How To Easily Remove a Raft on 3D Prints

When printing 3D images on any surface, you’re likely to use some rafts, brims, or supports to get the final image. Rafts help the 3D image stick better to the bed and make it easier to remove the print once done. However, once you’re done printing, you may notice that the raft also sticks to the surface, and you’ll need to find ways to remove it. 

To easily remove a raft on 3D prints, you can either use soluble materials, have the right software settings, or make some adjustments to your software settings. Whichever the case, removing rafts from your 3D images isn’t a hard process.

If you’ve been wondering how to remove the 3D rafts, you’ll find this article particularly helpful. We’ll highlight three effective methods that you can use to remove them. But first, let’s look at what rafts are and how important they are when printing 3D prints. 

What Are Rafts?

The easiest way to understand rafts is to think of them as a base that the printer creates below the model to ensure the 3D image sticks on the surface. Rafts achieve this by creating more surface area for the image. 

Rafts create a base under the entire model, which can be several layers tall, depending on your printer settings. The number of layers you need for your print will determine how much plastic you use since rafts create the underneath base using plastic. 

Although they are left behind after printing the 3D image, rafts are relatively easy to get off. Whenever you add rafts when printing 3D models, you benefit from a stable base. 

Whenever you use rafts to create your 3D images, the slicer software you use makes the contact points relatively easy to remove from the model. If you’re printing a model that has some delicate parts, using brims becomes a necessity. 

Rafts come in handy when you’re dealing with incredibly delicate 3D images. The rafts help provide more stability, provide better print bed adhesion, and get rid of warping. 

You can still print your 3D images without rafts, for which you’ll need proper printer calibration and maintenance. You may also have to use a heated build plate or print bed adhesives to get the image stuck on the surface. 

Once 3D printing is done, the raft is manually removed, and this is usually a simple process. However, sometimes it’s almost impossible to separate the raft from the model. Let’s look at why this may happen.

Why 3D Print Raft Can Be Difficult To Remove

Normally, 3D print rafts are designed for easy peeling off after the printing process is complete. If your raft is difficult to remove, the following are the likely reasons why:

  • Overheating: If the extruded material for creating your 3D model overheats, the different layers remain viscous longer than they should. This means they’ll stick to each other hence making separation from the raft an uphill task. Overheating can occur for various reasons: if the ambient temperature is more than 28°C (82.4°F), the nozzle and platform are too close, or having a clogged hotend or nozzle.
  • Hardware malfunction: There are a number of machine parts responsible for effective model-cooling, e.g., the thermocouple & heater, the extruder cable & fans, the motherboard, and the extruder printed circuit board (PCB). If any of these parts malfunctions, the final result is an overheated model, which will result in the draft and model fusing too tightly to each other.

So you’ve already got your 3D image printed, but the rafts left behind are a hindrance. How do you go about it? 

Here are some proven steps you can take to eliminate the rafts in your 3D images completely. 

Check Your Software Settings

Often, the software slicer you use when printing your 3D images will come with some preset settings. Most people don’t know that your software settings play a crucial role in removing the rafts from your 3D creations. 

Be sure to double-check your software settings before you begin printing.

For example, if you navigate to the ‘Raft Air Gap’ setting, you can make some adjustments to make it easier to remove the raft so that it’s easier to peel it off. 

Whenever you adjust these settings, you can raise the first layer of the raft bond by a few layers to decrease the bond between the raft and the model. The settings adjustments you make on the raft ensure that you don’t need any special equipment to peel it off. 

If you want to achieve a smooth finish, ensure that the raft has two or more top layers. Additionally, your printing temperature shouldn’t be too high that it affects the adhesion between the raft and the model. 

Incorporate Soluble Materials

If you have a 3D printer that comes with a double extruder, you’re going to love this tip. Using soluble materials can help you remove the rafts from your 3D prints much faster. 

When using rafts to print your 3D models, some filaments useful in providing support dissolve when they contact certain liquids. 

For example, if you’re using PVA and HIPS filaments, you can quickly eliminate the rafts left behind by immersing them in a water solution. It dissolves them completely. 

If you’re looking to remove rafts without leaving any marks behind, this should be your go-to solution. 

Use soluble materials to get rid of 3D printing rafts that are difficult to remove. It gets rid of all residual material that may be stuck at the bottom of the model, which leaves you with a clean and smooth image. 

Ensure the Hardware Is in Top-Notch Condition

As we’ve stated above, sometimes, your models may overheat if you don’t provide the right printing conditions. The extra heat makes the rafts stick even harder to your 3D models. 

Your printer’s hardware issue may stem from a malfunction of the various model-cooling features available, including extruder fans, printed circuit board, motherboard, and extruder cable. 

For example, if the extruder blower fan isn’t in exquisite condition, the blades will either spin too slow or not at all, which provides inadequate cooling for the 3D model.

If you’ve met all the ideal printing conditions and you still have an overheating problem, check that your nozzles aren’t clogged. Using acetone to clean the nozzles gets rid of the residue, and consequently, the overheating of hardware when printing. 

You may have to install a new nozzle if you’ve used other filaments before that produced printing that was hard to separate from the rafts. 

If you still have a problem after trying the above suggestions, you may have to replace the heater, extruder cable, extruder PCB, thermocouple, and even motherboard in some extreme cases. 

The Best Tools for Removing Rafts on 3D Prints

Now that you know how to get rid of the rafts, you’re probably wondering what tools you should start buying. Luckily for you, you don’t need a ton of equipment to get the perfect 3D image. 

A needle nose plier will especially come in handy when you’re trying to get rid of that extra filament. Ideally, it would be best if you also got some sandpaper. Once you have the residual rafts removed, you’re bound to have some rough edges. The sandpaper will be helpful if you’re looking to achieve smooth edges. 

However, the rough edges are an excellent idea if the artist in you feels a bit adventurous. 

Parting Shot

Anyone who’s done 3D printing will agree that it’s almost impossible to ignore rafts when you’re trying to get the perfect image, especially when the details are a bit complicated. 

That said, taking off the rafts from your 3D image shouldn’t be the cause of all your troubles. If you check your software settings before printing, you should have an easier time getting rid of them. Additionally, using soluble materials makes it easier to get rid of the raft residual. If the problem persists, you should probably check your hardware and ensure it’s in top-notch working condition. 


Jay Simmons

Jay Simmons is the main writer for The 3D Bros. He has several years experience working with 3D printers, and is the the co-owner of Cubold Manufacturing, LLC.

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