Comparing Soluble Support Material for 3D printers

Today we will discuss soluble support material for 3D printers that are in the extrusion category. During the extrusion-based 3D printing process, parts that feature structural overhangs or internal cavities require support material during a build. Think of it as temporary scaffolding extruded alongside the base material to support the part as it is building up layer by layer. Upon completion of a print, the support structure can be either torn away manually or dissolved in a solution.

Soluble support is removed by a completely automated process using either a wash tank or a container filled with water.

Comparing Soluble Support Material for 3D printers

Dissolvable material allows for geometries that have internal void and leaves little to no blemishes to the outer wall – keeping fine delicate features fully intact. Internal cavities and un-scarred surface-finish are features that breakaway support material cannot accommodate.

Let’s take a look at four different types of soluble supports material.

Comparing Soluble Support Material for 3D printers
The first type of soluble support we’ll cover is the most common – PVA or Polyvinyl Alcohol, a water-soluble polymer. PVA is a colorless, odorless synthetic polymer with significant biocompatibility properties. It is compatible with PLA, Tough PLA, PET-G, and Nylon.

Aquasys(r) 120 is the world’s first tap water-soluble support material that works with a wide variety of engineering materials – it is stable in up to 120 °C build chamber temperature. AquaSys are compatible with all the materials that work with PVA + ABS, ASA, TPU, Polypropylene and Polycarbonate filaments.

Both PVA and Aquasys(r) 120 will dissolve in a simple container filled with water and by adding agitation, dissolutions times are significantly decreased.

Comparing Soluble Support Material for 3D printers
Developed by Stratasys, SR-30 is a proprietary soluble support material that works seamlessly with PC-ABS, Nylon Carbon Fiber and other high temp materials, yielding exceptional results.

ESM-10 is a proprietary soluble support material engineered by 3DGence. It is the first of its kind to be compatible with performance materials – PEEK and PEKK-A, each of which have only had breakaway options outside of ESM-10.

Both SR-30 and ESM-10 require an ultrasonic tank that reaches at least 70 degrees Celsius with either Ecoworks or Techniprint’s sodium hydroxide concentrate for dissolution.

Comparing Soluble Support Material for 3D printers

As you can see, understanding soluble support material is a key component to evaluate. Contact us below to discuss your application to see if dual extrusion 3D printing with soluble support material is the right fit.

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