How to 3D print without a raft: complexities and their simple solutions

Starting a 3D print project without a raft is a difficult but rewarding step that can be done with the right approach. Most often, people ask the question “how to print 3D without a raft?” because this method has a number of advantages, such as reduced material consumption (since the raft is usually thrown away at the end of the 3D printing process).

This allows you to reduce the time allotted for additional processing. On top of that, you will have a high-quality print on the bottom surface as they are printed directly on the smooth glass surface.

What do you need to consider in order to understand how to 3D print without a raft?

To begin with, let’s understand what a raft is and why it is needed for 3D printing.

  • A raft in 3D printing is a flat, thick structure placed around the outside of your 3D print. It exists in order to create a base for printing and adhesion of the product to the surface.
  • In addition, the raft protects perfectly the product from the heat generated by the working plate and also has a large adhesive surface area.This area, by the way, can be increased through the “Expert” and “Raft Extra Margin” settings (15 mm is set there by default). The size of the raft is usually predetermined, usually, it extends beyond the boundaries of the product by a few millimeters.
  • Also, after manufacturing, the product printed on a 3D printer must harden. The raft can help avoid twisting, bending, or other deformation of the 3D print.
  • After cooling the product, the raft can be easily removed, which is a big plus in its use. If you find it difficult to detach it, use the Raft Air Gap setting, which is set to 0.3 mm by default, but you can increase it to make it easier to detach from the product.
  • A raft is worth using if you are new to the 3D printing process and can make a mistake in the calibration, and also if the build plate of your 3D printer has surface defects (deformation, scratches). A software slicer will help you automatically determine if you need a raft for a given sample.
  • However, we highly recommend using rafts for long, complex, or bulky 3D printing, as there is nothing worse than noticing a print defect during the manufacturing process and feeling helpless.

Where is a 3D print raft needed, and when can it get in the way?

  • A raft is definitely needed when it comes to 3D printing large complex models or spherical models that do not have a flat surface. For the same reason, it should be used when printing with many layouts, wobbly product bases, and tall models.
  • The material also plays a role: a raft is definitely needed for an ABS filament (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, one of the most common materials used in 3D printing) since there is a high probability of product deformation. With other filaments, you can experiment with the printing process without a raft.
  • The raft is necessary if you decide to fix a previously deformed product on the print bed, often this has a successful result.
  • The rafts can hold you back if you’re in a hurry – you’ll need more time to print and extra filament, and in the end, you’ll have a hard time removing the raft from the item if it sticks.
  • Raft is also not recommended for small models and models with a stable base.

How to 3D print without a raft: important tips

If you have decided that you can do without a raft, we offer you a number of recommendations that will make your work easier and help you avoid disappointment with the result.

  1. Z-SUITE setup
  • To reduce the risk of deformation of your product, it is logical to start with good print orientation calculations. The wrong orientation can reduce the bed adhesion of the model, which will make printing more dangerous. Curvature is unlikely to occur if the area of ​​attachment to the work surface is small, but it is better to be on the safe side.
  • Adjust the infill level. If you are worried about deformation due to the non-standard shape of the product, you are afraid that it will slip off the platform – choose a honeycomb infill pattern. With this mode, the chance of deformation is greatly reduced.
  • The Brim option will also help you avoid warping. This option uses an additional layer of material to cover the model, it is printed along with the first layer of the object.
    1. Calibration and settings
  • For non-raft printing, you need to accurately calibrate the print bed. This will also help reduce the likelihood of product deformation. If you are using a glass build plate, you will need manual calibration. To do this, adjust the platform relative to the nozzle using the platform screws (tighten and loosen them to achieve the desired location).
  • Detailed on-screen instructions are available during calibration. To start calibration, select the Tools menu, then Platform, then Manual Calibration. Note that the M300 Dual can use Automatic Calibration.
  1. A very important aspect: keep the workplace clean (especially the print bed).

For the correct operation of the 3D printer, you need to clean the glass working plate from dust, dirt, and consumable residues. To ensure a quality print result, the plate must be as smooth and even as possible.

You may also be interested: How to paint PLA on one’s own

  1. Be mindful of the printing temperature during the printing process.

To avoid defects, it is necessary to permanently monitor the temperature in the working room. It should be the constant print temperature in the range of 21-28 °C (70 – 82° F).

If it is impossible to maintain such a temperature, there is a way out – isolate the print chamber from the environment using the HEPA Cover and side covers set. With these accessories, you can not worry about the printing temperature in any season of the year and get wonderful models.

  1. Use glue/glue stick!

If you are concerned about the possibility of poor adhesion and slippage of the product from the working panel during 3D printing, then you should try covering the glass plate with a layer of glue. It can be a glue stick, glue spray, or sometimes even regular hairspray used! It sounds strange, but in practice, it is a very effective way.

how to 3D print without a raft: the best user guide of 2022
  • When spreading the glue stick, remember that the layer should be thin and lie evenly to keep the platform uniform.
  • If you choose to use spray adhesive or hairspray, be sure to first unplug the heatbed cable and remove the platform. The spray should be sprayed at a distance of at least 15 cm from the surface. After spraying, wait for the solvent to evaporate before reinstalling the platform completely.

Remember, you can only start spraying when the platform is completely cool!

Valuable advice: how to print 3D without supports

There are several life hacks on how to make 3D printing possible without the support, which we are in a hurry to share with you:

The rule “below 45 degrees”

It turns out that any model, all angles of which are less than 45 degrees, can be 3D printed even at home without any support. This is an ideal working solution, although at first additional design and cutting in the program may seem like redundant steps. However, in reality, you save time on clearing the support structures.

What’s the secret? If all angles are less than 45 degrees while 3D printing without supports, your 3D printer prints layer after layer, moving less than 50% each time. Due to this, at least half of the area of ​​the new layer is connected to the previous one and remains in place, no deformation occurs, since there is something to fix.

Make the background your mainstay!

However, complex objects can be shaped so that angles greater than 45 degrees cannot be avoided. If this is about your project, try to analyze the model in such a way as to use the background as support. This will give you the opportunity to get the desired thin models without the use of support.

  • Anyone involved in 3D modeling is also a sculptor, as one has to figure out how to avoid warping the product due to the weight of certain parts. To be sure of success, use a background or third-party objects to maintain balance in your composition.
  • Folds of clothing, hair, pieces of furniture, and pillows are items used by many users to stabilize the figure without additional support. You can also experiment with the poses and placement of the subject to balance the design. Everything is limited only by your imagination!

Bridge Rule

To avoid support, use a valuable structure such as a bridge. Any bridge with a length of 5 mm or more can be 3D printed without support.

  • Important! Remember to reduce the speed while printing the bridge. The slower your printer prints, the better and smoother the final result will be. The layers will merge, making the design neater and more durable.
  • Tip:If your bridge is larger than 5 mm, you can make it much easier to print. In case the bridge looks complicated, but your design can be flipped 90 degrees when printing, take advantage of this, you will be able to do it without additional supports. Note that this will not work if the bridge is uneven or requires many layers of filament.

What to do if you realize that printing without a raft and supports is not your story?

So, you figured out our recommendations and realized that you still need support. How to minimize or simplify the use of additional supports?

3D printing with soluble supports

  • Today, materials such as HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) or PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) are available, which are positioned as soluble supports. They are great time savers and easy to use. These additional filaments are soluble in water or limonene. In the end, this material can be dissolved by placing the product in a container with the desired solvent.

Read also: creating tiny details: How small can 3D printers print?

Use a round or oval raft.

  • In most cases, this is sufficient, and no additional support is needed. This form increases the adhesion of the model to the print bed.

You can risk breaking the 45-degree rule if the angle is not right.

  • But you must make sure you follow all the precautions.

Pay attention to the speed of the printer.

  • You can almost always improve print quality simply by slowing down the print speed.

Sometimes cutting the model in half when printing can be effective.

  • But additional gluing will take you time.
  • General advice: if you still need to add supports, add them in areas that will not significantly spoil the look of the model when removed. For example, if the deformation occurs due to a raft from the bottom of the figure, then it can be polished and nothing will be noticeable.

New technologies: 3D printing in the air without supports

Recently, the University of Illinois invented a unique technique for 3D printing in the air. The new 3D printer doesn’t print layer by layer, instead, it creates a network of isomalt ribbons and prints complex shapes around them like a spider.

The technology is not yet available for use at home, but it will soon save time and nerves for many users.

Read also: How to remove screen printing from clothes?

Conclusion

In this review, we talked about printing techniques without a raft and additional supports, and also suggested how to make it easier for yourself if you cannot do without supports. We hope that you have selected a couple of working tips for yourself, and we also wish that the results of 3D printing always meet your expectations.

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