Skirts Vs Brims Vs Rafts – A Quick 3D Printing Guide

There is so much terminology surrounding 3D printing that it can often get confusing. Three words that you will often hear are skirts, brims, and rafts, and if you don’t know what they mean, it can be really difficult to understand what is going on.

Like with any hobby or subject, there are going to be words that are commonly associated with it that you will need to learn in order to gain a better understanding. Otherwise, you will be left frustrated and confused, wondering what to do next.

To help you out, we are going to talk about these three things so the next time they come up, you will know exactly what they mean. All of these things are essential to know about for 3D printing, and you will need to know what they mean to create the best results. 

Skirts Vs Brims Vs Rafts

If you are looking to create a successful 3D print, the first layer and continued adhesion are two of the most important things to get right. Without a good foundation to start you off, the print is not likely to work well and you probably won’t end up with the final result that you were hoping for.

This is an issue that many people have when it comes to using 3D printers, which is poor first layer adhesion can lead to a variety of different problems that are very difficult to fix. You can sometimes go in with some glue to try and fix the situation, but this might not always be practical and it won’t be the best solution.

Alternatively, if you want to avoid annoying adhesive alternatives, you can instead use adhesive structures, which are much more practical. These adhesive structures are called skirts, brims, and rafts.

These three things are used to either prime the nozzle before it comes to building up the main print, or to help ensure that your prints stay stuck down on the bed. The latter is also referred to as increasing the bed adhesion.

The majority of people will always use a skirt to prime the nozzle, but brims and rafts are typically used to provide the best possible foundation layer for your prints.

What is a Skirt?

The skirt is the outline that will surround the part without touching it.

It will be extruded on the print bed before you start to print your project, and it can be really useful for helping to prime your extruder, set the perfect base, and create a smooth flow of filament. 

You can also watch the skirt which will allow you to see if there are any leveling or adhesion issues before you start the printing process.

You can actually customize the skirt by adjusting the settings, and this will allow you to change the position of the skirt, the amount of plastic that needs to be primed, and the extruder that is going to be used for the skirt.

What You Need to Know About Using a Skirt

You will need to choose the extruder that is going to be used to print the skirt, and this will allow you to prie different extruders right at the beginning of your print. There is also the option to prime all of the extruders with the correct settings.

You will also need to decide how many layers you want to include a skirt with. Most of the time, one layer will be enough for you to be able to prime the extruder, but you can also choose to add a second or even third layer.

This can sometimes help to create a skirt that is more durable, and that can be peeled away from the bed more easily. You should also decide how far away the skirt needs to be from the edges of your project.

Finally, for the skirt outlines, you will need to decide how many loops you want to print around the outline of your model.

What is a Brim?

For those who don’t know, the brim is a certain type of skirt that will be attached to the edges of your model.

Usually, the brim will be printed with an increased number of outlines, which will create a large ring around your project. The brim will be used to hold down the edges of your project and this can help to ensure that it does not warp, and it also helps with bed adhesion.

The brim is often favored over the raft because the brim will usually print much faster while using much less filament. Once the print has finished, the brim can then be separated from the finished product and discarded.

Due to the fact that the brim is a type of skirt, many of the settings that you will need to use are the same for adjusting the skirt.

How to Use a Brim

The first thing that you will need to do is ensure that the skirt offset is set to 0mm, as this will result in the brim touching the edges of your model.

This will allow it to do its work. You will then need to increase the number of skirt outlines to around 5, but you can go higher if you need to. This will create a wide ring around your project.

If you find that you need to increase the surface area of the brim for extra adhesion, then you can further raise the number of outlines.

Once the print begins, the brim will work as a primer and an adhesion. Once the printing process is complete, the brim should easily peel away from the solid part as it is quite thin. If you do find that it gets stuck, you should slightly increase the skirt offset by 1mm or 2mm.

What is a Raft?

A raft is a horizontal latticework of filament that will be underneath your project.

Whatever you are going to print will be printed on top of the raft that is created instead of on the surface of the build platform. Rafts are most commonly used in combination with ABS materials as they will work to avoid things like warping and bed adhesion.

Additionally, the raft can also be used to help stabilize models with smaller footprints or to help create a much stronger foundation that you can use to build the upper layers of your project.

The raft has been specifically designed so that it will easily peel away from the underneath of your project while leaving behind a high-quality surface finish.

What You Need to Know About Raft Settings

The first thing that you should know is how to deal with the raft top layers, which is the number of layers that will be printed on top of the raft.

Your project will be printed on top of these layers, so you should usually have around 2 or 3 layers to make sure that the base surface is smooth.

You should also be aware of the raft base layers, which is the number of thicker layers that are at the bottom of the raft. These layers will help to create a strong bond to the build platform.

Another thing to consider is the raft offset from the project as this will determine how wide the raft will extend beyond the edges of your project.

The separation distance is a really important setting to alter, as this will define the height of the air gap between the raft and your project.

It is recommended to use a gap of at least 0.1mm to ensure that the project is actually connected to the raft while ensuring that you will still be able to separate the raft after your project is complete.

You might also find that you need to change the above raft speed which you can use to customize the speed of the first layer of your project that will be printed on top of the raft surface.

If you use a slower speed for this layer, it will help to make sure that the project remains attached to the raft during the printing process.

You should alter these settings to suit the needs of your project, but it might be worth running a test print to ensure that everything is set up correctly, ready for you to use.

Once the print has finished, you can go ahead and separate the raft from your project, and it should come away quite easily. We will explain more about removing the raft from your project below.

How to Remove a Raft From a 3D Print

You can usually remove the raft from your project by using your hands and peeling the raft away, but this might not always be viable for those delicate projects that require a little extra care and consideration.

For these projects, you should use a thin spatula or tweezers to help with the removal process. If you are struggling to separate them, then you might need to increase the raft separation distance or change other settings as needed.

You should try to be as gentle as possible when removing the raft to ensure that you do not accidentally damage your project.

You might also find that you need to use some sandpaper to smooth off the base once you have separated the raft. This can sometimes be the case if the raft was quite difficult to remove.

What are the Differences in Material Usage?

You might have guessed that using a skirt, brim, or raft, you are going to be using more materials.

The bigger the project is, the more materials you are going to use. A skirt will use the least amount of materials, but the raft and brim will use slightly more.

While this is going to create additional costs, it can be worth it when you consider all of the benefits that come with using these features.

It can also save you money by avoiding failed projects that haven’t worked out for reasons that these things can help you to avoid.


All three of these things can come in really handy when you are printing a 3D project, and they can help to eliminate some of the obstacles that you might usually face. While you don’t have to use them all, they might be better suited for certain projects that you are working on.

The skirt can be useful for any project, as it will provide you with the additional benefit of priming the nozzle and ensuring that you are able to level the bed properly and check for any issues that may occur in terms of adhesion.

The brims and rafts can be used as and when you need to, and they are mostly used for those bigger projects that struggle with bed adhesion. You should definitely try them out to see how they work for you and find out if this is something you want to use.

They might not be worth using for every single project, but they can definitely be beneficial to use at times.

All of these things will help to make the printing process much more efficient, and they will work to provide you with the strong foundation that you need to create the best possible results.

As well as this, you can be sure that your project isn’t going anywhere, and it is going to be much more stable. 

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