Print, rinse, repeat. That's the tagline for a new soluble filament that promises to make life a lot easier for 3D printing enthusiasts.
3D printing allows artists and designers to easily create complex objects from the comfort of their home or office. The trouble with printing intricate designs is that they require support structures — which need to be removed upon completion.
Tugging these little bits of plastic off the printed piece is tricky and can damage or ruin the finished product. Using new "Inifinity" filament from 3D Systems, however, these support structures will simply melt away when dipped in water.
The filament works with Cube 3D printers, which have a smart cartridge system that allows you to print with multiple materials. Load the printer with both a regular plastic PLA cartridge and the Infinity filament cartridge, and the Cube will automatically print the support structures in the soluble filament. Once the printing is done, plunge the product into a basin of water or run it under the tap — and the supporting material just washes away. The Infinity cartridge is made of biodegradable, corn-based plastic and is safe to send down the drain.
There are already a number of soluble printing filaments available from Makergeeks and Makerbot that dissolve in Limonene — a common nontoxic solvent made from orange rinds. The product must however be submerged in Limonene for six to 24 hours — which doesn't really compare to the Infinity's instant disappearing trick, as shown in the video below. Makergeeks also offers a PVA filament that can dissolve in warm water, but it recommends that customers use its HIPS filaments, which dissolve more "easily" in Limonene.
The Infinity Rinse-Away cartridges are available now at $49 for the Cube 3 printer and $99 for the Cube Pro.