Removing support material

Dissolving PVA support

PVA support structures can be removed by dissolving the PVA in water. This takes several hours and leaves no trace afterwards.

1. Submerge the print in water

By putting a print with PVA in water, the PVA will slowly dissolve. This process can be sped up by using:

  • Warm water. Warm water will decrease the dissolving time. When using PLA for the build material, ensure that the water is no hotter than 35 °C, otherwise the PLA may be adversely affected. Never use water above 50 °C, as this

    increases the risk of burning.

  • Stirring. Agitating the water by stirring or using running water will decrease the PVA dissolving time (in some cases to under three hours, depending on the amount of support material used).
  • Pliers. You can also speed up PVA dissolution by placing the print in water for approximately 10 minutes, then removing most of the support with pliers. When the print is placed back in the water, only the remaining parts of PVA will need to be dissolved. After the PVA supports are totally dissolved, rinse the print with water to remove any excess.

2. Rinse with water

After PVA supports are totally dissolved, rinse the print with water to remove any excess PVA.

3. Let the print dry

Let the print dry completely and apply additional post-processing to the build material if preferred.

4. Disposal of waste water

PVA is a biodegradable material, and in most cases disposing the water afterwards is easy. However, we recommend that you check local regulations for more concise guidance. The water can be disposed down the drain, providing the waste water distribution network is connected to a wastewater treatment plant. After disposal, run hot water from the tap for approximately 30 seconds to remove any excess saturated PVA water and to avoid longer-term clogging issues.

It is possible to use the water for more than one print, however, this might extend the dissolving time.Through repeated use, the water becomes saturated by previously dissolved PVA, so for the quickest result, fresh water is recommended.

Dissolving PVA 1
Dissolving PVA 2

Learn more about removing PVA support.

Removing Breakaway support

Prints using Ultimaker Breakaway as support material will require post-processing to remove the support structures. This can be achieved by breaking the support structures from the build material.

1. Tear the inner support structure

Start by removing the walls of the support structure with gripping pliers. This allows you to quickly tear away the majority of the inner support structure.

2. Pull the Breakaway support from the build material

After removing most of the support structure, the remaining part(s) can be pulled from the build material. Use cutting pliers to grab the Breakaway support in a corner and try to carefully get underneath it, then bend it upwards. Repeat this for several corners, so that you can loosen the support from the model around the corners. After this, pull the

Breakaway support from the model.

3. Peel the last traces from the model

Sometimes a final layer of the support material will remain after pulling the Breakaway support from the build material. If this happens, use cutting pliers to peel it off from a loose edge. Any leftover traces on the model can be removed with tweezers.

Removing Breakaway 1
Removing Breakaway 2

Learn more about removing Breakaway support.