Support material is nearly always required for a successful FDM 3D print. Various support materials are available dependent on the printer you purchase and the model material you are using. FDM printers deploy support material to prevent structures from collapsing during a print. Minimising support material where possible is always an advantage as it will decrease print time and post finishing- all of that support material has to be broken off or dissolved at some point!

Most prep software will be able to advise on various support solutions and some even allow designers to create custom supports. GrabCAD has a feature which allows users to select a SMART support option, which calculates where best to place the support whilst minimising its overall use.

See below: Stratasys FDM part with support material on the left, and removed on the right

If parts are small and delicate it is advised to work with a support material that is dissolvable in caustic soda, as manually breaking the support from the part by mechanical means, can risk damage to the finished component.  Ensure you have the right equipment to carry out dissolving support and wear the appropriate safety equipment.

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