I want to print a structure that I can embed in a resin and later dissolve. I know that some fancy 3D printing systems have raft materials etc., that can be printed and later removed easily.

Can any one suggest a 3D printing material that can be dissolved in say water or another readily available solvent?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Google search: water soluble filament $\endgroup$
    – profesor79
    May 24 '18 at 15:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ MIght want to start by listing solvents you can't use because they attack your resin $\endgroup$ May 24 '18 at 15:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @professor79, Stack exchange and Google give fundamentally different types of help. Sure, Google may tell me what could work, but stackexchange actually gives insight I wouldn't otherwise find as easily that often makes a big difference... $\endgroup$
    – User2341
    May 25 '18 at 2:50

Wash-away filament used for support in PLA printing is typically PVA, which is completely water soluble and may serve your purpose. It is easily 3D printed as the primary filament and attaches well to the build plate.

Many 3D printer filament suppliers will carry this type of support material. It is important to keep it in a sealed bag with desiccant as it will absorb moisture from the air, rendering it useless for printing.

One such resource is MatterHackers which prices a half-kilogram at US$45. The link provides suitably appropriate information:

PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) is a water-soluble material that is often used as a support material, but can also be used to print independently. PVA supports are useful for complex designs where removing support material manually is difficult or impossible, but leaving the part in a water bath overnight will completely dissolve this material.

PVA filament

  • $\begingroup$ This is fantastic. The resin I want to dissolve the support out of can transport water, so this should be good. $\endgroup$
    – User2341
    May 24 '18 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ Not only PLA, PVA can also be used as support material for nylon. Printing PVA is not always successful even with the Ultimaker 3 special core for PVA, it clogs easily in my experience. $\endgroup$
    – 0scar
    May 24 '18 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ Im really having trouble getting the PVA to dissolve away after printing inside of weird internal structures. Are there tricks for this? $\endgroup$
    – User2341
    Jun 4 '18 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ hot water works better than cool water and agitation improves removal. If the part will fit in an ultrasonic cleaner, you'd get water heating from the ultrasound as well as microscopic bubbles helping with the agitation. Refresh the water periodically, as the PVA concentration will increase as more dissolves, reducing the rate of removal. $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    Jun 4 '18 at 22:06

ABS dissolves in acetone. Indeed actone can be used to clean up 3D prints, see What's smoother? Acetone treated PLA or ABS. PLA maybe not somuch as ABS, see the same post.

PLA dissolves in any chlorinated or fluorinated solvent, such as THF or Chloroform - both of which are significantly more hazardous than acetone.

Hence, as always take care when using solvents, see Safety precautions when using acetone

Also, as filaments are often not pure ABS or PLA, due to additives and dyes, etc., then the solvent may not dissolve the 3D printed part completely, and you may be left with a deformed, rubbery residue.


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