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Interested in designing effective support structures into models

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I'd like to design my own support structures into some models. Cura's automated supports work well usually, but I figure it'll save time & material if I draw supports into the part.

I have some ideas of how to proceed, but I figured ask around here first:

1) How to make a support wall be very easy to remove, leaving few artifacts?

2) How best to support a flat horizontal surface, yet the support removes cleanly?

3) If I'm printing the same part 50 times, is it feasible to print supports separately and reuse them repeatedly (dropping these supports in place after pausing at Z)? What material to use for such supports, so that maybe the item's material won't bond with it?




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Maybe not direct answers to your questions, but Ryan (meshmixer author/inventor) has done some fabulous work on support structures. You could look at this presentation for ideas:


For your question 3, I think it might work for very simpme models where the support structure is not too complex and did not interfere with head movement during build. What if you printed such a support structure and coated it with something that could be rinsed off with warm water. Not sure exactly what though...

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