PrusaSlicer is a popular open-source and free slicing software renowned for its rich features. We've previously discussed how to hide the Z-seam with PrusaSlicer. In this blog, we'll delve into another powerful capability of PrusaSlicer and that is 'Organic Support', one of its support structures. We'll guide you through how it works and how to use it to enhance the quality of your 3D prints.
What Is PrusaSlicer's Organic Support?
In FDM 3D printing, a 3D printer extrudes materials layer by layer to create a 3D printed object. Inevitably, complex 3D models may have areas that extend outward without support underneath, referred to as overhangs. During the bottom-up printing motion, overhangs exceeding 45° without support are influenced by gravity, leading to print issues such as layer sagging or collapsing. Support structures act as a base under the suspended parts of the model like overhangs and bridges, ensuring proper deposition without flaws.
In PrusaSlicer, there are three available types of support structures: "Grid", "Snug", and "Organic". Compared to the other two types, organic supports are more flexible, use less material, and make support removal easier. The organic structure resembles tree branches that effectively holds the 3D model. It is very similar to Cura's Tree Support.
However, the organic structure shows weaker stability as it relies on a single hollow trunk to hold the printed part. The other weakness of PrusaSlicer's organic supports is that slicing times are longer, especially for larger models, as the program requires more time for computation. It's important to note that this feature is available in PrusaSlicer version 2.6 or higher and requires an upgrade or download to access.
Recap the pros and cons of the PrusaSlicer organic support structure:
- Reduced material and printing time.
- Simplified support removal.
- Decreased damage to the print surface.
- Less stability due to a single hollow main support.
- Longer slicing times.
How to Enable Organic Supports in PrusaSlicer
In PrusaSlicer, the default support style is "Grid". Activating organic supports in the slicer is quite simple and usually involves just four steps:
How to Use PrusaSlicer's Organic Support Feature
Once the Organic style is activated, several parameters related to organic supports will be unlocked at the bottom. This indicates that you have successfully enabled this feature, but further optimization of the organic support settings may be necessary based on your preferences. Here, we're focusing on the critical settings.
1. Maximum Branch Angle
As the name suggests, it controls the maximum angle of the branches to prevent contact with the model body, but this will increase the difficulty of removing supports. The default value in the slicer is 40°. A higher angle allow the branches to flexibly touch the overhang of the model, while lower angles make the branches more vertical, enhancing stability.
2. Preferred Branch Angle
This parameter is similar to the 'Maximum Branch Angle'. A smaller value makes the branches more vertical, whereas a larger value increases contact points between the support and the model. But the difference is that the parameter is the preferred angle of the branches when they don't need to avoid the model.
3. Branch Diameter
This parameter determines the width of the thinnest branches. A larger value implies stronger supports. If the support is easy to break during printing, increasing this value can be helpful. The default setting is 2mm, which is enough for most normal models.
4. Branch Diameter Angle
It controls the diameter angle of the branches as they extend towards the base. Typically, the thickness of the branches increases towards the bottom. When set at 0°, it means that the thickness at this length remains constant. A slight increase in the angle, around 3-5°, significantly improves the stability of the support structure.
5. Branch Diameter with double walls
It refers to the diameter of branches printed with a double wall for added stability. Setting it to 0mm indicates a branch with a single wall, which can save time and material, although the default 3mm is recommended.
6. Tip Diameter
This refers to the width of the branch tip. The larger the diameter, the greater the contact area. Note that the tip diameter must be larger than the support material extrusion width.
7. Branch Distance
The distance between adjacent support points. The smaller this value, the closer the distance between points, resulting in more connecting points to overhangs. But this will make support removal more challenging.
PrusaSlicer's organic support structure is a powerful feature that offers high flexibility for 3D makers to build high-quality prints. Once this feature is activated, a long list of settings will be available for adjustment, but in most cases, you can directly proceed with the default values for printing. Even if adjustments to these parameters are necessary, it is recommended to make only minor tweaks.
Combined with a reliable 3D printer, your 3D printing results can improve significantly. Anycubic's Kobra 2 Neo is highly recommended for its ease of use, especially for beginners. The Kobra 2 Neo comes at an affordable price, available for less than US$200. Its modular design allows you to start your first print quickly upon unboxing, and the automatic bed leveling system ensures worry-free first layer quality. More importantly, its maximum speed of 250mm/s reduces waiting times compared to many other ordinary printers.