfaces, so we are going to want to clear these up. The best way to do that is by sanding the model, which also helps to remove those support bumps as well.
You can create amazing surface finishes when you start implementing sanding into your 3D printing regimine. Some people manually sand their prints, while others have sanding machine tools.
It’s up to you which one you choose.
Check out the WaterLuu 42 Pcs Sandpaper 120 to 3,000 Grit Assortment from Amazon. It has a sanding block to help you easily sand your 3D models and not have to fumble around with the sandpaper.
The electronic tool used for sanding usually comes down to a rotary tool kit which has small, precision pieces that attach onto the tool itself. The WEN 2305 Cordless Rotary Tool Kit from Amazon is a great choice to start with.
Use Soluble Materials
This is a great way to remove rafts and brims, especially if you have a 3D printer with a double extruder.
Certain filaments dissolve when they come in contact with some liquids. These filaments are very useful in building supports.
Filaments like HIPS and PVA can be used to build the raft or brim before printing the model. When the model is done printing, it is immersed in a solution (mostly water) to dissolve the rafts and brims.
Gizmo Dorks HIPS Filament is one example that you’ll see people with dual extruders using as soluble materials. Many reviews mention just how great it works for raft/supports.
This is one of the best methods for removing these support structures without leaving marks on the model. It gets rid of any residual material that may still be on the bottom surface of the model.
If you want to check out some great dual extruder 3D printers, take a look at my article Best Dual Extruder 3D Printers Under $500 & $1,000
When Should You Use a Raft for 3D Printing?
Now that you know how to remove rafts from a model, do you know when you need to use them in the first place? The following are some reasons why you might need to use a raft for your 3D model.
Use a Raft To Eliminate Warping
When printing with some materials like the ABS filament, it’s possible to experience warping on the bottom of the model.
This is caused by the uneven cooling of the model. The part in contact with the print bed cools faster than the rest of the model causing the edges of the model to curl upwards.
Using a raft can help solve this problem.
When printing with a raft, the model is deposited on the plastic raft instead of the print bed. The plastic to plastic contact helps the model cool evenly thereby eliminating warping.
Get Better Print Bed Adhesion With a Raft
When printing some 3D models, they can have trouble sticking to the print bed. This can cause problems leading to print failure. With a raft, these problems are solved.
With a horizontal mesh provided by the raft, the 3D model has a greater chance of sticking to the raft. This reduces the chance of the model’s failure and also gives it a level surface for printing.
Use a Raft to Increased Stability
Some models usually have stability problems due to their design. These stability problems can come in many forms. It can be due to unsupported overhanging sections or tiny load-bearing supports at the base.
With these types of models, using a raft or a brim provides extra support and also helps protect the models against failure.
How Do I 3D Print Without a Raft?
We have seen how useful rafts are and how they can be used to enhance your print.
But using rafts might not be best for some projects due to the material waste they generate and the problems that surface by detaching them.
Let’s take you through some ways you can still print your 3D models without using rafts.
Calibration and Maintenance
Some problems that require you to use a raft can be easily solved by proper calibration and maintenance of the printer. A dirty and poorly calibrated build plate can lead to poor print adhesion.
So before using a raft, consider cleaning your print bed—preferably with an alcohol-based solution—and checking your printer’s settings.
Using A Heated Build Plate
A heated build plate helps keep the model from warping and also ensures firm print adhesion.
The glass build plate works by keeping the temperature of the material just below the glass transition temperature, which is the point where the material solidifies.
This ensures the first layer stays firm and remains connected to the build plate. When using a heated build plate, the temperature of the build plate has to be controlled carefully.
In this case, it’s important to refer to the filament’s manufacturer and find the ideal temperature for the material.
Using Suitable Print Bed Adhesives
Bad print adhesion is one of the major reasons people often use rafts and brims when printing models. Bad print adhesion can be solved by using several types of adhesives.
These adhesives come in several forms like adhesive sprays and tapes. Several of the popular forms of adhesives used are printer tape, blue painter’s tape, and Kapton tape. All these promote print adhesion.
Proper Orientation of the Model
Some parts will require you to print overhangs, which inevitably call for foundational structures like brims and rafts.
However, all that can be avoided if your part orientation is on point. This factor is equally important as other crucial aspects of 3D printing are, such as print resolution, infill pattern, etc.
When your model’s orientation is done properly, you can cut down the need for rafts and brims and print without them instead.
To do this, calibrate your part orientation and try printing anywhere below the 45° angle mark.
I wrote a complete article on the best orientation of parts for 3D printing, so be sure to check that out for more details on this subject.
Use the Ideal Printing Material
Not every 3D printer material is created equal. Some require low temperatures to work with while some may demand you to go higher. At the end of the day, choosing the right material pays off heavily.
PLA, for instance, is an easy-going, biodegradable filament that does not necessarily require a heated bed, and is famous for experiencing low warping. This makes it easier to print with.
Now if we talk about a carbon fiber reinforced PLA, it has even more built-in structural support, therefore being great for more rigid prints.
However, you’ve got other filaments like ABS and Nylon which are well-known to be a lot harder to print with, mainly because they require a higher temperature and lead to being more prone to warping.
PETG is a popular filament for 3D printing, which is great for layer adhesion, though it has been known to stick to the bed quite harshly. If you are using a raft or brim with PETG, you could run into more issues than if you chose PLA.
Nonetheless, you can split a model into different parts so you don’t have to print overhangs that require rafts and brims.
Some people also get great results with bridging and overhangs when they use different types of filaments and brands, so I would definitely try out a few different types until you find your perfect filament.
An article I wrote discusses in detail the Best Filament To Buy on Amazon. Give that a read to find out more.
Get a Good Build Surface
A good build surface is essential if you aim to get great quality prints. It provides your model with an even, flat surface on which the 3D printer can perform at its best.
If you want a perfect first layer too, a build surface that’s similar to the quality of PEI or BuildTak will go a long way for improving the standard of your prints.
Gizmo Dorks PEI Sheet 3D Printer Build Surface from Amazon is a great product that works for most users out there. This surface doesn’t need special prep.
All you need to do is peel back the tape liner and carefully place it ontop of your existing surface, borosolicate glass for example. It already has special 3M 468MP adhesive already applied.
One user described their 3D printer going from ‘zero to hero’, and after discovering this amazing surface, decided to not throw their 3D printer in the trash, and actually grow to love 3D printing.
Another user said its a great upgrade for the Ender 3, getting great adhesion consistently with their prints.
A build surface that isn’t worn out or dusty will make sure your prints are adhering to it properly. This will make the need for support structures out of the question.
Choosing the right build surface can seem very difficult for newcomers and experts alike at times.
This is why I’ve done an article where I discuss the Best 3D Printer Build Surface that you can get for your machine today.