Friday, April 7, 2017

To support or not to support?

This was a commission job to do a character model based on someone Final Fantasy XIV character, and it is the most complex part I've ever modeled and printed. Part of the complexity of this model was the fact that it was a moving target. As an online game the player was constantly changing their costume. The other part of the complexity was that this character had a lot of clothes to model. In the future singlets and jeans only. And finally no matter what I did I could not come up with an intersting pose that didn't have massive overhangs.

I get a lot of guff from other 3D printing people because of my stance on break-away supports. So I decided to take this character and see if I could make supports work. I tweaked and adjusted and used every trick in the book to get a well supported part out of it. But when the supports didn't fail and fall before they got to the part they needed to be supporting, the supported arm, which was already thin, was made skeletal because of the necessary gap introduced so that the supports could be removed. And I'm not talking about the clean skeleton you see in the doctor's office, no, like a dripping, fleshy, zombie skeleton arm.
So I adjusted the design to print without supports. I removed the overhanging arm, gave it a slightly overhang orientation, and removed the book as well. Of course this part was too small to add any sort of registers to the parts so that I could line them up after printing so gluing them was a fine art of patience and a steady hand, and I admit that having the badly printed part for reference probably helped. But the final result was so much better.
Now, I'm not saying that break-away supports should never ever never be used. I still think they're a fine art and they have their place. But fine details on rounded objects is not that place.

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