Printing without support seems to be the latest philosophy or religion. But does it really save plastic?
Sure, when you design a part you can create screw holes that have a triangle at the top, so the slicer does not create supports, but does it really save plastic?
Just an example:
As you may know I made this little 3D Printer XYZ E-Step calibration tool
This just need a little support on the inside, where the calipers housing gets slotted in. This support can even be reduced to two or three vertical walls (which the printer can easily bridge) or, if your printer is calibrated and dialed in well, printed without supports at all using bridging all the way across. The inside may look a bit ugly, but it is a tool and not a thing you put onto a shelf in your living room.
Now may part got remixed by a believer of the supports religion:
He made the upper section a separate part, so he can print both without support.
The question is: Does it save plastic at all?
I would say no. I would even say he needs more plastic than I did when printing with supports.
Just to clarify my stand point: The cover part sits on vertical walls. When printing both parts individually the upper part of these walls on the lower section need a top face. The newly created cover needs the same amount of an additional bottom face. Depending on your overall slicer settings these areas itself have 2 or more 100% plastic top and bottom layers. This itself is a lot of plastic, but it gets worse. He needed to add screw holes to fixate both parts when used. These holes also have inner walls or 2 or more layers intersecting the entire top cover.
So in my opinion this does not save plastic. It needs more energy as the print takes significantly longer and more plastic. The time spend to create this is also a factor on the downside.
I know this is just one example and nothing compared to print a full size helmet. With a helmet there is clearly an advantage of splitting the part or adding curves to the model to make it print without supports.
I think it would have made more sense to add support right to the model itself. Three vertical walls within the box that do not touch the object due to a 0.1mm clearance. This would have saved plastic compared to some to dense support settings in the first place.
So what do you think?