Save Material And Reduce Time – GrabCAD Print SMART Supports for Stratasys FDM 3D Printers

By Andrew Sink on

GrabCAD Print is a very powerful program for converting a CAD model into a toolpath for 3D printing, and it has some features that can help you get the most out of your Stratasys FDM 3D printer. One of these is the SMART Support feature, which allows you to create a custom support structure that uses less material and takes less time than a traditional support structure.

SMART Supports SettingsDue to the additive nature of most 3D printing technologies, it’s often the case that we need to add support material to our prints for them to complete successfully. This support material acts as a temporary scaffolding that can be broken, dissolved or manually removed after the printing process is finished. Stratasys FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) 3D printers use a soluble support material on most of their machines which can be dissolved away after printing.

When using a SPARSE Support structure, the support material prints as a monolithic block, with a top and bottom surface that are typically the same square area. This creates a very sturdy support feature but requires a larger amount of support material and a longer build time to print out. Example of SPARSE Support Style In the example to the right, we’re looking at a part that has been prepared for a Stratasys F370 FDM 3D printer and is utilizing the Sparse Support style. If you are printing a model that has a large flat surface that needs to be supported, you may not need such a large support structure. This is where the SMART Support structure can be helpful.

By selecting SMART under Support Style in GrabCAD Print, we can create a support structure that has an upwards taper, allowing us to use less material and print faster while still providing the same amount of support to the model material where it meets the support material. This is a simple operation in GrabCAD Print and can save you time and money when printing objects that have a large amount of support material required.

SMART Support Style SMART Supports Style stage 2

You can also watch our Video Tech Tip on this process to see exactly how much time and material you can save when printing this model as well as dive a little deeper into how a support structure is actually printed.

Check out more of our 3D printing Video Tech Tips to expand your skills and learn more about other features and tools for 3D printing.