3D printing unique objects with large overhangs and bridges often requires the printing of support materials.
Supports break away (hopefully) from your print when it is finished. However, supports add time and material to the print, and can leave the surface of your print rough where it connected with the supports. People who print on 3DHubs will want to save time and material when printing.
While changing the orientation of the print may help with support issues, using supports is not a favorite option for any 3D printer.
But what if there was a way to 3D print an item without having to deal with the mess and waste of support material?
In a few Facebook post I have seen other printers save their 3D prints from failure by gluing loose supports back in place; while others have mentioned in a post using clay to salvage a support that was about to fail.
All of these methods came to mind as I was working on a badge design for a client. This particular print had to be printed flat on the side with a massive flat bridge to produce the shiny effect of the packing tape covering the build plate.
The first item I printed failed, as the filament clumped and twisted badly over the unsupported bridging surface.
From my experience with nanodax I learned that clear packing tape would produce the shiny surface finish my client desired on the outer edge. I then realized that I can use any other item covered in packing tape, placed inside the print, to support the large bridge and give me a smooth inset surface!
I scrounged around and found a bubble wrap envelope that was about the thickness needed.
I marked on the build plate where I wanted the support to be based on the failed print. I taped a section of bubble wrap inside the area I wanted to support.
My second print went better, but I realized as the print started bridging that the support was too thin. I had popped all the bubbles of the support, which had flattened it too much.
For the 3d attempt I actually bothered to measure the depth of the piece I was printing, and found some old flyers that I cut to fit the support I wanted.I started the print, and then paused when the outer perimeter was finished. I taped the paper support in the space to bridge, and resume printing.
The result was better than the others, though the tape bubbled up a bit, producing an uneven finish.
It took a couple attempts, but I did finish with a badge that had the desired results. Both the primary surface and inset surface of the badge came out with a shiny finish. While this method needs refinement, it may be something that 3D printers on 3DHubs may consider if they have a large bulk order of parts to print. It can also be useful when you have large prints with massive overhangs or bridges.
In the future I plan to experiment with other build plate support methods. Stay tuned for more experiments!
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