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Getting Support Right: How Proper Placement and Orientation Can Save Your Resin Prints

One of the biggest challenges for newcomers to resin 3D printing is getting prints to fully form without any deformations or failures. Unlike FDM printing where filament strands are progressively laid down, each resin print starts out fully formed right from the vat. This makes proper supporting absolutely critical for resin print success.

Poorly placed or oriented supports is one of the leading causes of failed resin prints. When supports are inadequate, prints can partially cure but end up detaching, warping, or collapsing into a deformed mess. No matter how well calibrated your resin and exposure is, lack of supports where needed can easily ruin your print.

In this article, we’ll dive into the common problems caused by poor support use, discuss optimal orientation, and share tips to help you master supporting resin prints.

Common Support Problems That Lead to Print Failure


Supports act as stabilizing scaffolds and connection points to hold your print steady as it emerges from the vat. Without them placed appropriately, here are some typical failures that can happen:

  • Peeling – Supports detach partially or fully from the build plate or print. This causes the print to peel away mid-print.

  • Warping – Uneven curing from unmatched supports can create internal stresses, causing print layers to deform and warp.

  • Sagging – Overhangs and islands without direct support below can droop, fold, or collapse from gravity.

  • Weak points – Spots without sufficient supports become weak points that fracture easily under forces during printing.

  • Scarring – Sections of the print that peel can leave behind cured resin scars on finished surfaces.

  • Shifting – Inadequate supports can allow the print to sway on the plate, causing shifts between layers.

Optimizing Print Orientation for Support Needs

Once you’ve oriented your 3D model on the build plate can make a huge difference in the number and type of supports needed. Consider the following when orienting:

  • Minimize overhangs – Flipping the print to reduce unsupported overhangs and islands requiring mid-air supports.

  • Align to shape – Aligned upright, prints may not need supports. Laying flat can introduce overhangs.

  • Distribute weight – Balancing surface area touching the plate vs overhangs can optimize stability.

  • Consider components – Orient so the most critical surfaces and details print with the least supports.

  • Plan removal - Some orientations make final part removal and support cleanup easier than others.

  • Maximize adhesion – Larger surface area adhered directly to the plate provides a more robust base.

  • Avoid suction - Model orientation can reduce suction forces that make separation tricky after printing.

  • Reduce distortions – Uniformly distribute distortions from curing forces by strategic orientation.

Tips for Placing Supports Optimally

Once you’ve oriented your model smartly, it’s time to actually generate and place the supports. Here are some best practices to follow:

  1. Use auto-supports first as a starting point, then supplement and adjust manually where needed. The software algorithms are very good these days.

  2. Place more supports than you think necessary, especially for large surface area prints. You can always remove extra supports later if not needed.

  3. Focus on islands, overhangs, and protruding sections first to provide foundations.

  4. Use heavier supports touching the build plate for stability and lighter branching supports for harder to reach spots.

  5. Angle supports for a progressive stair-stepped look, which reduces suction and clinging.

  6. Check interfaces between supports and print for gaps where curing could fail. Close any gaps.

  7. Make sure unsupported overhang angles are no more than 30 degrees for resin prints. More causes sagging.

  8. Add venting cutouts through solid volumes to allow interior resin flows and prevent trapping.

  9. test your support strategy with smaller print test models to check viability before larger prints.

What Support Settings Impact Quality

The specific settings and strategies used when generating print supports also influence success:

  • Density - Denser supports prevent sagging but use more material. Optimize for the area being supported.

  • Diameter - Thicker supports provide more surface adhesion but reduce fine detail resolution.

  • Tip Style – The shape of support touchpoint tips affects surface finish. Conical works best.

  • Height - Taller supports must be sturdier to avoid swaying at height, but too tall wastes resin.

  • Paths - Jagged support paths require more resin but separate easier from prints after.

  • Interfaces - Higher contact area between supports and model improves adhesion.

  • Generation method - Custom edited supports often outperform strictly auto-generated ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know where supports are needed on a model?

Focus on overhangs, islands, protrusions and any sections that are not self-supporting. Also check for large flat areas that may sag without enough supports.

Should I use auto-generated or manual supports?

Use auto-supports as a starting point, then manually add and adjust as needed for your specific model geometry. Combination is best.

What's the ideal overhang angle for resin?

Anything over 30 degrees should be supported. Angles between 15-30 degrees may benefit from lighter supports depending on the print area and model shape.

How can I reduce suction that makes support removal hard?

Angle supports in a stairstep pattern which reduces surface contact. Also use dense touchpoint tips like cones rather than flat.

By considering all the guidelines and fine tuning orientation, supports, and settings, you can almost eliminate printing failures due to poor supports with resin 3D printing. Carefully calibrating supports will pay back with higher first-print success rates.