Why Do 3D Printers Need A Skirt, Brim Or Raft? Which One To Use!

Preparation is an important step to making sure your prints turn out well. Some of the most important preparations include calibrating your printer, drying your filament and printing adhesion layers. 

Fail to use the right layer height, and you might clog your nozzle. Try to print with wet filament, and you will most likely end up with a print with holes in it. Neglect to print an adhesion layer and your prints are likely to turn out warped. But what is layer adhesion and why is it so important?

That is what we want to explore. In this article, we explore skirts, brims and rafts and how they relate to first layer adhesion. What is the difference between them and are there cases where one is better than the other?   

What Is The Purpose Of A Skirt Adhesion?

The first layer is the most critical in a 3D print. If the first layer does not adhere to the print bed, there is a high chance the print will warp or fall off particularly if it has an irregular shape. Skirts are one way of preventing either of those from happening. A skirt is a border printed around a print. It does not touch the print itself but rather forms an outline of the print. The main purpose of printing a skirt before you start printing the model is to test the printer.

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A 3D printing Skirt is a diagnostic tool to make sure:

  • Your printer is calibrated correctly.
  • Your nozzle is primed and ready to print. 

Skirts will help you save time and material. If your nozzle is clogged or your printer settings are off this could ruin your first layer and waste a lot of material. This is especially critical if you are working on a large print. 

Controlling Skirt Settings In Your Slicer

Most slicers will give you customization options for your skirt. These include:

  1. Setting how many layers the skirt should have. It’s typical to have one but you can have more.
  2. Distance between the skirt and the print. 
  3. How many lines the skirt should have. Again, it’s typical to use only one but you can have more if you are testing different settings for example.

Do 3D Printers Need A Skirt?

A skirt is not always needed when printing. It is, however, useful for testing and calibrating printer settings before printing. In this way it can help save material and ensure less errors in printing. 

Let’s say for example, your last print was with nylon, PETG or some other material. In your next print, you decide to work with PLA. Different materials require different printer settings. PLA requires a lower extrusion temperature than either nylon or PETG.

The sensible thing is to calibrate your settings for the material you are working with before you start working. A skirt helps you print at the right settings especially if you frequently use different materials. 

What Is The Difference Between A Skirt And A Brim In 3D Printing?

Both skirts and brims are used to improve layer adhesion. They achieve this in different ways, however. Skirts are used for calibrating printer settings with the goal of improving first layer adhesion. Brims help improve layer adhesion by providing direct material support for a 3D printed object.

Skirts are printed around the final object and do not come into contact with it. They are not a material support that holds a print up. 

We also highly recommend that you check out our post ” How To Take Supports Off A 3D Print Effectively?

What Is A Brim?

Brims are also borders printed around an object. The critical difference between a brim and a skirt is that a brim touches the object and directly supports it. Like a hat or cap, a brim starts from the edges of a print and fans out. 

Brims increase the surface area of your print. In that way they help it adhere better to the print bed reducing the chances of warping or tipping over. Besides layer adhesion, brims also perform the same functions as a skirt. They allow you to test your printer settings and prime your nozzle as well. 

As a brim is connected to the object, you have to tear or break it off after you are done printing. This can add to the time you spend post processing your print. Skirts and brims are not the only ways to create layer adhesion, however. There are also rafts.

What Is A Raft in 3D Printing?

A raft is a complete layer printed before the object. Unlike a brim that is printed around the print, a raft is printed around and underneath to form a platform on which the object is printed. 

Rafts are particularly useful for stabilizing a structure with an uneven form. This might be a top heavy structure with a small foot. In this way the raft adds more surface area to the print and makes it less likely to tip over as you print. What are key advantages of using either a skirt, brim or raft?

ADVANTAGEUses the least filament.Provides improved material support without using too much filament. Provides the best layer adhesion.
DISADVANTAGEDoes not provide direct material support.Adds more time to post processing.Uses the most filament.

Which Layer Adhesion Technique Should You Use?

It largely depends on the project. In cases where you do not anticipate issues with layer adhesion, for example when working with PLA, you can make do with a skirt. If you are working on a model with a very small foot or surface area, you might want to use a raft. A brim is a midpoint between the two and can be applied in most situations.


I am a very well experienced techie civil engineer who's extensively interested in 3D printing technology and even more captivated by the potential of 3D printing livable structures

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