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Optimising support structures: Central repository for advice: PVA, Breakaway

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Posted (edited) · Optimising support structures: Central repository for advice: PVA, Breakaway

I've posted a couple of queries about the workings of PVA and Breakaway. In the course of this, I've been encouraged to explore the mind-boggling array of options in Cura for tweaking support structures. This would suggest that, within the Ultimaker/Cura community, there are people who have given a lot of thought to how support structures can be optimised. However, a moderately experienced operative like myself is just bemused as I look at the checklist of options.


I now have a decent amount of experience with printing supports in either PLA or Breakaway. Some initial thoughts


1.  It's generally easiest to print supports in Breakaway, which is easier to store (not hygroscopic) and stable to print.

2.  If the support structure has relatively narrow slots/crevices/indentations it can nbe hellish getting the Breakaway out, and I have deliberately used PVA on occasions to get round this problem.

3.  Breakaway does require a certain amount of force to release it, so it is not suitable for supporting fragile/thin designs. But this raises the question of whether there are choices within Cura which will reduce the adhesion between Breakaway and supported surface. There are options to do with Z distances which suggest you can widen the key gap - but just how far can one go with widening this?

4.  There are a whole lot of issues to do with PVA's chemical composition. It absorbs moisture and starts printing badly as a consequence. How best to store? Does it age badly? I had past problems with clogged BB nozzles, though this may have been brought about by my inexperience.

5.  Whereas I have printed support structures in Breakaway which have gone up to the 120 mm height region, I don't think I have ever got a PVA structure to print above 400/500.  I've discovered an option which allows one to print a brim specifically round the support structure which may help me a bit. However, I sense that, even with a prime tower, PVA structures tend to be sensitive to sideways pressures from the printing process (some relatively narrow PVA columns have recently been knocked off the vertical pretrty easily).


As far as I am concerned, there are a whole range of issues with support structures and I don't know anywhere to turn to for serious advice on optimising this part of the printing process.


I'll use this strand to feed my further experiences in. I hope the Ultimaker/Cura team can provide some tips as well

Edited by FalmouthLouis

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Posted (edited) · Optimising support structures: Central repository for advice: PVA, Breakaway

What works quite well is to only print the support interfaces with Breakaway.  That avoids the mess Breakaway often makes, with curls of filament everywhere and sometimes stuck in the print. It also minimizes the use of the rather expensive Breakaway filament, as well as reducing print times (by reducing nozzle changes). Thereby you also avoid problems with tall support structures, as these will be printed with the "normal" filament anyway. I imagine that this could also work with PVA, but I don't have too much experience with that.

Edited by P3D

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