We generally think of 3D printed components as being hard bits of plastic, because for the most part, that’s what we’ve got loaded up in our desktop machines. But outside of the normal PLA, PETG, and ABS, you can also print with various flexible filaments such as TPU. This can be handy for producing custom seals, or rugged enclosures.
But what if you want to make very thin rubberized parts? In that case, the 0.4 mm nozzle on most desktop machines will be your limiting factor. But not so with the method [Daniel Bauen] demonstrates in his latest Engineerable video. The trick here is that the printer isn’t producing the final product — it’s making a water-soluble plug that has been slightly undersized for the application at hand.
Once the plug has been printed, [Daniel] sprays it with several coats of Plasti Dip. This builds up a rubberized coating on the printed part, and once it’s reached the desired thickness, the whole thing gets tossed into an ultrasonic cleaner to break up the filament. What you’re left with is a silicone-like part that has the same shape as your original print, but is far thinner than anything you could have extruded normally.
So what is [Daniel] looking to accomplish with this technique? We’ll admit the shape of the object is rather suggestive, but in that case, the dimensions just leave us with more questions than answers. Perhaps we’ll learn more in the next video, which we’re told will see the plugs get dipped into latex.
If subtractive manufacturing is more your speed, you can always freeze a sheet of rubber and use a CNC to cut custom parts out of it.
Continue reading “Ultra-Thin Rubber Parts Made With A 3D Printed Plug”
Complex 3D-printed designs often require the use of an automatically generated support structure around them for stability. While this enables some truly incredible results, it adds considerable time and cost to the printing process. Plus there’s the painstaking process of removing all the support material without damaging the object itself. If you’ve got a suitably high-end 3D printer, one solution to this problem is doing the supports in a water soluble filament; just toss the print into a bath and wait for the support to dissolve away.
But what if you’re trying to print something that’s complex and also needs to be soluble? That’s precisely what [Jacob Blitzer] has been experimenting with recently. The trick is finding two filaments that can be printed at the same time but are dissolved with two different solutions. His experimentation has proved it’s possible to do with consumer-level hardware, but it isn’t easy and it’s definitely not cheap.
You might be wondering what the possible application for this technique is. For [Jacob], he wanted to be able to print hollow molds in complex geometric shapes that would ultimately be filled with concrete. The molds required extensive internal supports that would have been all but impossible to remove if they weren’t printed in a soluble filament. But he also wanted to be able to dissolve the mold once the concrete inside had cured. So he needed one easy to dissolve filament for the supports, and a harder to dissolve one for the actual mold.
For the mold itself, [Jacob] went with High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) which can be dissolved with an industrial degreaser called Limonene. It’s expensive, and rather nasty to work with, but it does an excellent job of eating away the HIPS so that’s one problem solved. Finding a water-soluble filament for the supports that could be printed at similar temperatures to the HIPS took months of research, but eventually he found one called HyroFill that fit the bill. Unfortunately, it costs an eye-watering $175 USD per kilogram.
So you have the filaments, but what can actually print them at the same time? Multi-material 3D printing is a tricky topic, and there’s a few different approaches that have been developed over the years. In the end, [Jacob] opted to go with the FORMBOT T-Rex that uses the old-school method of having two individual hotends and extruders. It’s the simplest method conceptually, but calibrating such a machine is notoriously difficult. Running two exotic and temperamental filaments at the same time certainly doesn’t help matters.
After all the time, money, and effort put into the project (he also had to write the software that would create the 3D models in the first place) [Jacob] says he’s not exactly thrilled with the results. He’s produced some undeniably stunning pieces, but the failure rate is very high. Still, it’s fascinating research that appears to be the first of its kind, so we’re glad that he’s shared it for the benefit of the community and look forward to seeing where it goes from here.
Over the last year, it seems the next big thing in 3D printing is dual and multi-extrusion. This gets you multi-colored objects, but if you have the right filament, it also allows you to print objects that would otherwise be impossible to print. This week, Airwolf 3D announced their HydroFill water soluble support material. They had a few sample prints and a fish tank, and yes this stuff does dissolve in water quickly.
There were a few problems with dissolvable support material in the past. PVA is water soluble, but it doesn’t print well. HIPS can be dissolved in limonene, but the resulting goo is toxic. Airwolf’s HydroFill beats both of these filaments, and the prints compare well to what E3D showed off with their Scaffold filament recently.
Check out my video below where [Jack Licorish] goes over the characteristics of HydroFill.
Continue reading “CES2017: Dissolvable Support Material”