Apr 28, 2016 | By Alec

If you think your 3D printing abilities are limited by the quality of your 3D printer, you might want to take a look at the huge repertoire of 3D printer filament wizard Kai Parthy. The German inventor specializes in unique 3D printing filaments with functional properties that add a whole new dimension to any project, and he is always working on more. For his latest project, Kai has developed not just one, but four filaments: the LAY-AWAY series of soluble support filaments, that ensure that support is always perfectly removed without damaging the main print.

Among his earlier creations, you can find materials such as the LayWoo-D3 wood filament (and recently the LAYWOOD-FLEX version), the flexible BENDLAY flex filament, the wax-like MOLDLAY and even the sponge-like LAYFOMM. In December 2015 he added the shoe sole mimicking SOLAY filament, which was followed by the REFLECT-o-LAY filament in February 2016, which essentially mimics the reflective properties of traffic signs, safety jackets and bike reflectors. Many of them can now be ordered through your local filament dealer.

And as Kai explains to 3ders.org, success breeds competition. “The market for 3D material development is growing. There is now at least one major manufacturer in every industrialized country, and many small traders for FDM filaments as well,” he says.

But there is still much which hasn’t been done before, and Kai again brings what he calls a series of ‘un-ordinary filaments’ to the table. As he explains, we’ve all struggled to 3D print particularly complex objects at some point in our making careers. “3D prints with overhang need support structures, such as the balcony of a house, to ensure it does not fall down mid-print,” he says. But support structures are not without their limitations, as they can be difficult to remove perfectly. Nothing quite ruins a complex print as surface damage created during support removal.

To be sure, there are other possibilities. Using soluble filaments are often a perfect way to keep prints fully intact. If you happen to have dual print heads, you might have tried PVA filament for support structures– a thermoplastic polyvinyl alcohol which dissolves in water. Most importantly, its physiologically harmless. Users needing to 3D print temperature-stable objects in a heated build area sometimes use HIPS supports instead, a filament that washes off with Limonene solvent. Unfortunately, that solvent is quite expensive, polluting and has a smell that lingers for a long time after use.

As Kai explains, water is simply the best solvent around. It can be disposed of easily, doesn’t affect the health of the user, costs very little and is always available. That’s why he’s made it his mission to refine soluble PVA support filaments for various different applications. The results consist of four different filaments, that are all dimensionally stable and have very good adhesion properties.

The first three of them are water-soluble, just like PVA. But unlike PVA, they are specifically suited for different projects. LAY-CLOUD is specifically dedicated for use with flexible prints, 3D prints at around 240 degrees Celsius and has the best polyurethane adhesion of the four. It is also very easy to remove: just plunge the print in water and the LAY-CLOUD falls away in a cloudy residue. LAYaPVA, meanwhile, features high levels of print viscosity and 3D prints at around 230 degrees Celsius. A material that remains stable during long tool-changing periods, it is also very thermally stable and easily dissolves in water.

HIGH-T-LAY filament, in contrast, is especially intended for use in hot build rooms (of around 100 degrees Celsius). The perfect replacement for HIPS and the stinky Limonene, it prints at around 240 degrees Celsius and adheres perfectly to ABS, POM, PC, PLA and other common filaments. HIGH-T-LAY dissolves in water quickly, leaving just a flaky residue that can be removed with a brush.

The fourth material, finally, is different from all the others for one important reason: it dissolves in alcohol. “ETHY-LAY only dissolves in alcohol (spirits). This is advantageous for printed objects that must not come into contact with water,” Kai explains. It is perfect for projects involving sensitive bio prints, and can be easily 3D printed on an unheated build platform. It also doesn’t require a very high temperature (just around 165 degrees Celsius), so its heat won’t affect your delicate print either. Like the three other soluble filaments, it’s a perfect option for those unusual projects requiring very specific 3D printing properties. How will Kai amaze us next?



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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Peter Waller wrote at 1/5/2017 9:34:34 PM:

I have for some time been trying to find a material to use for support when printing in Alloy 910 Nylon which fails to adhere to any of them. I have just tried HIGH-T-LAY and it works really well.

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