Remove support material

Ultimaker has two types of support material:

  • PVA support
  • Breakaway support

Disolve PVA support

PVA can be used as a water soluble support for dual extrusion prints. The support structures can be removed by simply dissolving the PVA in water. The process takes several hours and leaves no trace afterwards.

1. Submerge the print in water

By putting a print with PVA in water the PVA will slowly dissolve. This process can be sped up by using:

Warm water. Warm water will decrease the dissolving time. When using PLA for the build material, ensure that the water is no hotter than 35 °C, otherwise the PLA part may deform. Never use water above 50 °C, as this increases risk of burning.

Stirring. Use stirring/running water to decrease the dissolving time. Moving water enables the PVA to dissolve more quickly (in some cases under three hours, depending on the amount of support material used).

Pliers. You can also speed up PVA dissolution by placing the print in water for approximately 10 minutes, then removing most of the support with pliers. When the print is placed back in the water, only the remaining parts of PVA will need to be dissolved.

2. Rinse with water

After PVA supports are totally dissolved, rinse the print with water to remove any excess PVA.

3. Let the print dry

Let the print dry completely and apply additional post-processing to the build material if desired.

4. Disposal of waste water

PVA is a biodegradable material, and in most cases disposing the water afterwards is easy. However, it is recommended that you check local regulations for more comprehensive guidance. The water can be disposed of down the drain, providing the waste water distribution network is connected to a wastewater treatment plant. After disposal, run hot water from the tap for approximately 30 seconds to remove any excess saturated PVA water and to avoid longer-term clogging issues.

It is possible to use the water for more than one print, however, this might extend the dissolving time. Through repeated use, the water becomes saturated by previously dissolved PVA, so for the quickest result, fresh water is recommended.

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Remove Breakaway support

Prints using Ultimaker Breakaway as support material will require post-processing to remove the support structures. This can be achieved by breaking the support structures from the build material.

Caution: It is advised to wear protective gloves when the support structure contains sharp corners or when working with bigger models.

1. Tear the inner support structure

Start by removing the walls of the support structure with a gripping plier. This allows you to quickly tear away the majority of the inner support structure.

2. Pull the Breakaway support from the build material

After removing most of the support structure, the remaining part(s) can be pulled from the build material. Use cutting pliers to grip the Breakaway support in a corner and try to carefully get underneath it, then bend it upwards. Repeat this for several corners, so that you can loosen the support from the model around the corners. After this, pull the Breakaway support from the model.

3. Peel the last traces from the model

Sometimes a final layer of the support material remains after pulling the Breakaway support from the build material. If this happens, use cutting pliers to peel it off from a loose edge. Any leftover traces on the model can be removed with tweezers.

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