Generating supports in PrusaSlicer

After recieved my Elegoo Mars machine a few months ago I have been using the ChiTuBox slicer to generate supports and slice files to print on that machine. I tried to use the automatic supports generation feature in ChiTuBox but I found that it often needed manual intervention in order to generate sufficient support structures, it would often only generate a small number of supports around the very base of an object, and I would often have to add a number of supports in order to get a successful print.

PrusaSlicer was updated earlier this year, to support SLA type pre processing and slicing, including support generation, after the release of the Prusa SL1. This got me wondering if using PrusaSlicer to generate the supports would be more robust than ChiTuBox and reduce the need for manual input on the support generation side.

I chose a pair of models that I had previously printed using supports generated by ChiTuBox, but in both of these cases it took me a couple of iterations to get the supports good enough for a successful print. I used PrusaSlicer in SLA mode (which can be found through the configuration wizard) and imported the models, I then made a couple of tweaks to the support options in the 'Print Settings' tab. Specifically in the 'Supports' section I changed the 'Support pillar connection mode' to Dynamic and in the 'Pad' section I adjusted the 'Pad wall slope' to 45°, this assists enourmously with removing the print from the build plate as it gives somewhere for the spatula to dig in.

I then went to File, Export, Export plate as STL including supports, and saved that somewhere. Then in ChiTuBox I imported that file and sliced as normal, ensuring that the generated pad was flush with the print bed. Both of these models printed perfectly the first time, with no additional intervention from myself, the base of the Paladin figure is slightly sagged just where the very lower corner of the base starts, which is consistent with even the best prints that I've done with the ChiTuBox supports.

Supports on the base of the Paladin model, PrusaSlicer on the left, ChiTuBox on the right.

In the case of the Paladin model, the supports that PrusaSlicer generated also used significantly less plastic than the ChiTuBox generated supports, ChiTuBox would generate supports across the entire width of the base, whereas PrusaSlicer just generated supports at the bottom corner of the base.

Supports on the body of the Paladin model, PrusaSlicer on the left, ChiTuBox on the right.

The PrusaSlicer supports also seem to be more flexible in terms of the angles that it is willing to use in order to put the end point of the support where it needs to be, like in the case of the top of the shield of the Paladin and on the sword.

The two completed models, the Terminator on the left and the Paladin on the right.

So in conclusion I think that I will be using PrusaSlicer from now on to generate my support structures, as there is no manual intervention required and it uses less plastic. I will of course update this blog if I find any more salient points on this topic.

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