In appearance, the choice of a soluble filament seems ideal to overcome the constraints specific to the 3D printer, but it is not as simple !

First of all, the soluble filament is very expensive: using it as a support for a piece considerably increases the price of the printed piece. As a result: a sharp decrease in the profitability of the use of the 3D printer, supposed to be an innovation compared to other modes of production.

But that’s not all: the production of HIPS or PVA type filaments is extremely polluting. It’s a shame to choose to work PLA (environmentally friendly) to associate it with polluting PVA. In addition, the water, in which the filament will be dissolved, will be thrown with toxic products that will help destroy the flora and fauna, while further reducing this increasingly less renewable resource.

Finally, because it is dissolved, it will never be recyclable, while more and more research goes in the direction of filament recycling. The soluble filament is therefore for single use while the others can be reused by recycling.

Using this product does not seem to enhance the value of 3D printing manufacturing, but it is possible to work differently materials to overcome the soluble filaments. For starters, the constraints of design with the 3D printer can be considered as assets, it would allow to design parts that do not need support. Of course, this is not possible for all parts, but before considering the use of soluble filament, we can first assess the possibilities of doing the support with the same filament that will be used to print the piece. Good software and good knowledge of .gcode file generation make it possible to obtain a support which will be easily detached from the part with a good final rendering.

Obviously, for some parts, this technique will not work: the need for support will be too precise to print in the same filament as the piece is impossible. In which case it is a question of configuring this soluble support so that it is present as little as possible: by using it in complement of the other filament for example.

3D printing is a real technological breakthrough: saving time, gaining material (we are no longer in the cutting of material, with the fall and therefore the waste, but in the creation of material made to measure), new possibilities of parts unthinkable without this tool, … Allow this fantastic tool to be part of a sustainable approach.