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Polymakr Update

PolyFlex: now also in black!

I know this is a long waited update, as many of you have inquired about the colors for PolyMax PLA and PolyFlex.  Our original plan was to offer only white for the KickStarter campaign, and develop more colors as we move on.  However as we are so moved by the overwhelming support we have received on KickStarter, we feel that we need to do something extra to further express our gratitude to all the backers.  Therefore we chose to add one more color for PolyFlex: black!  This has been the most wanted color for PolyFlex so far.  Our team has been working really hard to deliver this – check out the photos below!

So, those of you who have PolyFlex as part of the reward will have the option to choose either white or black (or a mix of white and black if you have multiple spools of PolyFlex in your reward), at no extra cost!

For PolyMax PLA, it will still be in white only for the KickStarter campaign – we really need to balance the workload and ensure timely delivery of all the rewards (our top priority right now).  However we will develop more colors in the future for sure!  If you are looking for some nice colored PLA filaments, check out the PolyPlus PLA from us which is available in 11 different colors (including 4 translucent ones):

What’s coming next?

If you read our project description carefully, you will notice that besides the 3 materials currently offered on the KickStarter, we are also developing a number of other new materials in our lab. So here is a sneak peek of one of them: PolySupport!

For desktop 3D printers, prints requiring support structures have always been a pain. Why? Because the current support materials have various kinds of problems and are far from ideal. Let’s take a look of them:

  • PLA/ABS (i.e. support material being the same as the building material): support structures are hard to remove (sometimes impossible) since the support material is not mechanically differentiated from the building material. Often leads to poor surface appearance and even part damage;
  • PVA: yes it is water soluble and you print your parts, throw it in water and the support structures magically disappear – we too wish it is that easy! The biggest issue with PVA (or any water-soluble support materials) is that it rapidly absorbs moisture in the atmosphere (up to 60% for PVA, which is huge) to the point that makes it not printable. In other words it is so difficult to preserve PVA for practical use. PVA also degrades rapidly so you can’t leave it in the nozzle for too long, otherwise it becomes a goo.
  • HIPS: the latest entry to the support materials. It dissolves in limonene while ABS does not. The main drawback is that you will need to use large amounts of limonene (which is an organic solvent after all), making it not quite user-friendly at homes or studios. Also, it only works with ABS, which is a problem as PLA is becoming increasingly more popular than ABS as the material of choice for desktop 3D printing.

In fact, when we talked to many makers in the past, the single most asked questions to us was “do you have a better support material?” We deeply felt the responsibility to solve this problem and therefore started working on this project to design a better and easy-to-use support material: PolySupport. Let’s take a quick look at what it can do (so far):

Hilbert cube (thing 16343 on Thingiverse), printed on a MakerBot Replicator 2X with PolyPlus PLA (black) and PolySupport
Hilbert cube (thing 16343 on Thingiverse), printed on a MakerBot Replicator 2X with PolyPlus PLA (black) and PolySupport

Yes – as you’ve guessed the white material shown in the photo was printed with PolySupport. It is a material that fully optimized for support that can be easily removed by hand by minimal tooling. It took me literally less than 3 minutes to remove the entire structure with just a pair of tweezers. You can see how clean the surface is, even we purposefully chose a contrasty color (black) for the building material. Below is a quick summary of the attributes of PolySupport:

  • Optimized to generate support that can be easily removed from the printed part by hand or minimal tooling (no need to soak in water or solvent);
  • Can be stored with no extra care needed – just like your regular PLA filaments;
  • Has good printability with almost no warping;
  • Adheres well to all common build surfaces with no heated build plate (HBP) required (but also works with HBP);
  • Fully compatible with PLA (should be compatible with ABS too but more testing needs to be done).

Below are more photos showing PolySupport in action! Below are more photos showing PolySupport in action!

As mentioned in our project description, those who pledge $60 or above will be given exclusive first access to any future materials that Polymakr develops in the next two years. And we mean what we said. These new materials will include PolySupport, which we are planning to release in the second half of this year.

Hope you like what we have done so far. We would love to hear your ideas and thoughts. Please leave us a comment if you can!

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