How To Remove 3D Printer Support Material

Cheryl Owens20 Mar 2022

3D printing has been all the rage for a while now. It allows for more efficient and affordable manufacturing, but it can get messy. One of the dirtiest parts of 3D printing is the support material, which can be hard to remove without damaging your print job or yourself. 3D printer support material is designed to simplify removing objects from a build plate by making them easier to remove with minor damage. Unfortunately, it can also make clean-up difficult because it sticks too tightly to some surfaces and removes layers of paint or other surfaces during removal. Here are some ways you can remove 3D printer support material without ruining your print job or your house.

What is 3D printer support material?

3D printer support material is a kind of plastic that sticks to a 3D printed object. It is used to make this object easier to remove from the build plate, but it can also ruin your paint or other surfaces during removal. Support material is helpful in the printing process, and uring adds strength, stiffness, or structural support. It can be porous or dense, solid or liquid. The three main types of 3D support material are:

  1. Fused deposition modelling (FDM)
  2. Selective laser sintering (SLS)
  3. Stereolithography (SLA)

How to remove 3D printer support material

Suppose you want to remove 3D printer support material without ruining your print job. In that case, it's essential to follow a few stabilizer steps to avoid damaging your surface or pulling too many layers of paint during removal. When I printed objects from my Ender 3 printer, the support material ended up sticking more aggressively than on tests where I had only used modified settings. Example of extruded Support Correctly attenuating the flow rate can be one way for removing stuck support material. The second way to remove 3d printer support material is by running the nozzle at a low speed. This allows the part to cool down before breaking the bonds to the build plate. When some printers are over-extruding, it is essential that one can begin their automated process of removing support material by long, slow strokes on their printer control panel when they start to cool down. Starting with Modified Settings (Low flow rates and too-low compressive walls) It's best to start withdrawing the part using only a high-speed setting, but with a layer thickness of 1 or .1 mm (to be extra safe.) This reduces the amount of friction that results from pulling and bridges any small gaps in thin layers. Then slowly and steadily increase your z-axis speed until it reaches 10 mm per second. Then increase your y-axis movement for another 10 mm per second until you print at 40 mm/s on both axes. To remove support material easier, you must immerse yourself into more than just 3D printing. Using these slow and steady strokes, you will want to begin eliminating support material at 0 degrees. The key is to reach a critical point on the opposite slider where you move it all the way forward, and that little bit becomes ineffective — you must apply effort without jamming or binding the parts into place.

Other Methods

Another way to remove 3D printer support material is to do it backward, in speed. Pick your z-axis movement speed at about 30 mm/s, and for your y-axis, move a similar amount elsewhere. You are looking for those perfect plastic colliding with the top of your nozzle, and be bold on the opening or closing movement of your z-axis. Now move quickly between these two speeds to 50 mm/s and extrude just slow enough to avoid bubbles but strong enough for the plastic to continue into its basic shape once it comes out of the nozzle. This can idealize an excellent way to obliterate support material without breaking any layers of fabric or damaging the bed or print bed while removing support material on a 3D printer.

3D Support Material Types

3D support material is typically composed of a powder or a liquid that will help the 3D printer deposit layers upon layers of material. There are three different types of support material:

PLA - Polylactic Acid

This material is derived from renewable resources and is biodegradable. It is also non-toxic to humans, making it safer for children and pets to be around when printing with PLA.

Nylon - Nylon 6

This translucent plastic is harder than PLA and can be used to make stronger objects. The downside to this material is that it can only be printed in one direction, meaning you'll have to switch directions on your machine if you want a different pattern on your object. This helps prevent jamming and other issues.

PC - Polycarbonate

This hard plastic can withstand nearly any temperature without cracking or melting, making it perfect for protecting your 3D printing projects from high temperatures, such as an oven or microwave. PC has its pros and cons, though; some people complain that PC's print quality isn't as good as other materials like PLA or nylon, but others say that the prints tend not to warp much during the process. Another downside is that PCs don't have a very wide color spectrum, so it's more difficult to produce vibrant colors with this material.


3D printers have become hugely popular in recent years, but they have their downsides. One of the most common problems people have with 3D printing is the support material. It’s not just a nuisance, it can also be dangerous, depending on the material. If you’re using a 3D printer for the first time, it can be tough to know what to expect when printing with support material. But after going through the above methods of support structure removal, you should be able to figure out how to do it properly.

Cheryl Owens

Cheryl Owens

Welcome to Printlitic! 3D printing became a hobby of mine 5 years ago with an earlier model of Anycubic printer. Since then, I have grown to love seeing what people can build & create, and how these printers can change the world.

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