So you’re just learning to 3D print, but some people are telling you to print flat, while others say to print on an angle. Today we’ll go over each of these and give you information you need to make your decision.

As discussed in the previous video, the orientation of the model plays a large role in both the type of supports that are needed and their number, but there are two main types to keep in mind. Some models can be placed flat on the build plate, while other’s must be printed at an angle. There are several main factors that will determine which technique is more appropriate to that specific model. These include the amount of surface area, size and shape.

 While the size and the surface area may be closely related, they do represent two different criteria. The amount of surface area is generally determined by the flat surface that will be placed on the build plate, along with whether the model can be hollowed out while preserving the desired physical properties. For this character, it has quite a bit of surface area and would have created a lot of suction forces to contend with, therefore it was oriented to reduce the amount of suction and was also hallowed out.

The size is the overall scale that the print will printed at, and this does affect the amount of surface area. For smaller sized prints, these often don’t include very thick portions and rarely need to be hollowed out as a result. Smaller prints, will generally have to deal with less overall suction forces, allowing these to be printed flat if the shape allows for this. This Happy Tooth design didn’t require any supports whatsoever because of the modelled shape along with flat base. Since it was printed at a smaller scale, the suction forces were limited and didn’t pose a problem.

The shape normally includes detailed elements, which can have overhanging areas that may need additional supports in order to print properly. Models, such as miniatures, will often contain multiple overhangs and islands that need additional supports. In those cases, it’s quite common to print these on an angle and lifted from the build the plate. Functional or mechanical parts may not require as many supports, if any, in order to print successfully. The functional 3D prints can often benefit from being printed flat, should the overall surface area be limited. For these wolverine blades, I created custom supports that would easily be sawed off later, while making sure to orient the model upwards to reduce the amount of suction forces. In this case, I was able to print the model flat with a limited number of additional supports.

A big factor, to also consider, is the print bed adhesion. This portion is quite often overlooked by new user’s but plays a crucial role when printing an object flat. Ensuring a properly levelled bed is crucial for any success and should be the first thing a user checks. Items such as flex build plates can often make this task more difficult because of the small amount of flexing that occurs along the surface every time the build plate lifts away from the FEP sheet. There’s generally two ways to mitigate those issues. The first is to adjust first layer exposure settings. Increasing the first layer exposure will increase the adhesion to the build plate surface and should be the first approach to take. The second is to sand the surface periodically with 250 to 350 grit sandpaper, making sure to maintain a flat surface. Prior to attaching a flex build plate, I always recommend that you take a look at what you intend to use that machine for. If you’re going to use the printer for miniatures, then a flex build plate is often beneficial. If you plan to use the machine in a setting where tolerances are of the upmost impotence or for a variety of projects, it might be better to leave the plat as is for now.

With a better understanding of how and when to print your models flat vs angled, you probably have questions about setting up your supports, so we’ll go over the basics in this video here.


  • Printed flat or angled
  • Two factors = Size + Surface
  • Smaller prints = Less suction forces + less surface area
  • Greater suction forces = Greater print bed adhesion
  • Flex build plate = Lower print bed adhesion (adjustment might have to be made)

Recommend Articles

How to install custom VDM brushes in Blender the quick and easy way.


In order to get the most out of the sculpting features while also increase productivity, it’s normally a good idea to begin using custom brushes. In order to install these tools, you’ll need to do the following.

After downloading the .zip file, extract it and place it in a location that will be easy to find. If you’re using one of my mine VDM kits, they’ll be both a PDF user guide along with the .blend file. Open up a new scene and go to File + Append. Locate the .blend file and click Append. Open the brush folder + select the brushes that you want to use in your file. Most creators will add a unique name that will make them stand out from the default one’s. In my PDF guide, I’ve included a Brush summary sheet along with Variations, so you can import only the one’s that you will need. In order to use a brush, the proper tool must be selected before clicking on one of the new one’s. Using the middle mouse, it’s now easy to scroll through the icon list once the images have finished loading. In order for the brush to work properly, the mesh will require enough resolution and will need to either have a multiresolution modifier applied, or be using the dyntopo at the correct resolution.

In the next guide, we’ll go over how to remove any unwanted brushes to clean up the interface.

Notes and Recommendations

  • Pixelated or rough looking results = normally means that the resolution isn’t great enough to achieve the desired level of detail. Try either increasing the brush size or increasing the mesh resolution
  • Increasing resolution = can be done using either Dyntopo or a Multiresolution Modifier
  • Dynopo = better for rough shape sculpting, but will need to be re-meshed afterwards if it is to be used for animation
  • Multiresolution = better suited for animation and additional details

Creating supports for products.

Professional Support Design

If you’ve been 3D printing for a while now, you may want to look into creating your own supports native within your modelling software.

This type of workflow is great for instances where you’re working with similar products that have minor changes to them rather than individually unique items. Within a production setting, this workflow can become a powerful asset once you’ve passed the initial development stages. While it is true it can take a while in the beginning, often this makes for a more efficient workflow process for post-processing, and finishing work.

The easiest way to do this is to take information which was established from the automated supports, and carry these over to the 3D software. Before doing anything, you’ll need to ensure your 3D model is at the proper scale within the software, since this will make the values more accurate. The main information you’ll need for this is your layer printing height, initial bottom layer count, upper diameter for your connection point as well as the middle diameter for the pillars. I’ll be using Blender, which is a free open source software, but this information will apply to anything similar, whether it be for animation or CAD.

My custom keycap designs are a great example of this implementation, since they were all very similar and only contained slight modifications. For these models, I created a rectangle that was the total thickness of my initial bottom layers. Using my upper diameter information, I created supports which were this thickness, making sure to place these along the base of the model. It’s very important that, while doing this, to include gaps that will act as drainage holes. These gaps will help relieve any pressure build up that can be created due to the suction forces. Once printed, all of these supports could easily be removed with the use of a simple prying tool or sanded off until I reached the base of the key-caps. These were the final results that I ended up with, and they worked like a charm.

A larger scale example was the wolverine claws that I designed for a client. In this case, I created a base that would be easily to cut off after the print completed. This saved me a bunch of time in is my post-processing, since I only needed to really worry about the softening of the one edge of the model. Now although I did sand everything to ensure that they weren’t any layer lines, if this was for a rush project I still had the option of going straight to the painting process if I needed to. So, although it normally takes quite a few test prints to ensure that such supports will be successful, this is where utilizing some of the built-in slicer features can be helpful. In Chitubox and other slicers, often problem areas will be highlighted, so previewing the model first will give you a better idea of where to place such supports.

Another added benefit of doing this workflow, is that it can help influence the model design to help ensure that minimal supports are needed to begin with. My baby ghost design is another great example where this is the case. Compared to the original design, which would have required much more supports, the final versions require little to none as a result of how the mesh was modelled.

A lot of the finished products I make such as my collectors coins, necklaces and rings all use these techniques, and it greatly reduces the amount of time that I personally spend on post-processing. During a tight deadline, this means that I can normally finish a product within a couple of hours to within a day after the printing has completed. But what about the controversy of printing your models flat on the build plate? Well, we’ll go over that in an upcoming video.

Important Notes

  • Ensure proper scale
  • Layer printing height x initial bottom layers
  • Pillar upper diameter (min support thickness)
  • Pillar middle diameter (max thickness for supports reinforcements)
  • Preview highlighted areas in slicer
  • Design model to require little to no supports

Additional Resources
When and where to use auto vs manual supports in a 3D print.

So you have the proper support settings, but now that you’ve set everything up, how do you approach adding supports to your model?

Automated and manual supports both have their own use cases, but these will depend on the resin and the type of model that you’re using. It’s also important to know when and where manual supports might be necessary.

The main focus of adding supports is to ensure that the model stays attached to the build plate during the printing process, while preventing any distortions within the model itself. In order to achieve this, all islands, overhangs or areas which aren’t attached to the build plate require a support structure. For larger prints, these will often need to be hollowed out to reduce waste. Many newer slicers today use a highlighting system to help draw attention to these areas which will require supportive materials, but this doesn’t always catch every instance.

While slicing software has improved greatly in terms of generating automatic supports, there are certain limitations which are still true today. Large overhang areas tend to have supports in unoptimized areas, and a lack of additional supporting material for the supports themselves.

A main area of concern is the overhangs that cover larger distances, since these are more prone to warping, especially during the first couple of layers. Normally even with automated supports, they do not include enough in certain regions, so these will need to be touched up prior to printing. In most cases, lining any hard edges and corner’s with additional supports should be a major focus, since any warping along those edges will be noticeable in the final print.

Tall and narrow support material tends to be a common issue with automated supports, and these will need to be reinforced to prevent them from bending or failing entirely. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to address this using one of two methods. Either the support pillar diameter can be increased or additional supports can be added to the pillar itself to increase its rigidity.

Placement of automated supports in relation to the model itself can be a tricky issue to address. For highly detailed models where supports need to overlap, there can be issues with these being generated too closely to the model itself. When a model is hollowed out, something in the internal supports can prevent drainage holes from properly draining resin. In most cases, these will need to be moved out of the way. This becomes especially prevalent when a resin is more elastic and prone to bending.

While manually adding supports allows for a greater amount of control over the end product, this can be a time-consuming endeavour. Very important to take into account, is the fact manual supports need to be double-checked for any missed regions and therefore using a validor can aid in this process. For highly detailed projects, I do find that adding manual supports allows me to better control the final product, whereas for more simple projects the automated supports tend to get me 95% of the way done. So while automated supports isn’t a perfect solution, it does provide a good starting point from which to work from.

If you’ve been doing 3D printing for a while now, you’ll probably want to check out my more advanced video, which covers how to model custom supports within a 3D modelling software.



  • Easy to use
  • Saves time
  • Placement isn’t great
  • Requires tweaking


  • Greater control
  • Less Waste
  • Time-consuming
  • Must be double-checked