I know that some of you jumped right on the opportunity to try out the new Infinity Supports. And, you are right to be excited about it. Words escape me as I try to wrap all the positive feelings I have about this new product.
But, to get the most out of the new supports there are some things you should know and some things you might want to pick up locally to help you clean up the supports.
The supports are water soluble. And, presumably safe for our plumbing systems. But, I'd rather be safe than sorry. Even though most of the material completely dissolves in water, I have noticed clumps can remain. And, when these clumps dry they solidify. So, I have taken to dissolve the materials in a bucket and stir the water until I see no more solids. Only then do I send it down the drain.
Moreover, I just purchased two items I want to test from Harbor Freight. One is a parts washer that is essentially a bucket that circulates water and the other is a tool that shakes parts more aggressively than does my ultrasonic bath. It's usually used to polish items; but, I plan to modify it to agitate water to see how it might work on supports.
working with Infinity Supports is a bit like being a dental technician. And, the tools that are most helpful are very common in the dentist's office. They can be purchased locally in hardware and hobby stores.
|Tools Helpful with Infinity Supports|
I'm fortunate that my daughter is a sculptor that works in clay who has purchased a ton of tools over the years. One of the most helpful tools I've stolen from her is #4. It's a curved spade tool that allows me to dig into the supports and pull them away from the PLA. The picks, #5, are next most useful tools in that they can get into tiny crevices to clean out th little bits that might remain after the bulk of the supports have dissolved.
Of course, having a long tip pair of tweezers is also helpful.
The more of these tools you keep handy, the faster the job of removing the support material will be.
Your strategy for removing supports is dependent on how long you want to let the supports soak or sit under running water. In some cases, it's faster to just get the supports slightly wet and simply grab portions of the support with the spade tool or the tweezers. In this case, having paper towels ready helps to remove support material from the tools and dispose of the solids. As I mentioned earlier, as the solids dry, they return to a hardened state.
I might also add that if you light the speed clean method, I'd drag a trashcan close for the same reason. Wipe the tool with the paper towel and dispose of the solids in the trashcan. But, remember, if you can be patient, 90% or more of the supports will dissolve on their own simply sitting in the bucket of water,
TWEEZERS DURING PRINTING
The best comparison I can come up with when describing the supports is cheese puffs.
The supports are laid down a bit like french pastry, with lots of air in the layers.
At this point in the evolution of the software and firmware, sometimes the supports can crumble and some bits and pieces might fall off the print table on into the printer.
A pair of long tweezers is helpful to grab these errant bits out of the printer.
I suspect this is a temporary situation as the developers and users learn more about the support characteristics. But, it is something for which I think you need to be watching.
ORIENT FOR STRENGTH
As most of you know, I HATED to old support system with a passion. But, this meant that sometimes things had to be oriented in ways that made critical features weaker. For instance, I might print a bolt standing on it's head leaving the shaft of the bolt weak as the layers were 90% to the shaft.
Not any more.
I can now orient a bolt sideways with the longitudinal layers adding to the strength to the shaft of the bolt.
Think about what that means to making our parts more useful in real world situations as we have the freedom to orient for maximum strength rather than for avoiding the need for supports.
THINK THE IMPOSSIBLE
Try printing the following part without supports.
|Orientation of the printed parts|
It's impossible. And, with the old style supports it would have been a nightmare to clean. But, it prints beautifully with the new Infinity Support system. And, yes. That is EXACTLY as it was printed on the print table, with the bulk of the base ABOVE the print table.
CONSIDER A SCANNER
The new Infinity Supports mean we do not have to perform gymnastics to print the items we scan with our Sense and iSense scanners. This means we can print human shapes just as we scanned them! I haven't had time to revisit some of my old scans for new print opportunities as yet; but. I certainly will.
ENSURE YOUR PRINT JETS ARE EVEN
Infinity supports require two print jets concurrently. This means we must do our best to ensure that our print jets are evenly leveled relative to the print table. Those with early machines will be mostly affected by this requirement. While we have previously written about techniques to perfectly align the print jets, we will address the topic again should the need arise. The part pictured above was created to hold a dial or digital indicator to test print jet alignment and it works beautifully.
I hope that all of you that have ordered the new support material will let others know of your experience through the comments on this blog. And, I trust that you will be every bitas excited and happy as I have been.