Seeing how much support material was discarded after traditional print jobs on our dimension machine, we decided to explore ways of integrating both the support and structure material into a final product.
The result is a toy rabbit printed directly into its packaging. In this process we observed several things about the inner workings of our 3D printer:
1.While adding a flat plane to the database prompted the 3D printer to print a solid volume of support as expected, the details of this support structure were not cubic as we had hoped. The default tool paths created a form with a rhombus base that tapered to square at the top. Changing the support structure settings from “sparse” to “basic” created a more uniform structure with about 3 degrees of draft.
2. Each printed layer of the support is slightly offset from the one below, creating a slanted “grain” which repeats with a ~50 step cycle.
3. Modifying “Overhangs” in the solid material from a “T” shape cross-section to a “V” cross section eliminated the need for support material. No support is needed if the vertical walls are kept somewhere between 45 degrees and ninety degrees.