3D printing raft vs. brim vs. skirt Comparisons Guide

When I got into 3D printing, I had a lot of trouble figuring out raft vs. brim vs. skirt. All these techniques of 3D printing serve the purpose of setting up the base for your model. However, they all have their unique functionality that plays a role in the outcome of your prints.

So, if you are getting into 3D printing and facing issues with these, then I have got just the thing for you. I will take you through the functionalities and differences of these techniques to give you a clear idea of these things. Let’s get going with it right away.

About 3D printing raft

Raft is a layering method of 3D printing. It’s a layer that goes under the object or model you will 3D print. It works as a base for the actual model you will be printing. It makes sure the printing process goes smoothly, and you get quality prints.

How does 3D printing raft work?

The working process of a raft is pretty simple to understand. You have to create a layer to hold your printable object rather than printing it directly on the build plate.

These are some basic settings that will always be there. Depending on your printer and software, you may find more options to work with. But this is something to know.

  • Top layers: This is the setting that determines how many layers will be there in your raft. You will need to have at least two or three layers on this setting. You can increase the number if you face issues with the bottom of the raft.
  • Raft base layer: It’s the most important layer setting. This will allow you to have a strong base for the rest of the raft to work out. So, you will need to go for a thick layer here and aim for proper adhesion.
  • Separation distance: This setting allows you to separate your actual model from the raft. This is very important as you don’t want your model to get stuck on the raft surface; also, you don’t want it too much separated. To start, you can go for a 0.1mm separation distance.

Aside from these, you may come across many settings. Another one is raft offset which isn’t available in all sliders. So, you have to learn the details and change them accordingly.

When Should you use it?

There are specific moments or requirements for using raft printing. Let’s get to know the purposes of raft 3D printing, and you will know when to use this technique.

  • Using raft 3D printing helps you avoid the print from any warping issues. It’s a crucial effect when you are printing with ABS filament as they can warp pretty easily. Having a raft layer will stop that from happening.
  • A raft layer can also provide better bed adhesion. You can rely on the print results more due to that kind of adhesion in your print bed.
  • If your printable model involves small footprints that require extra stability, adding a raft layer can help. With a raft layer, you can get better stability on the models that have a small footprint in the beginning.

About 3D printing brim

The brim is another 3D printing technique that creates an outer edge on the model you will be printing. This is there to hold on to the print in place, so it doesn’t go out of the range. This works as a guideline as well.

How does 3D printing brim work?

Unlike the raft, you won’t create a layer beneath your actual print model in the brim. Here, you will create an outer edge that looks like an outline to the actual model. It provides support to your printer models.

There are various settings that you may come across in different software. The two most important settings you have to check are-

  • Line count: In the line count, you determine how many contour lines you want in your brim. A higher number means more strength. However, a higher number of lines is also quite difficult to remove. So, you have to see what you are printing and how much strength it needs from the brim. The ideal count is to have somewhere around 3 to 6.
  • Brim width: Brim width signifies the width of the brim you want—the wider the brim, the better the support. Once again, you have to check up on the model you are printing. If it’s a heavy model, go for a higher width. If it’s a light one, go for a lower width.

When should you use it?

There are several purposes of using a brim. The main goal is to provide support for your actual printed model. Other than that, it serves the following purposes-

  • Brim can prevent warping issues by stopping the filament from spreading while printing. When you use brim, it creates an outline around the print model. And your model will have to print within that area.
  • It can also help in getting better bed adhesion. This functionality is quite similar to raft 3D printing.
  • It can get hard to remove your printed models from the bed at times. Having a brim outline on your print makes it easier to remove.
  • The finishing of your printed models gets a better look when you use brim. It initially gives support to the print that allows you to get clean-looking prints every time.

About 3D printing skirt  

While brim is an outline attached to the print model, a skirt is an outline that has a gap in between. It works like a guiding or limiting area for the print model. It doesn’t support the model directly, but it helps you understand the bed leveling, flow, adhesion, etc.

How does 3D printing skirt work?

Well, I usually use a skirt as a guiding and testing technique since it doesn’t support the prints directly. Most people use it for the same purpose. Now, here are two important settings to go through when you use a skirt.

  • Skirt line count: This is just like the brim line count. You have to determine how many lines there will be in the outline print. Even one line can do the job as there is nothing to support here. Still, you can go for three lines to check up on the priming of the printer.
  • Skirt distance: This setting determines the distance between the skirt and the print you will be doing. Since you are opting for the skirt, you should keep it at a fair amount of distance to give your print some room.

When to use it?

Here’s the part you have to be concerned with skirt technique. As it doesn’t affect the print quality or help it directly, you have to consider whether you want to do it or not.

Going for a skirt can help you get an idea if the primer is proper or not. It helps to understand the layer properties and bed leveling along with many other kinds of stuff. You can consider it as a test print as well. So, you can use a skirt whenever you want to depend on you want to do it or not.

3D printing raft vs. brim vs. skirt

Among these three, raft and brim have similar functionality, and they are interchangeable as well. So, it cannot be easy to choose between these two. That’s I suggest taking a look at their advantages and disadvantages.

With a raft 3D printing, you can get a strong base with excellent bed adhesion. This gives you a higher chance of getting quality and consistent prints every time. However, it also gives the bottom layer of your print a rough finish. And with a dense raft, it can get very difficult to separate the model.

On the other hand, a brim gives your model great support from all sides. It also helps in getting good bed adhesion and providing quality results. While it keeps the model’s bottom smooth, you still have to do some sanding on the sides for quality results.

So, as you can see, you have to decide between these two depending on the surface you prefer. To make things easier for you, I have a crucial tip. If your model has a complicated shape and has a larger height, you should go for the raft. And if it has a lower height and a simpler shape, then go for a brim.

As for the skirt, it’s a good practice to try out. It helps you find out any flaws in the printer and helps you from wasting too much printing material in case of any malfunction.

Final words

To sum it up, the raft vs. brim vs. skirt may seem like confusion to follow through, but it isn’t that complicated. All you have to do is figure out what your model requires the most. If you know the machine is working perfectly, you can completely rule out the skirt technique.

As for brim and raft, I already gave you a golden tip to that. It will surely help you out in choosing a particular technique whenever you’re printing your 3D models.


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