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As the name implies, water-soluble filaments produce prints that dissolve when soaked or submerged in water. If you have never used them before, you might ask – what will a print that degrades so easily be good for? Water-soluble filaments are primarily used to create support structures. You may be eyeing a design that has several overhanging features or have parts that are more complex than usual. If you do not want your print to fall apart before you are even done printing, then it would be a good idea to incorporate support structures into your design.
The most common compound used for water-soluble filaments is polyvinyl alcohol, or PVA. Being a polar compound, PVA completely dissolves in water, although the process may take a couple of hours. It is non-toxic and biodegradable, making it the material of choice for many industrial applications, such as textile glazing, paper coating, and contact lens solutions.
The best part about using PVA is that it breaks down into harmless and non-toxic alcohols after it dissolves in water. This means that you can safely dispose of the dissolved solution down your drain after using, although we still recommend flushing it down with liberal amounts of water to remove the alcohol-saturated solution from your drain pipes.
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