Monthly Archives: February 2013


When printing with an FDM 3D printer, such as a Makerbot or RepRap, you run into problems when printing objects that have large overhangs or bridges within your model. While SLS printers can use their extra material to make spacing for working mechanics within a print, that can be difficult to achieve in FDM prints. FDM printers can print support structures that are made with excess printing material, which can later be torn away, however this excess material must be on the outside or accessible within the print.

The solution to these problems is dissolvable suport material. Dissolvable support material can be printed to create a support structure within your model, but can later be removed by placing the print in a solution that removes that material. Many materials have been tried for use with hobby printers but without great results… Until now!

I have been working with HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) plastic from Filaco, printing in combination with ABS. When printed as a tearaway support structure, HIPS can be easily torn from the ABS – leaving an even finish behind. The real power, though, comes from the ability to remove the HIPS support material by dissolving it away. HIPS is soluble in a chemical called Limonene. When a print is placed in a bath of Limonene, the HIPS portions are completely dissolved away – leaving behind just the ABS sections. This opens up the potential for moving parts and more complicated structures to be printed in one print instead of multiple.


I made my prints with a Makerbot Replicator 1 with two extruders. My process was simple.

  1. Both extruders set to 235C.
  2. Heated bed set to 115 (HIPS sticks really well at this temp and I did not have any curling issues).
  3. Wait for print to fully cool. HIPS stays very pliable until it’s cool and will bend when removing from your plate if not fully cooled.
  4. Place in a glass jar with enough limonene to cover for 24 hours, agitating as frequently as possible. Time may vary depending on the amount of material used, so monitor status every couple of hours.
  5. Remove your print and rinse in fresh water.

Your print will maintain a pungent smell of oranges – but hey, that’s not so bad, right?


New on Kickstarter is the 3Doodler, a 3D printing pen. This item is essentially a hand held extruder that allows users to draw their designs in 2D or 3D space. I think the novelty of this will appeal to many users but I think there are hidden benefits to the device also. The pen should also be able to be used as a welder to attach two prints together or to fix cracks that may have occurred in your prints. This option alone could be worth the early bird $75 entry price but I feel like there will also be lots of fun 3D doodles in our future.



Sailfish, the incredibly full featured alternative firmware for MakerBot printers has released a new version. Sailfish 4.2/7.1 was released on February 10th and includes some great new features.

  • Replicator 2 Support
  • SD Card Folders
  • Long File Names
  • Speed Control

These are just some of the highlights in this significant new release. If you own a MakerBot and you are not running sailfish, this is a perfect time to upgrade. If you have already jumped in the boat, then I’m sure this update will bring features you have been waiting for.

Sailfish Official Blog



Makerbot has finally implemented and launched an API for Thingiverse and with this a handful of apps that take advantage of it. The most significant thus far is Customizer. Customizer allows designers to easily be able to make designs using OpenScad and then allow others to personalize those items using simple menus without the need to edit the code. The first few days saw a flurry of custom iphone cases and rings that quickly clogged up the Thingiverse new items feed and forced Makerbot to reevaluate the way they display new items. This also showed the success and the possibilities of a system to allow anyone to be a designer. We will demo customizer and talk about how you too can get started with this new tool as well as demoing some of the other apps that are available with the API.

I am often asked about what types of materials can be printed on standard hobby 3d printers. As a bonus I am also preparing some demo prints to show off some of the new types of filament that are becoming available along side the classics.

This event is free and open to the public at AS220 Labs in Providence, RI. We will be kicking off around 7pm on Wednesday, February 13th.