Dissolving PLA – EXPERIMENTAL
The following describes our new EXPERIMENTAL process used dissolve PLA when used as a support material. In this case, ABS is used as the model material in combination with the PLA support material. A compatible low temperature Nylon will also be available shortly. This can be done with software generated support or manually designed support structures: SLICING – Creating custom support structures with CAD. In both support generation methods, the goal is to dissolve away the PLA and leave behind the model material. A dual head HD2x is required to print using dissolvable PLA supports. Always wear protective gear (listed below) when working with any chemical solutions. FOLLOW ALL SAFETY GUIDELINES AND INSTRUCTIONS ON THE CHEMICALS USED.
- ABS (more compatible materials coming soon)
- PLA (Natural or White)
- Glass prepped with blue/red masking tape
- Instant Power Hair & Grease Drain Opener (available at Home Depot; Model # 1969; Internet # 100144566; Store SKU # 417725; MSDS is attached at the bottom)
- Ultrasonic Heated Tank or Heated pump tank (optional)
- Clean Water
- White Vinegar
- Mixing Container (Polypropylene or glass)
- Stirring Spoon (Can use paint stirring stick)
- Protective Gloves
- Protective Clothing
- Protective Eyewear
- Clean and ventilated area
1) Select a suitable part for dual head printing with PLA support. Slice the part using our HD Dual ABS PLA settings in the HD2x Dropbox. Print the part on the HD2x
- Model Material = ABS
- Support Material = Standard PLA
- Print with a raft
- Use the extruder fan
- Print on Airwolf Red Tape
2) Put on protective gear. Mix the Hair & Grease Drain Opener with water in a ratio of 1:4. This can be done in the polypropylene container or any non-reactive chemical container.
- Mix enough solution to fully submerge the part
3) Pour the solution into the heated ultrasonic/pump tank. Fully submerge the printed part into the solution.
- Dissolving the PLA in a heated ultrasonic/pump tank will speed up the process but is not necessary
- For best results, heat the solution to 110° – 120°F (43° – 48°C)
- The least amount of time possible that the part is in the tank, the better; the solution will have lesser chance of affecting the model material (ABS, Nylon, etc)
- Heating the print too much will distort the geometry of the part, so do not overheat
- Cover the tank to prevent moisture loss
4) Set a timer to periodically check and stir the solution every 20 minutes. Always use protective gear when stirring the solution.
5) Once the PLA has been dissolved, use a spoon or tongs to remove the part from the tank. Thoroughly rinse the part off and let it sit in a bucket of clean water for 30 min. Remove the part and set it on a drying rack. The part will have residual chemicals on the surface so continue to handle with gloves until the part is completely dry and free of residue.
6) Once dried, the part should be smooth and not sticky. If it is sticky, use white vinegar to completely clean off all remaining solution.
7) Clean your work area with water and White Vinegar
Please open a Tech Ticket if you have any questions or need assistance with this process.