• Comparison of support structure generation techniques for 3d printing

      Tupek, Ann; Lawlor, Orion; Chappell, Glenn; Hartman, Chris (2016)
      As the old patents from the late 1980's and early 1990's expire, additive fabrication and rapid prototyping has seen a boom in recent years. Often called 3D printing, in the additive fabrication process material is deposited on previous layers. The problem of supporting overhangs in 3D printing is not one encountered in the traditional method of subtractive fabrication. This paper examines and compares three methods of generating support structures for these overhangs: a scaffolding structure, simple pillars, and the supports automatically generated by the open source slicing tool Slic3r. Our results show that both the scaffolding structure and simple pillars use less material than Slic3r's supports. Additionally, the scaffolding structure and simple pillars print in a comparable amount of time as Slic3r's supports and all the models have a similar visual print quality. This conservation of material without a reduction in print quality make our method of scaffolding support structures preferable to the supports automatically generated by Slic3r.