Polymaker launches PolySupport filament, aiming to revolutionize 3D printing support material
Although FDM/FFF 3D printing technology has many benefits including a low cost of entry for new hobbyists, there has still been much to be desired in terms of a number of factors including usability and even the material properties (and subsequently, capabilities) of the finished prints.
However despite all of the imperfections that go along with FDM 3D printing, one of the biggest problems to-date has been support materials. Among other reasons, the process of removing the support material is oftentimes not only tedious, but can also damage the final parts depending on the part design and where support material was used.
As a result, many designers, engineers, hobbyists and others who use 3D printing regularly have spent time figuring out ways to avoid support material altogether by making slight design modifications or by breaking up complex models into smaller parts that are then built up into a final assembly. While this is certainly one way to do it, it can be a time-consuming practice that gets in the way of what the purpose of 3D printing is for many: to create rapid prototypes.
In an effort to help make this process as seamless as possible, 3D print filament manufacturer Polymaker has been committed to developing a new type of filament that works differently from other support materials called PolySupport.
The material, which is designed to be easily removed by hand or simple tools without leaving traces or model damage, prints with a very weak structural bond to the model it supports from the get-go for easy removal no matter how complex the final model is.
“People, especially newcomers to 3D printing tend to think that they can click a button and print anything from any 3D model“, said Dr. Xiaofan Luo, the CEO of Polymaker, “but they will soon find out, and be frustrated by, how limited desktop 3D printing can handle complex parts, due to the lack of a good solution for support“.
The technology behind the material, which can be printed on a variety of FDM and FFF 3D printers, is described by Luo as “the careful control and optimisation of interfacial adhesion between the support and the model; we have engineered PolySupport so it has just enough adhesion to ensure the support function, while the adhesion is also weak enough so one can easily initiate a interfacial fracture between the model and the support.”
To highlight how easy the material is to remove, the company even did a series of test prints using common 3D printers - such as a Makerbot Replicator 2X - with Polymaker’s PolyPlus PLA materials as the model material and PolySupport material as the support material. Once each model was printed, the support material for each was able to be removed in just minutes with little more than a pair of tweezers or hands.
According to the company, the material prints reliably at 220-240 °C with no heated build plate required and is handled similar to PLA with little or no sensitivity to moisture.
“PolySupport is the result of over a year’s R&D work, and we are really excited to finally bring it to market”, added Aaron Jennings, Design & Communications Manager for Polymaker. “We are not just stopping at R&D, we are actively working with a number of printer manufacturers and software companies to better integrate PolySupport with both hardware and software to ensure the user an easy, streamline process when printing with support.”
In addition to launching the new support material, Polymaker has also announced that they have expanded their PolyMax filament color selection by four colors to include a total of six colors including red, yellow, orange, blue, black and white.
The company has made the new materials available for users worldwide starting today over at their online store and is even offering 10% off for new purchases in celebration of the launch of the new materials. Find out more by heading over to the Polymaker online store.