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My printed parts consist rafts, supports and other extraneous filament when printing with ABS or PLA.

What are efficient general techniques of removing them?

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    $\begingroup$ Can you describe the support structure style, the plastic being used, and whether you're planning on doing further finishing? $\endgroup$ – Adam Davis Jan 12 '16 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ You should identify a specific issue in your question. There are many (well-known) techniques for doing this, why do the techniques that you already know of not work for you? $\endgroup$ – Tom van der Zanden Jan 13 '16 at 10:19
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The best way to get rid of them is to change the design of the printed object to make them unnecessary.

Instead of printing the one part with support material, the piece can be split into two or more parts which can be printed without support material and assembled after the printing.


Given that this is not always fully possible, a convenient way to get rid of additional structures is to use a different fillament for them that can be removed easily. This list of printing materials includes Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA), which is water soluble. You can wash the support material away given that your actual printign material is not water soluble. Here's a quote from the website (emphasize mine):

PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) filament prints translucent with a slightly yellow tint and is primarily used as a 3D printing support material because it is water-soluble, meaning that it will dissolve when exposed to water (and so MUST be kept dry prior to use). PVA is most often used with 3D printers capable of dual extrusion: one extruder printing a primary material (such as ABS or PLA) and the other printing this dissolvable filament to provide support for overhanging features. PVA 3D printer filament is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.

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Increasing the distance between the support/raft and the print should allow for easier removal. Some slicers (such as Slic3r) have settings for 0.0 mm spacing for water dissoluble supports, and 0.2 mm for regular plastic supports.

Changing the upper surface of the support also can help. Some slicers will leave the support as lines all the way to contact with the print. Others will put a full layer on the top of the support before the print. The full layer allows for better adhesion and the print not falling between the lines, but it makes it harder to remove.

When the raft/support is done with lines, putting pressure on the lines in the opposite direction should cause them to break off. As you break some of the outer ones, the support can be pulled down which will continuously rip the support off. There may be a few pieces that remain. These can be removed with wood chisels. Sliding the pointed end between the support and the print will cut into the plastic which removes the support. Note: always push the chisel away from you as it may slip. You do not want a sharp blade moving uncontrollably towards your body./

A raft with a solid top: Raft with solid top from Slic3r

A raft with only lines for the top: Raft with no top (only lines) from Slic3r

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  • $\begingroup$ You might also note the pro's and con's for each one with regard to surface finish, removability, and other machine variables. $\endgroup$ – tbm0115 Jan 12 '16 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ I really like this answer, but at the same time, I think this only partially answers the question. The question was about techniques to remove rafts/supports. This answer is about how to make them easier to remove. If you add a section on hardware and techniques for removal, you will have my +1. $\endgroup$ – Scott Lemmon Jan 13 '16 at 16:34
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I use diagonal cutters and a pair of mini pliers. I print with Simplify3d and the support structures are remarkably easy to remove, I find giving a quick pull pops most off. The diagonal cutters get rid of any small beads leftover.

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  • $\begingroup$ For the last few pieces that don't want to come off some coarse grit sand paper can help smooth the surface as well. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Jan 13 '16 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ That works well but it should be noted this frequently causes bleaching on areas sanded which may not be desired. Also removing supports may cause small white dimples or pimples where the supports were melted to the part. $\endgroup$ – Pete Jan 14 '16 at 12:36
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I usually use a chisel or a flat-head screwdriver to easily remove the bottom plate that the printer auto-generates. I would also suggest using something like wire cutters or some mini pliers to pull them off.

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