PVA, or polyvinyl alcohol, is a water-soluble polymer that is not to be confused with PVAc, or polyvinyl acetate, which is a white glue that is water-soluble. PVA is an odorless, colorless synthetic polymer with excellent biocompatibility. It’s also biodegradable and has a low toxicity, making it suitable for usage in health items such as contact lens solution. PVA is a popular support material in 3D printing since it is water-soluble. However, it is not the easiest material to work with. Read on for more about PVA and its uses!
PVA is well recognized in the 3D printing world as a support material for multiple extrusion 3D printers. Because there is just one extruder on an FDM machine, the printed part and any support structures are usually made of the same material. Depending on where the supports are located, removing them can be a difficult task—not to mention the unsightly markings that can be left on the part in the process.
Dual-extrusion FDM printers, on the other hand, allow for the use of a variety of materials for the part and its supports, which is where PVA comes in. The major benefit of PVA filament is that it’s water-soluble, which means that support structures printed with it may be easily removed by immersing the part in water for a few hours.
This approach also eliminates the need for post-processing by preventing any marks from being left on the part (e.g. sanding). However, it is not as straightforward as it appears; dual extrusion is a difficult process that necessitates a lot of calibration in order to produce high-quality 3D prints.
PVA works effectively as a support material with PLA filaments because it requires similar printing conditions. PLA is a hydrophobic material, which means it doesn’t like water. As a result, if a PLA part is printed with PVA supports, only the supports will dissolve in water, leaving the rest of the part in great condition.
How To Use PVA
While temperature requirements for PVA filament nozzles vary, they usually range between 180 and 200°C. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results, but bear in mind that high temperatures are known to degrade PVA quickly, causing nozzles to clog.
For both PVA and PLA, a build plate temperature of 45 to 60 °C should be sufficient for bed attachment. Even so, the normal adhesion-improving tips and tactics are recommended. It’s necessary to use a part-cooling fan, but be careful not to overcool PVA, since it can become rather brittle.
PVA is water-soluble, making it an excellent choice for a support material, and the solvent can be found right in your kitchen sink. Although cold water can suffice, warm water will yield faster results.
Simply add a spool of ABS and a spool of PVA into your printer’s dual extruder, and you’re ready to make detailed prints with overhangs.
Commonly Made With PVA
PVA is widely used in the manufacturing of paper, adhesives, dissolvable packaging (such as in single-use detergent capsules), printing, eye drops, and textiles. Fishermen use dissolving PVA bags to help disseminate bait around their hook to attract and catch more fish. PVA can also be used to make slime or putty for children’s play. It’s also frequently utilized as a support material in 3D printing for detailed printing.
When To Not Use PVA Filament
Without a doubt, PVA is an excellent support material as well as a prototyping medium for 3D printing. It cannot, however, be used all the time. It is entirely dependent on your 3D printing and storage requirements. PVA filament, for example, is fantastic for prototyping, but not so much for making something that will last a long time. It will dissolve or lose some of its character as soon as it comes into touch with water or moisture. The PVA filament should not be utilized if you have storage concerns because it can dissolve when exposed to water, humidity, dampness, and high temperatures.
Print Settings Using PVA Filament
It is critical to utilize the PVA filament correctly in order to achieve the greatest results. To begin, you’ll need a printer with dual extrusion capabilities. When utilizing PVA filament 1.75, it’s critical to have the correct 3D printer. Never use PVA unless you only need the 3D object for a few hours or a short period of time. Use PLA and PVA filament together because their printing temperatures are relatively close. Choose intricately designed printing objects or parts with internal chambers.
Regardless of the material you pick, the most critical component of 3D printing is temperature control. Similarly, the precise temperature setting for the PVA filament is critical, since high temperatures might cause it to disintegrate and produce a lump. The temperature setting may differ depending on the brand you’re using. Some people can operate at temperatures as low as 180 °C, while others can work at higher temperatures.
Storage of PVA Filament
PVA filament must be stored with caution because it is sensitive to moisture and high temperatures. Make sure you store them somewhere that will keep them dry. Keep them at room temperature in sealed containers with silica. The PVA material will survive for a long time if it is stored properly. It’s great for manufacturing items that don’t need to last a long time, like laundry detergent tags.
Dry Your PVA Filament
Before using the PVA filament, make sure it is completely dry. PVA filament absorbs water easily and dissolves swiftly. It also has a high capacity for absorbing water from the air. When working with PVA filament, you must use extreme caution. With the help of the desiccant, you can keep it dry and store it properly. If you don’t store the PVA filament properly, you won’t be able to get a good print. Before utilizing the filament, make sure it’s completely dry so you can enjoy the 3D printing results.
We hope you have enjoyed our article on what PVA filament is and what it’s used for! Before you go, we wanted to share that one of the greatest ways to print 3D items with internal chambers or detailed decorations is with PVA filament. Because they are water-soluble, they are best employed as a printing support material.
PVA filament is one of the best materials for 3D printing because of its high flexibility and ease of usage. If you are looking to employ specialty material in your next print that boasts similar properties to PVA, be sure to reach out to Filamatrix for a great and easy way to buy 3D filament!