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Faster Workflows for Complex 3D Printing

As the levels of complexity achievable using desktop 3D printing increase, so do the demands on the materials that are used for it.

The saying that "....with 3D printing, complexity comes for free" isn't strictly true. At the very least complexity costs you time, whether that be the actual 3D printing time or the post-processing time required to deal with support material.

Another trend with support material is that there can sometimes be more support material in the print than the actual model material. An example of that is shown here where there is almost three times the amount of support material compared to the model material :


The availability of soluble support material has been beneficial in terms of being able to achieve better quality overhanging complex surfaces (not to mention reducing the risk of possible personal injuries when using sharp tools to cleanly remove non-soluble support). 

However, the most popular material for soluble support is PVA, which can be very slow to dissolve even with manual intervention and constant agitation. Having to wait hours and hours before your 3D print can be put to use after it came off the buildplate can be frustrating, especially if "time is money". 

So it was interesting recently to be able to put a new type of soluble support material to the test with the promise of a quicker dissolve time than PVA. The filament in question is called Butenediol Vinyl Alcohol (BVOH - thank heavens for abbreviations!) and is made by Verbatim.

You can get an idea of the dissolve rate of this material from this short video clip. 

For my full review of the material and the back-to-back comparison to PVA see this video :

The overall conclusion is that BVOH dissolves significantly quicker than PVA, as well as subjectively offering a better printing performance. With some manual intervention and agitation, the removal times for BVOH can be shortened dramatically, which means your 3D print is ready to do what you produced it for in a shorter time. 

As more industry-users adopt desktop 3D printing because it offers the ability to produce increasingly complex parts in an ever-widening range of materials then faster workflows become even more important.  In this respect the time-saving advantage of BVOH compared to PVA can offer a very valuable performance advantage.

You can find more Verbatim here



A mechanical engineer with lots of product design and manufacturing experience in the automotive industry who's now fortunate to be working with "The Future of Making Things"

17 Oct 2017, 8:18