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13 Tips for Effectively Removing a Brim From a 3D Print

Brims are flat planes that you attach to the model’s external dimensions during 3D printing. Though they’re essential in the process, they become unnecessary afterward, and you will have to remove them. Brims are made of thin layers that you can easily remove, but sometimes it is difficult to extract them from your 3D print effectively without damaging your object.

Here are 13 tips for effectively removing a brim from a 3D print:

  1. Adjust the slicer setting for the brim (print setup).
  2. Bend the brim a couple of times with your hand.
  3. Cut off the brim using a deburring knife.
  4. Use a nipper to cut the brim.
  5. Use a knife (with exchangeable blades).
  6. Use soluble materials.
  7. Sand it off.
  8. Make the first layer of the brim thin.
  9. Use a thin tweezer.
  10. Use a hot knife.
  11. Use needle-nose pliers.
  12. Use a standard wool hubby knife
  13. Use a flush cutting tool.

Removing brims from 3D prints can be challenging if you lack the appropriate tools or methods. In this article, I will discuss several tips that will enable you to extract the brims without damaging your print. Read on to learn the method that suits you best. 

1. Adjust the Slicer Setting for the Brim (Print Setup)

When printing an object using a 3D printer, the brims usually stick firmly to your print. Although they should peel off after you’re through, removing them can be an uphill task, especially when you want to achieve the preferred shape of your object at the end. Now, using the right software settings on your 3D printer before printing is one of the best ways to avoid distorting your model.

Most model slicing software are preset for building brims and rafts. However, you can adjust them to have your preferred spacing dimensions to increase the gap between the model and the brims (and/or rafts).

Good spacing between the brim and the model produces proper bed adhesion, making it easy for you to remove the brim after printing.

For instance, the “Raft Air Gap” is a setting that you can apply to create a wider gap between the raft and your print model. Although it is designed for rafts, you can also apply the same concept when using brims in 3D printing.

Under settings (Print setup), you can add more brim lines, for instance, 25 line count, which will ease the removal process. You can also preset the brim width option. In this case, you will set a wider width, creating a large ring around your object.

That will help you to peel off the brim from your 3D print without any struggle.

2. Bend the Brim a Couple of Times With Your Hand

After printing your object, the brim usually attaches at the edges of your model. If it doesn’t stick too firmly on the outline, removing the brim with your hands without damaging the print is easy.

Here’s how you can extract such an outline effectively:

Bend the brim first against the model and then backward. Repeat this step a couple of times until it loosens, and the brim will fall off. You can also twist it back and forth as many times as possible, and either way, the brim will peel off.

Note: While removing the brim from your object, ensure that you have some No-Cut-Gloves on. These gloves will protect your hands from the sharp plastic that might slip and cut you while bending it. I like the Dowellife Cut Resistant Gloves on Amazon.com. They’re made of blended special high elastic nylon, which makes the gloves fit perfectly. 

3. Cut Off the Brim Using a Deburring Knife

Are you looking for an alternative method of removing a brim from your 3D object? You don’t have to worry, as you can easily cut it off using a deburring tool. The appliance is affordable, readily available, and easy to use.

Here is how to use it:

  1. Hold the tool so that it is right up against the edge you wish to cut.
  2. Slice the exterior portion of your 3D print at an angle along the edge to create friction. 
  3. Repeat the procedure on the other corners of your image until the brim falls off.

Helpful tip: Use adequate safety equipment while cutting the brim from the model. For instance, some safety glasses are recommended for protecting your eyes from any plastic that flings all over the place. You wouldn’t want to hurt yourself, right? So, keep safety in mind the whole time.

4. Use a Nipper To Cut the Brim

You can use two types of nippers to remove a brim from your object. These include plastic scissors and flat nippers. Both tools are effective, and you can use either depending on your preference or their availability. However, you can also use both for the best results.

Now, here’s how to extract the brim using a nipper:

1. Take your scissors-like nipper and cut along the external parts of your print carefully. Here’s a video you can watch: 
2. Use your hand to extract the brim as it will loosen afterward. 
3. Grab the other flat nipper and cut any brim residue that remains after peeling.

Remember, you should always be careful while using these tools as most of them are sharp and can easily cut you if you mishandle them. Moreover, as far as your safety is concerned, cut away from yourself (against the direction you are slicing from).

5. Use a Knife (With Exchangeable Blades)

If you want to make your model look smoother at its edges, you will most likely need a good knife. Try investing in a knife such as the X-Acto X3311 Knife on Amazon.com. It has a lightweight handle and is ideal for delicate, precision cutting, trimming, and stripping.

Using the knife, cut through your model’s edges evenly, and there are chances that the brims will remain. Using a sharp knife will help save time as it will only cut off the parts you want to get rid of (the brim attached to the perimeter of your model).

The knife’s sharpness also helps you to use slight force while cutting off the brims. Moreover, its breaking strength is excellent as you can easily break the part that holds the edge firmly. So, you can make this one of your must-have tools during 3D printing.

6. Use Soluble Materials

Some 3D printers comprise double extruders made of soluble materials and usually come with a dissolving kit. If you bought one that doesn’t have this, don’t worry as you can also use water. It acts as a solvent for removing brims evenly because filaments like PVA dissolve quickly when they come into contact with water.

The best way to dissolve a brim with PVA filament is by submerging your model in cold or warm water (depending on the building material). You can leave it still for approximately ten minutes for it to absorb water evenly. The brim will eventually peel off, leaving no traces on your print model.

However, if you want to accelerate this process, you can heat the water and ensure it is not hotter than 35 °C (95°F). Maintaining a higher than normal temperature in the water will help speed up the dissolving process. You can also stir after subjecting your object to water because moving water lets the PVA melt rapidly.

7. Sand It Off

After removing brims from your 3D print using tools, you might also notice some rough traces on your object’s edges. These are just the brim remnants that you can remove by sanding the surface.

To eliminate these brim remnants, start by sanding the surface manually or using grinding machine tools. Choosing the appropriate one to use will depend on your preference. Whichever way you decide to do this, make sure it removes the brims effectively.

If you are looking for proper sandpaper to use, check out the WaterLuu Wet & Dry Sandpaper on Amazon.com. It comes with a full range of grits assortment and is ideal for aggressive or refined sanding.

8. Make the First Layer of the Brim Thin

Before printing your object, there are vital things to consider to avoid difficulties with removing brims. One of the ways to make it easier for you is by making thin brim layers that you can peel smoothly.

For instance, making the first brim layer about 12 mm (0.47 inches) wide is advisable before the printing process. The thin brim layer will speed up the extraction process as you can split them easily.

Moreover, if you prefer to squish the first layer of the brim, a width of 0.05 mm (0.0019 inches) can be a good start. Check out how Simplify 3D makes the first layer thin to ease the brim removal process.

9. Use a Thin Tweezer

Usually, prints that use support will require post-processing to remove the brims. However, you can also detach them by hand or use some tools to break them away. Now, tweezers are an example of the tools that come in handy during this procedure.

While separating the brim from your model using tweezers, you should pull the brim upwards. Since the brim only holds the object’s edges, it will be easy for you to detach it.

10. Use a Hot Knife

There is yet another effective tool to use for detaching a brim (or brim remnants) from a 3D print—a hot knife.

A hot knife will remove brims from your 3D print model in no time. This tool resembles a wood burner, but the main difference is that it has a blade and can also regulate its temperature.

If you choose to use this hot knife, there is a specific way to go about it: 

  1. Set the hot knife to about 230 °C (446 °F). 
  2. Allow the temperature to rise for a few minutes. 
  3. Cut through the model’s edges, and while doing this, you will feel it cutting the brim smoothly like slicing butter.
  4. Use other tips on the hot knife to smoothen out parts of the model.

Check out this video for a closer view of how to use the hot knife:

Note: When using a hot knife, ensure that the temperature is not too high. Extremely high temperatures can discolor or melt some features of your model or eventually burn them.

11. Use Needle-Nose Pliers

Some people use needle-nose pliers to extract brims from their 3D prints. They are among the best tools as they remove the thin layers of plastic effectively. Now, if you want to get some high-quality models for sale after 3D printing, choose a high-quality pair of needle-nose pliers.

In most cases, the brims are usually thin, and their filament is easy to detach from a model. With the help of a needle-nose plier, you can grab the trimmed edges attached to the model no matter how firm they are. Moreover, the pliers can trim the edges to your desired shape.

The AMX3d 5” Needle Nose Pliers for 3D Printing & 3D Print cleanup on Amazon.com are extremely effective. They have anti-slip handles that are easy to grip, making operating them easier. 

12. Use a Standard Wool Hubby Knife

Most people use wool hubby knives to cut through carcasses while butchering or when repairing buildings. But did you know you can use it to cut off a brim from your 3D print? It gives the best cut and a perfect split because of its sharp blades.

Using a standard wool hubby knife can help you remove a brim from your object after 3D printing. You just have to cut through the edges quickly and then use your hand to grab them.

Furthermore, if you want to trim your object to its original shape without damaging it, you can use this knife to cut through the brims without applying much force. So, if you don’t want to miss having a full-range cutting motion that makes a clean-cut, get one for your 3D prints.

13. Use a Flush Cutting Tool

Flush cutters are double-edged tools that have different uses apart from cutting thin wires. You can also use them to detach brims from your 3D models in the same way as cutting wire strands.

A flush cutter creates a smooth cut on the edges of a 3D print model. For example, the Lindstrom Cutter Ultra Flush on Amazon.com is an effective tool that will detach brims from your model in no time. It easily snips the brims away, leaving an excellent finish.

You can get flush-cutting tools in various sizes and choose your preferred one for the best results.