One of the latest developments on the materials front for 3D printing has come from Stratasys in the form of its soluble release for support materials for polycarbonate builds: SR-100. Until now, the WaterWorks soluble support material has only been available for the ABS materials for the FDM printing process, restricting the use of polycarbonate — a material with more durable mechanical properties.
Soluble support materials permit automated part removal from the supporting structure, eliminating hand tools and breakages, as well as a finer layer thickness (higher resolution) with the highly robust PC material. I am reliably informed that this is really good news for engineers on the ground in terms of improved application, turn around times and productivity — or as it was put to me, “this is what I needed, it makes FDM an easy choice”.
So, not a huge breakthrough per se — I’m sure, like me, you hear the comments about incremental developments not being very exciting, and I can empathise with that. But, at the end of the day, it is these incremental changes that will eventually lead to a sea change in the way that things are made. Stratasys has obviously been listening to client feedback, always a good thing, and I have no doubt there is a lot more to come from this company.