I find I spend a lot of time cleaning up my prints on the MakerBot Mini - what tools are best for cutting away and removing the extra PLA filament?

I’m a new owner (less than one month).



Welcome to 3D printing! A needle nose plier will be your best friend for removing that extra filament. I would also recommend grabbing some sand paper to help smooth out the roughness of support removal spots.

minimize support material

use sharp tools - flush cutters, knife, metal file… drummel tool with a burr type bit.

To resmooth the worked areas use either heat (hot air or heated tool) and clear acrylic.

Hi there,

by using custom supports from third party developers, we had great results.

Check out www[.]meshmixer[.]com. it is a freeware that lets you create supports only where you need them. Of course, a little tweaking is required when you get started. And remember to turn off the Makerbot Desktop support structure!

Hope that helps!

Hi Beth.

I’m an old hand. Had the machine since August!!

I found the same, PLA always left stress marks where you needed to tear it or cut it away.

Then I upgraded my slicer software to Simplify 3d and installed a cooling fan on when I print with PLA, and I find that the supports just fall away in most cases. For deeper marks, I have started to use clear nail varnish - it fills the tear and is hardly noticeable…

I’m sure there are lots more suggestions on the way!!


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I use a Dremel and always run my files through an STL cleaner. Invest in a good Dremel and you will be happy. I would also agree about the slicer software as well.

“STL cleaner” - what do you use?

Lookup Meshlab or Netfabb STL Cleanup. There is a free version that Netfabb made on MSDN. It basically cleans up your file, and validates support structure. The 3D slicer is the best bet though when you are working on external supports.

Make sure your build plate is level. The raft should come off really easily.

Do you use blue painter’s tape as a build surface? It’s crucial – PLA sticks like none other to the acrylic build plate; I ended up replacing my first one because it had a bunch of PLA residue stuck to it.

This is a really good scraper tool that I use; just make sure not to scratch the acrylic:


And if you really want to treat yourself, upgrade to a glass or aluminum build plate (hunt around on ebay, amazon etc. for a suitable replacement)

Try to adjust infill and separation of raft layer as high as possible, this makes it easier to break/cut it away

Cool down the model and then heat up the model until the raft is warmer this will make it easier to cut away rafts specially with PLA. ABS is easier

I’m still using the blue stickers that came with the MakerBot Mini and that seems to be fine. The rafts don’t stick to the build plate at all, and actually the raft usually breaks off very easily, it’s the other supports and extra PLA in between pieces that is the hardest to remove.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Thanks Cris. I’m a very ‘new hand’ and not very technical yet…doesn’t the MakerBot Desktop software contain the slicer software? Can I ‘force’ it to use a different slicer software then upload to MakerBot Desktop?


my comment may have gotten lost in the “other stuff”, so here is a reference, flush cutters… http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/415/232-1010-ND/222741

These are the ones i use… you can find them for less.

Been at it a few years now and i love and hate support material…

Found the best way to remove it is a needle nose (small one) , I have a flat putty knife that i sharpened the edge of, this makes cleaning flat pieces very easy, and finally a hobby knife and some 150 grit sand paper.

When using sand paper you will find that PLA goes white, but if you are not painting the part you can easily get the color back with some WD40 and a rag :slight_smile:

Happy printing

I use a pallet knife for some things but if you increase the air gap between supports and your object it should be easy to just pull off with your fingers. Stay away from X-acto knives because most likely you will either damage or bleed on your model. Ha ha ha!

I stay away from Makerbot so cannot tell you where to find the air gap setting in their software. I’m sure someone else can step up with that info. Oblique angles also remove the easiest.

Support material is why I bought an Up! Printer. Support just peels off … It made me giggle with giddy delight the first time I did it. So my Mendel90 (not really but I had a design similar idea the same time as nophead) gets the bigger and faster jobs (current Up only has a 140x140mm build plate) and the Up gets the difficult prints. I can print any shape I like and post processing just requires lots of peeling to remove the support. No Dremel, no sharp knives. It does take a quick mod with a resistor to print with normal ABS (eom filament prints 30c hotter) but this is trivial and not warranty impacting. The Zortrax printers do the same though not sure what mods if any are required to print with non oem

No force needed. lol

Put part into your slicer. export the file as a x3g. then print. Dont even open up the makerbot desktop crap.

Ypu mention that it is easier to remove supports, if you increase the ‘air gap’ between supports and the object.

Do you know how to increase the ‘air gap’ (for instance in Cura)?

Is this ‘Distance X/Y’ and ‘Distance Z’?

Which values do you recommend?

Seconded on Simplify3D. It has configurations for many different printers built in, and it’s not hard to configure for one that’s not. Excellent ability to place and adjust supports, and they do indeed usually just fall away. And, it’s a great slicer.