Raft 3D Printing: What Is It and How to Use It?

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A common issue amongst 3D printer users is the successful printing of the entire 3D object.

The base of these models/objects is usually prone to issues such as:

  • Base level inconsistency
  • Falling when the 3D model is too tall and
  • Poor bed adhesion to the print bed/building platform

In this article, we will explain how to use Raft 3D printing to prevent inconsistency and the other 3D printing issues.

We understand the process of raft 3D printing. It involves the additive processing of a 3D printing filament to construct the 3D model design onto the   raft.

If you are new to raft 3D printing, this article can help you learn how raft 3D printing works.

We will also give you more insight into what raft 3D printing is, so keep reading and taking notes.

What Exactly Is the Raft 3D Printing Process for Objects Printing?

The best part about raft 3D printing is that you can use any 3D filament when raft 3D printing. Even the warp-prone ABS filament is compatible with Raft 3D printing.

Raft is a supporting print and is the first removable print attached to the initial layer of the entire objects.

So when you use the warp-prone ABS, the printed rafts will reduce the effect of the warped base on the actual model.

The rafts also ensures that the appearance of the object’s model is consistently and properly printed.

What happens is that when the first part attaches to the print bed (build platform), it fills in the gaps of the print bed.

The first part of the raft is the one attached to the building platform. While the second part is the one attached to the actual model.

You can achieve raft 3D printing by inputting its dimensions in a 3D design software setting. Then a slicer software will translate the setting’s data into the 3D printer’s language.

It is the 3D printer’s job to use the settings to construct the 3D model via any 3D printing techniques.

What Is a Raft in 3D Printing and How Does It Work?

The rafts acts as an adhesive and protective sheet for the 3D model.

A raft is the initial supporting print surface constructed by the 3D printer head and is not part of the actual model. After printing the 3d model, you are to use a tool to break off the rafts from the 3D model.

You can use your finger or a needle-toothed poker to separate the rafts if it feels tedious.

To achieve a raft in 3D printing that you can easily break off, ensure that you are using:

  • At least 0.2-mm separation distance and
  • A thick enough upper and bottom raft layer

Raft is a fast way for beginners to learn how to print sturdy and delicate objects using 3D printing technology.

Exploring the Advantages and Disadvantages of 3D Raft Printing

The use of Raft 3D printing is beneficial to the printing industry because it is easier to understand and is very straightforward. No matter how beneficial it is, it has its advantages and disadvantages.

Below are the advantages and disadvantages of 3D printing:

Advantages

  • It helps to level the damaged building platform by using the raft, which improves the print quality of the object model.
  • Enables user to see any issue with the print machine before the main object design is constructed.
  • Prevents the falling over of printed object design by acting as the stronger base support for the object design.
  • The printed raft is the best adhesion assistant because it provides the 3D model with a solid foundation.
  • Prevents the warping of the model design base by taking the fall for the model design.

Disadvantages

  • It consumes more material/filament during the process of object design construction.
  • It is tedious to separate the raft from the model, especially if the raft is very thick.
  • It adds time to the actual print time of the 3D model
  • It doesn’t print the neatest 3D object because the o bject’s base becomes rough after removing the raft.

An Overview of the Reasons Why You Should Use 3D Raft Printing

Raft 3D printing has its advantages and disadvantages. It is best used for several reasons. The following are major scenarios in which to use raft 3D printing.

  • Raft 3D printing is best if the adhesion bed you are using is damaged.
  • Raft 3D printing is ideal when using materials/filaments prone to warping.
  • Using a raft is necessary if your 3D printer is unstable and your object design requires additional support and stability for proper construction.
  • Raft 3D printing is recommended when the base of your object design lacks sufficient adhesion to the building platform.

How to Set Up Your 3D Printer for Raft Printing

To successfully construct a useful three-dimensional objects by using the raft 3D printing process, you need to know the basic 5 steps for raft 3D printing. They include:

Create Your Object Design:

The first step is to identify and visualize the object’s design you want to print. You can use modeling software such as Blender or use websites such as Thingverse to obtain the STL files of object designs used by other 3D printer users.

Choose an Appropriate Temperature and Speed:

The next step is to choose an appropriate temperature and speed to ensure your object design is consistently printed. Note that the appropriate temperature and speed will depend on the material/filament you want to use.

After all, the temperature and speed at which the extruder feeds the material/filament into the raft 3D printing head determine the texture, strength, print quality and appearance properties of your actual model.

For example, 240 – 260 temperature and 66mm/s speed is okay when printing your actual model with a warping-prone filament like ABS filament.

Export File Format Containing the Object Design to Your 3D Printer:

After selecting your object design and the appropriate temperature and speed, your next step is determining the file format the 3D printing machine can read. There are two small steps you need to take. You have to:

  • Export it as an STL file to the printer and
  • Use a slicing software to translate the STL file to the Gcode file before exposing the Gcode to the 3D printing machine.

An STL file is the typical format for storing a 3D design, but the language/code that all 3D printers use and understand is found in a G-code file format.

Set the Parameters:

The settings for printing rafts are quite different. You need to keep a record of the values you use for all your models for better-customized results in the future.

The values depend on your choice of filament and the size of the object design. However, it is best if the value of your raft thickness is lower than the value of your nozzle size.

If you are doing an in-depth setting, ensure that the bottom raft layer and upper raft layer are thick enough to avoid adhesion issues. Parameters are set so that you can make the object design’s overall appearance unique to your brand.

Print:

3D printing machines that use rafts generally use additive processing to construct a three-dimensional model.

The machine types you can use depend on the material/filament you choose. It can take minutes to hours for your machine to finish printing your design. If your design is larger, it typically takes longer.

Conclusion

Raft 3D printing is now more common than ever and it is a straightforward process that you can easily learn with minimal error by printing in a protected environment.

Raft 3D printing models can last for years, depending on the material/filament you use. You can use it to print anything.

All you need to print your 3D model with a raft is a 3D printer and the willingness to start raft 3D printing your object designs.

Frequently Asked Questions for Introducing Raft 3D Printing: What Is It and How to Use It?

Can You 3D Print without a Raft?

Yes. When 3D printing without a raft, ensure that the 3D printing setting is appropriate because the support that a raft provides 3D printing is no longer available.

Do a triple check to ensure that you imputed the correct values before allowing the printing machine to begin the object model construction process.

How Do I Stop My Raft Print from Peeling?

Ensure that you are using the correct values in your modeling software settings. This is why it is crucial for you to have a record of all the dimensions you have ever used.

If you are using the correct values, enclosing your printing chamber and your raft is still peeling, then you need to take steps such as:
Using a heated building platform
Using a glass building platform and
Putting adhesive on the building platform before allowing your 3D printing machine to print.

Do Rafts Prevent Warping?

Yes. Using a raft with just the right amount of large surface area helps with resisting the warping of your object model.

What Does Printing a Raft Do?

Printing a raft ensures that the base of the object model has a smooth finish. It increases the chances of the printing process being successful by providing better adhesion to the print bed.

When Should a 3D Printer Use a Raft?

You should use a raft to avoid warping. The right time for a 3D printer is when the base of the object model has a small surface area, so the base is only connected with the building platform just a little.

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