Feb. 10, 2017
Our previous article, How To Use Support Material: Part 1, delved into the specifics of how single extrusion support works and some design considerations that you might have to take into account when modeling an object. With dual-extrusion support printing, all that goes out the window.
With multi-material printing, you don’t need to worry about bridging, you don’t need to worry about large overhangs, and you don’t need to worry about supports getting stuck in internal features. Because support materials are designed to dissolve, you can print them as densely as you need to or as close to the print surface as possible because, in the end, it’s going to completely disappear.
There are two major types of support material: PVA filament and HIPS material. PVA 3d printing filament is generally used in combination with PLA and HIPS filament with ABS because each set has similar extrusion temperatures. These are not the only support materials that exist though, as you can also use the various support materials in the LAY-AWAY Series.
PVA filament is essentially what a school glue stick is made from, and is best suited for printing alongside PLA. It’s relatively low melting temperature (200C) is a perfect match for PLA filament. It’s simple to print and doesn’t warp, however, it is hygroscopic and will readily absorb water from the atmosphere. Best practices when printing with PVA support material is too dry it in the oven before printing, or keep it in a dry storage until you’re ready to use it. Printing with PVA support material is perfect for a working environment where you can’t use chemicals or sharp tools to remove support, like in schools. PVA filament only needs tap water to dissolve, and will completely dissolve in a few hours. Warm water can help accelerate the dissolving time of the PVA supports. If you are on a time limit, you can peel and break off as much as you can before soaking it in water to cut down on the wait.
High-Impact PolyStyrene, or HIPS filament, is a plastic that is normally used for any kind of consumer packaging. With a glass-transition temperature of 100C, it flows easily and works exceptionally when working in tandem with ABS, which has a glass-transition temperature of 105C. HIPS can even be used as a build material instead of just as support material. However, in order to dissolve HIPS filament if you’re using is as a support material, you will need to use limonene – a household cleaning solvent. Limonene is derived from the rinds of lemons and as such smell like lemon. Despite that, limonene is an irritant, and can irritate your skin or lungs if in contact for too long. When using limonene, be sure not to use a plastic container, glass would be best, use gloves when submerging and removing your part from it, and wash your hands when you’re finished.
When using MatterControl, there are some additional settings that will appear by changing the "Extruder Count" under Settings > Printer > Features > Hardware:
Ford published a 3D model of their V6 engine block. Here I’ve printed it on an Ultimaker 3 with Ultimaker's Silver PLA and Ultimaker’s PVA. This was a 30 hour print with many complex internal features and overhangs. You can see that the model is flawless. Even the sharp overhangs have come out perfectly clean.
My desk needed a little plant on it to spruce it up, so I grabbed a Bulbasaur planter off Thingiverse and printed it in MatterHackers PRO ABS Teal and MatterHackers Standard HIPS Natural. This little guy took ten hours and I wanted it printed in ABS so if I want to put it on the porch or near the window, I can do that and not worry about it warping.
There’s support both supporting his belly and inside his back, but a little time in a limonene bath:
And he’s perfect. You can see that where the base and the top of the support touched the ABS there isn’t any scarring or blemishes that are common with single-extrusion support printing.
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