Wednesday, March 18, 2015

ultrasonic support dissolve

When I was having hands printed on the Stratasys Fortus at Innovation Accelerator I noticed the bottle of Stratasys solution that was near the wash station. I noted that the "special Stratasys solution" contained sodium hydroxide. This is the same caustic solution that we utilize for a cleaning solution when anodizing aluminum so I happen to have a few bottles of the necessary material. Jerry had given me a few parts that were still loaded with support so I decided to see if I could dissolve it with my sodium hydroxide and one of my ultrasonic cleaners in my studio. I am happy to report that this worked like a charm. The ultrasonic has a heater so it keeps the solution warm and the ultrasonic action seems to speed the process; just like when I clean investment from castings. The ultrasonic cleaner also has a stainless steel liner, so that should keep it from etching through the metal (as it would with an aluminum pan-ask me how I know this). I left the parts in the solution over night and came back to clean parts with no support. The parts just require a rinse after they are pulled out and then I scrub them just to remove traces of the solution. There were no remnants of support material left when the parts were pulled from the solution. I have been reading more on the topic and it appears that the solution should dissolve PLA also. I'll run some tests though and report my findings. Also, it might be nice to check out the cheap Harbor Freight ultrasonic cleaners to see how they hold up to the job.


Bryan Cera said...

Two questions: What was the support material? What machine was this printed on?

This is exciting!

Frankie Flood said...

It was printed on a Stsratasys Fortus. The support material is SR-30 (terpolymer of methacrylic acid styrene butylacrylate). This is basically what Stratasys uses for their clean stations- lye in an ultrasonic cleaner.

I am testing the PLA dissolve in the sodium hydroxide right now and should be able to repot on this tonight.

I still believe HIPS will need to be dissolved in limonene rather than caustic solution.

You might also check out: as they have a PVA filament that dissolves in water.

HIPS works well with ABS printing as it's the S and B of ABS. ABS doesn't like to stick to PLA so I'll need to see what it takes to print PLA as support for ABS.

In the mean time I need to look into SP-30 for our DIY printers.