Easy Steps: How to Remove Supports from 3D Prints PLA

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Removing supports from 3D prints can be a tedious and frustrating process, but it’s a necessary step for achieving a clean and polished final product. PLA, or polylactic acid, is a popular material for 3D printing due to its ease of use and low cost. However, removing supports from PLA prints can be tricky, as the material can be brittle and prone to breaking.

To start, it’s important to choose the right support settings in your slicing software. Generally, supports should be placed only where necessary, as excessive supports can make removal more difficult. Additionally, increasing the support interface layers can help to create a stronger bond between the support material and the print, making removal easier. Once your print is complete, let it cool completely before attempting to remove supports. This will help to prevent warping or damage to the print.

When removing supports, it’s important to take your time and work carefully. Using a pair of pliers or tweezers, gently wiggle the support material back and forth until it begins to loosen. If the support material is particularly stubborn, try using a hobby knife or sandpaper to carefully shave away at the material until it can be removed. Remember to work slowly and carefully, as rushing the process can result in damage to your print.

Why Remove Supports?

When 3D printing complex models, supports are often used to prevent the print from collapsing or warping during the printing process. However, these supports need to be removed once the print is finished in order to achieve a clean and polished final product. There are several reasons why it is important to remove supports:

  • Aesthetic: Supports can leave behind unsightly marks and blemishes on the surface of the print, which can detract from its overall appearance.

  • Functionality: Supports can also interfere with the functionality of the print, especially if they are not removed properly. They can get in the way of moving parts or obstruct important features.

  • Safety: In some cases, supports may even pose a safety risk. If they are not removed properly, they can break off and become a choking hazard, especially if the print is intended for use by children.

Overall, removing supports is an essential step in the 3D printing process. While it may be a bit time-consuming, it can greatly improve the quality and functionality of the final product.

Preparing to Remove Supports

Gather Your Tools

Before removing the supports from your PLA 3D print, you’ll need to gather a few tools. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pliers or tweezers
  • Wire cutters
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Safety glasses (optional, but recommended)

Inspect the Print

Before removing the supports, take a close look at your 3D print. Check for any areas where the supports may have fused to the print, or where the print may be weaker due to the supports. You’ll want to be careful when removing the supports from these areas to avoid damaging the print.

If you notice any areas where the supports have fused to the print, you may need to use a pair of wire cutters to carefully cut away the support material. Be sure to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from any flying debris.

Once you’ve inspected the print, you’re ready to begin removing the supports.

Removing Supports

When printing 3D models with PLA, supports are often necessary to ensure the success of the print. However, removing these supports can be a tedious and time-consuming process. In this section, we will discuss several methods for removing supports from PLA prints.

Manual Removal

The most basic method for removing supports is to simply grab and pull them off the print by hand. This method is best suited for prints with few and small supports. However, be careful not to apply too much force, as this can damage the print.

Using Pliers

For prints with more extensive support structures, pliers can be used to grip and twist the supports until they snap off. This method can be more efficient than manual removal, but be careful not to damage the print with the pliers.

Using a Knife or Razor Blade

A knife or razor blade can be used to carefully cut away the supports from the print. This method is best suited for prints with intricate support structures or hard-to-reach areas. Be sure to use a sharp blade and exercise caution to avoid damaging the print.

Using a Heat Gun

A heat gun can be used to soften the PLA material and make it easier to remove the supports. Simply apply heat to the support structure until it becomes pliable, and then gently pull it away from the print. This method can be effective for prints with stubborn supports, but be careful not to overheat the PLA material and cause warping or deformation.

Overall, there are several methods for removing supports from PLA prints, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Experiment with different methods to find the one that works best for your particular print.

Post-Removal Finishing

After removing supports from your 3D print, it’s important to perform post-removal finishing to achieve a polished and professional-looking final product. This section will cover two essential sub-sections: Sanding and Filing, and Cleaning the Print.

Sanding and Filing

Sanding and filing are crucial steps in achieving a smooth surface on your 3D print. This process involves removing any rough edges or bumps left behind by the support material. Here are some tips to follow when sanding and filing your 3D print:

  • Start with a coarse grit sandpaper (around 100 grit) and work your way up to a finer grit sandpaper (around 400 grit) to achieve a smooth finish.
  • Use a sanding block to ensure even sanding.
  • Be careful not to sand too much in one area, as it can create an uneven surface.
  • Use a file to remove any excess material or rough edges.
  • Be gentle when filing, as excessive force can cause damage to the print.

Cleaning the Print

Cleaning the print is an important final step in the post-removal finishing process. This step involves removing any dust or debris left behind from the sanding and filing process. Here are some tips to follow when cleaning your 3D print:

  • Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any dust or debris from the print.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the print and remove any remaining debris.
  • If necessary, use a cleaning solution such as isopropyl alcohol to remove any stubborn residue.
  • Be sure to let the print dry completely before handling or painting.

By following these post-removal finishing steps, you can achieve a polished and professional-looking final product.


Removing supports from 3D prints made of PLA can be a challenging task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done with ease. In this article, we have discussed some of the most effective ways to remove supports from 3D prints made of PLA.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when removing supports is to be patient and take your time. Rushing the process can lead to damaging the print, which is the last thing you want to happen after spending hours printing it.

Another important aspect to consider is the type of support material you are using. PLA supports are easier to remove than other materials such as ABS or PETG. However, if you are using a support material that is difficult to remove, you may want to consider switching to a different type of support material.

Using the right tools can also make a big difference when it comes to removing supports. A good set of pliers, tweezers, and a scraper can make the process much easier and more efficient. Additionally, using a heated bed or hot water can help soften the support material, making it easier to remove.

In conclusion, removing supports from 3D prints made of PLA requires patience, the right tools, and techniques. By following the tips and tricks discussed in this article, you can remove supports with ease and achieve a high-quality finish on your 3D prints.