How to print with Ultimaker PVA

Ultimaker PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) is a 3D printing material commonly used to create water-soluble support structures to achieve complex geometries.

Note: The information provided here applies to Ultimaker PVA, similar quality cannot be guaranteed with third-party filaments.

Compatibility

PVA is specifically developed for dual-extrusion prints, which means that it is supported on both the Ultimaker S5 and Ultimaker 3. On these printers you should print PVA with a BB print core.

Ultimaker PVA nozzle compatibility table

Note: Since Ultimaker PVA is used as a support material for dual-extrusion prints, it is not supported on single-extrusion printers

We have extensively tested preconfigured Ultimaker Cura profiles for optimal results when printing PVA support structures in combination with a build material on the Ultimaker S5 and Ultimaker 3. Below is an overview of the compatibility of PVA with other Ultimaker build materials.

Ultimaker PVA material compatibility table

1 Only possible for small prints. Larger prints may show warping in the build material
2 Dual combinations with TPU 95A may result in stringing and blobs on the surface of the print

The use of Ultimaker PVA in combination with PC and PP is not supported, due to insufficient adhesion between PVA and these materials, which will most likely result in print failure.

Recommended settings and configuration

Note: Always use the latest version of Ultimaker Cura and make sure that your 3D printer is updated with the latest firmware version to include the correct material profile for Ultimaker PVA.

Temperatures

Ultimaker PVA prints at a temperature of 215-225 °C, and a build plate temperature of 60 °C is required when printed as a single material. If PVA is printed as a support material, simply use the build plate temperature required for the accompanying build material.

Note:  The correct temperatures are automatically used based on the printer, nozzle size, and profile you select in Ultimaker Cura.

Adhesion

Ultimaker PVA adheres well to the heated glass plate. However, the adhesion method may differ based on the accompanying build material.

We suggest applying a thin layer of glue (included in the accessory box of your Ultimaker) to the glass plate for PVA. For dual-extrusion prints, the adhesion method should be based on the accompanying build material.

Glue application build plate adhesion method

When printing PVA as a single material, the default adhesion type is a brim. A brim is made of extra lines printed around the perimeter of the first few layers of your model to ensure successful adhesion to the build plate.

When printing PVA in combination with another material, we recommend using the adhesion method for the accompanying material. For the best adhesion and print quality, we recommend setting the ‘build plate adhesion type’  to Extruder 2 (PVA) in Ultimaker Cura.

After printing, let the build plate cool down and remove the print from the build plate. Next, the PVA can be dissolved according to the instructions on this page.

Print environment

Additional accessories are not required to create a stable printing environment for PVA. However, based on the accompanying build material, it may be necessary to use the front enclosure included the Advanced 3D Printing Kit, if you are printing on the Ultimaker 3.

Furthermore, it is very important to handle PVA correctly when in use. Once opened, PVA filament will absorb moisture from the ambient environment. To minimize this, print in a room with an ambient temperature of below 28 °C and a relative humidity below 50%. Immediately after printing, always store the spool in a resealable bag with the supplied desiccant. When the material is not in use, we recommend storing it under the conditions described in our material storage guide.

Health and safety

Ultimaker PVA is safe to print when using the recommended temperatures listed in the table above. To ensure a comfortable and healthy working environment, we recommend 3D printing in a well-ventilated area.

For more information, download the safety data sheet for Ultimaker PVA here.

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