HIPS – More than Just Support Material
When I bought my TAZ4 I picked up a large spool of white HIPS filament, figuring that I’d use it for support material with ABS. What I didn’t realize is that I’d end up using it for a whole lot more.
HIPS, or high-impact polystyrene is a lightweight filament that’s roughly half the price of ABS or PLA. It comes in a wide range of colors, and extrudes at roughly the same temperature as ABS. What’s really cool is that it dissolves in limonene, which makes it ideal for support material – just print away, then dunk the model for a while, and you have a perfect print without all that troublesome breaking, chipping and sanding. It can be painted with acrylic paints and has great dimensional stability. It adheres well to the PET tape with Elmer’s washable/purple gluestick, and releases easily once the bed is cool. I’ve been using an 85 degree bed (a bit higher than recommended), which keeps the HIPS prints dead-flat.
It does ooze a bit more than ABS, so when dual-extruding I’ve been using a wipe&prime tower in Cura, though Ben, Brent and Ray at LulzBot recommend an Ooze Shield. They ganged up on me, so I’ll try that next time I print! I’ve also tried lowering the temperature for the HIPS extruder to 225 degrees, which seems to help a bit.
Other than support material, the only thing I’ve used it for was printing lithophanes for Hacking the Digital Print – it has a wonderful translucent quality to the white version, and the oozing helps meld the passes together so it has very few visible striations. I expect it’ll also work well for the full color hydrographic and skin appliqué processes in the book. If it does, that makes it an ideal material for schools and other folks watching their 3d printing budgets.
Aleph Objects (aka LulzBot) had a heck of a Cyber Monday sale, so I’d picked up a few loose spools of ABS filament without really knowing how I was going to mount them – winding them just didn’t seem like a whole lot of fun. When I visited their offices last week, Ray shared his model for an OctoSpool to hold those loose reels. It’s a really cool design, and should make loose filament a much more attractive choice.
My first print, in orange ABS, had the typical ABS lamination challenges on large prints. I suspect the bed wasn’t absolutely perfectly level, and the room was only about 80 degrees, so that might have been part of it too.
After getting up in the morning and pulling my split pumpkin print off the plate, I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a go with HIPS. I sliced it in the Aleph Objects Cura Beta using their latest HIPS-Fast profile, and then let the printer work overnight – 14 hours later, I had a perfectly printed spool half – no delamination, no warping, just a perfect print.
[UPDATE] Production Cura is now out.
The second half is running right now (I’ll update this post with a shot of the final spool when both are done). Now I’m off to order another spool of HIPS to print my other two spool holders. HIPS is my new favorite filament for this kind of print, cheap, strong, and easy to work with.
Have you experimented with HIPS for other things? Drop me a comment and share your experiences.