Added supports to an STL I wanted to print for the first time. It even printed out fine… eventually. The first attempt came out as a near solid brick of resin, and required a very messy cleaning out of the resin vat, to remove parts that had stuck to the bottom. It was just a tiny, very simple thing - a space marine shoulder pad - but: yay! I finally did it!


For those unfamiliar with (resin) 3D printing: because 3D printing is done layer-by-layer, and resin printers essentially work upside-down, most models require some form of supports added to the model before it will print OK in a resin printer. These act as scaffolding holding an area of the model being in place while any surrounding geometry is cured, preventing “islands” (areas of a model not connected to the rest of the model on that layer) from sticking to the bottom of the resin vat when the build plate is raised. Resin stuck to the bottom of the vat is a very bad thing - 1, your model will be incomplete, if it prints at all, and 2, it can lead to a broken printer. So: supports are important! See below for an example of an excellent, professionally supported model:

a screenshot of a 3D model in slicer software, with professionally added supports

A professionally supported commercial STL file, ready to print

I’ve been putting off trying to support models by myself; mistakes take a long time to discover and a massive pain to clean up. Most commercial models come “pre-supported” - a professional has already done the work. But I still have plenty models in my library which are by hobbyists and come unsupported; if I want to print those, I have to learn how to do it, so I’m going to have try. I watched a couple of videos on YouTube to get an idea of what I need to do, then just gave it a shot in Lychee, checking the output in UVTools regularly to make sure I hadn’t missed any unsupported islands.

Despite this checking, and creating a supposedly perfect setup, my first print failed. Badly. I think it was because I didn’t raise the model up high enough from the raft, which combined with the suction force created by the type of raft I chose, compounded three problems - partial peeling away from the build plate, deformation caused by too few supports, and close-together parts fusing together when exposed (in this case the raft, supports, and model). Like I said, it came out like a solid block with bumps where the tops of the pads should be, after 1h 45 minutes in the printer. Much swearing, and spending my lunch break cleaning things up followed.

Going back to the drawing board: I raised the model up, added lots more - but thinner - supports (probably more than I needed), and changed the raft type to one which wouldn’t act like a suction cup. 2h 19 minutes later and I had a very successful print!

An upturned 3D printer build plate, showing a batch of 60 studded Space Marine shoulder pads, in the style of Mk 6  marines from the Horus Heresy: Age of Darkness boxset. They have been printed in a dark grey resin

An amateurly supported STL file, printed 60 times