MakerBot MicroTip: Using the Support Features in Skeinforge’s Raft Tool

Posted by on Monday, June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with Skeinforge 35’s Support preferences (located in the Raft tool) to print objects that either have nasty overhangs (so would be likely to drop loops) or do not offer an easy flat sides to print from. In the past, these tools worked, but lead to uneven results. But with the latest toolheads offering stepper driven extrusion and really precise temperature management, bridging and printing with support structure gets better every day.

One consequence of the mechanical and software engineering updates to the Thing-O-Matic printer: with each new round of releases it is worth the effort to experiment with tuning Skeinforge settings in the Raft tool so that you can see how your MakerBot responds to the new possibilities.

Here are the models I use for support testing:

  • Wizzard by guru (the hat, sleeves, and arms are excellent support tests)
  • a 40% scale, upside down Stanford Bunny (printing inverted will make it obvious if your settings are skewing your model)

I also have a really challenging support test (featured above): animator Raedia Albinson‘s abstract sculpture “SisterRaeSpiral3.” I can’t make this STL available (though she is considering sharing it with Thingiverse) but suffice it to say that this is a cluster of nested spiral tendrils with no flat base. Pretty much the most brutal support test I have found — so I keep threatening the R&D team to send it to them as a test print.1

The Support settings are found within Skeinforge and can be accessed by clicking “Generate Gcode,” choosing a profile from the list, and then hitting the “Edit” button to open up the settings windows.

First Tip: Your settings in the Raft:Interface section will have a tremendous effect on your support material! So that Interface Infill Density (ratio) value determines how dense your support material will be (even though it isn’t in the support material section).

Second Tip: Can you use Support Material in combination with ReplicatorG 25’s Print-O-Matic features? Why, yes you can! Print-O-Matic overwrites some of the values in your profile, but not all of them. So you will be able to get the support material settings you like in your profile, and use a combination of activating “Raft” and picking a “Use support material” setting to use the Skeinforge:Raft settings you have added into your profile.

Here’s a great place to start for settings!

  • Interface infill density (ratio): 0.4 (0.3-0.7)’
  • Interface Layer Thickness over Layer Thickness: 1.2 ( also  0.7)
  • Support Cross Hatch: No.
  • Support Flow Rate over Operating Flow Rate (ratio): 0.7 (0.4-0.7)
  • Support Gap over Perimeter Extrusion Width (ratio): 0.005
  • Support Material Choice: Everywhere
  • Support Minimum Angle (degrees): 35.0
  1. And they keep saying “Bring it on!” []
Tagged with , 11 comments

11 Comments so far

  • Syvwlch
    June 27, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I’ll try those, thanks!

  • Syvwlch
    June 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Peeled right off, no muss, no fuss. Thanks!

  • neoteric
    June 29, 2011 at 10:40 am

    It does work. I have been printing that way for quite some time, and it is the only way to go.

    You can see an example of how to do this on a cupcake. This item was printed almost completely in the air, only the one ridge touched the platform.

    The csv is included. But with a much older version of replicator, since it was about a year ago. Just posting in case it is helpful.

  • MakeALot
    July 1, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Thanks Matt, I used these setting to print the pen-top garden set.

  • Nate
    July 12, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Is there any way to get support material without actually printing a raft?

  • Dustin Andrews
    November 17, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    @Nate, a bit late, but yes. You can set the actual raft parameters to 0, still use raft and get support. Printomatic doesn’t seem to do support material if you uncheck raft, though the UI implies otherwise.

  • Rashad
    February 14, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I just got an error message that state the machine will move to fast. I went ahead and ran it any way and it runs way to fast and the extruder extrudes nothing? Any help?

  • NickW
    May 2, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Just wondering, in the screenshot it shows the value 0.05 for the Support Gap over Perimeter Extrusion Width (ratio), and in the text 0.005. Which one is best?

  • jason
    June 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Where/how do you specify the gcode generation to print raft/support material with one stepstruder and the actual model with the second stepstruder on a dual-head Replicator? Note that I am not talking about the merge stl function as the support is generated on the fly.

  • Ethan
    June 12, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    @jason Unfortunately, it’s not currently possible to have Skeinforge generate support material to be printed on the second extruder — to do this, you would need to manually create the support material as a separate .stl and then merge.

    However, this may be possible at some point in the future — we’re definitely looking into the possibilities, so stay tuned.

  • Joymaker
    September 24, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Oh yes, Ethan, please do! That would be really timely and helpful!


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