Support: How to find the correct orientation for your print

Positioning the object you want to print on the bed is not as easy as it may seem. The position of your object on the print bed is crucial to avoid using much support, which means:

  • Reducing printing time
  • Avoid wasting material (and money!)
  • Obtaining better surface quality

And, what is the best way to position your object on the bed?

Unfortunately there is no magic formula for this. You will have to try different orientations until you find the one that is best.

After importing the STL file, click on the “Customize Support structures Button”, on the right side toolbar of Simplify3D.

How to change the orientation of your print:

  1. Manually using the “Change Orientation” box, which appears on the right side of the window after double clicking on the model.
  2. Using the Place Surface on Bed feature – on the Edit menu – to locate a specific surface of the object on the bed. (also CNTRL + L)

After setting a new orientation, click on “Center and Arrange” to re-locate the model on the bed surface.

Example 1. A Table

Let’s start with an easy example.

If you would like to print this table, maybe your first idea would be to locate it on its natural position, as in image a). That wouldn’t be a good idea. After trying out different orientations, we ac  hieve the optimal one, in which no support is needed (c).


Time: 331 h

Material: ≈ 30 kg


Time: 131 h

Material: ≈ 13 kg


Time: 45h

Material: ≈ 5kg (no support)

Example 2.
A Simple Propeller

In this case the decision is a little more complicated.

After trying out different orientations, we conclude that the optimal one is the one shown on image c), in which we used the following rotation:


Time: 171 h

Material: ≈ 16,7 kg


Time: 112 h

Material: ≈ 11kg


Time: 105 h

Material: ≈ 10 kg

This orientation is not only optimal in terms of material and time saving, but also gives the propeller a stronger structure.

As you see, with the second proposed position (b), the layers would be deposited on the propeller transversal to the blade direction, which means a more unstable and easier to break print, when forces are applied to it.

On the other hand, on the third option (c), layers are deposited parallel to the blade direction, which means a stronger blade, which would be very difficult to break.





Once we have decided which our optimal orientation is, is time to improve the automatic support that Simplify3D generates.

Still on the Customize Support Structure Menu, we are able to add or remove support pillars to improve the support structure.

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