Removing Stratasys PolyJet Support Material

Article by Stratasys Ltd. updated March 17, 2021

Article

After 3D printed models from your Stratasys PolyJet printer have cooled, the support material must be removed. This can be done by different methods, depending on the type of Support material, the size of the model, how delicate it is, the amount and location of the Support material, and other factors.

PolyJet Support

PolyJet Support

The methods described below refer to removing general-purpose Support materials from models, for most printing applications. Use this information as a guide, and adapt the methods (or a combination of them) for cleaning your models.

PolyJet Support Material

There are two types of PolyJet Support material available:

  • SUP705 (FullCure705), a gel-like Support material.
  • SUP706, an easily removed Support material that dissolves in a solution of caustic soda and sodium metasilicate.

SUP705 (FullCure705) and SUP706 can be removed from printed models using the following methods, in this order:

  1. By hand
  2. Water pressure (in a suitable cleaning unit)
  3. SUP705: 1% caustic soda solution (recommended for a smooth finish)
    SUP706: 2% caustic soda and sodium metasilicate solution
3D Printing Post Processing

3D Printing Post Processing

Removing Excess Support Material by Hand

While wearing protective gloves, break away excess Support material on the outside of the model. For delicate models, use a toothpick, pin or small brush after dipping the model in water.

  • For SUP705, after breaking away excess Support material, soak the model in a 1% caustic soda solution (see Removing SUP705 with Caustic Soda below).
  • For SUP706, after breaking away excess Support material, soak the model in a 2% caustic soda and sodium metasilicate solution (see Removing SUP706 with Caustic Soda and Sodium Metasilicate below).

Removing Support Material with Water Pressure

For most models, the most efficient way to remove Support material is by using a high-pressure water jet. One suitable system is the Objet WaterJet cleaning unit shown below:

Waterjet Unit and sink

To clean a model using this device, you place it in the chamber, and you manipulate it and the jet using the built-in, waterproof sleeves. A pump turns ordinary tap water into a high-pressure jet, and a wiper keeps the window clear.

NOTE: Use caution when cleaning delicate models with high-pressure water systems.

Removing SUP705 with Caustic Soda

Soak models in a 1-percent solution of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) to remove Support material from difficult-to-reach areas and to give the model a smooth, clean finish. The amount of time you soak the model in the solution depends on how delicate it is and how much Support material needs to be removed, but it is typically between half-an-hour and several hours. In any case, you should remove as much Support material as possible before the caustic soda treatment, and rinse the model thoroughly (with a water jet) afterwards.

WARNING: Caustic soda may cause chemical burns, scarring and blindness. Mixing it with water generates heat that could ignite other materials. Never pour water into caustic soda. When diluting the solution, always add caustic soda to water. Take adequate safety precautions; always use nitrile gloves when handling caustic soda and models soaked in it.

Removing SUP706 with Caustic Soda and Sodium Metasilicate

Soak models in a 2-percent solution of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) and sodium metasilicate (Na2SiO3) to remove Support material. The amount of time you soak the model in the solution depends on how delicate it is and how much Support material needs to be removed. Rinse the model thoroughly under running water afterwards.

NOTE: SUP706 will dissolve into the caustic soda and sodium metasilicate solution and saturate it, reducing its effectiveness. Replace the solution when the Support material reaches 15% of the solution (after approximately one month of average use).

WARNING: Caustic soda may cause chemical burns, scarring and blindness. Mixing it with water generates heat that could ignite other materials. Never pour water into caustic soda. When diluting the solution, always add caustic soda to water. Take adequate safety precautions; always use nitrile gloves when handling caustic soda and models soaked in it.

Polyjet support material removed

Polyjet support material removed

Support Material Removal Machines

The Additive Manufacturing Post Processing solutions designed by PostProcess Technologies automate the finishing of 3D parts through a comprehensive system of proprietary software, hardware and chemistry that delivers unmatched consistency, unlimited throughput and a fast ROI.

Learn more about the Post Processing Machines available from Javelin »

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