All About HIPS Filament

At Gizmo Dorks, we live for 3D printing. We love nothing more than geeking out over filaments, extruder heads, and the endless possibilities that 3D printing affords. For this blog, we want to detail something that can change how you look at 3D printing. On the surface, it's just another filament, but after closer inspection you'll see that this filament opens up a whole host of potential for 3D printing. We're talking, of course, about High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) filament.

Just Like Magic

hips filament

HIPS filament is actually pretty similar to ABS, which is another common 3D printing material. It's strong and durable just like ABS, and it will work with a wide variety of projects. It's cheap, effective, and a great material to have in your toolkit.

That said, there's one crucial difference between HIPS and ABS - they dissolve in different solvents. Acetone is used to dissolve ABS, whereas HIPS dissolves in D-limonene. This is the critical detail that makes HIPS such an incredible material for 3D printing. But just what's so special about it?

A significant portion of 3D printers on the market today, including Makerbot or any RepRap based printer, use a printing method called Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). FDM is the process of printing plastic in consecutive, stacked layers. It's ingenious for how simple and effective it is, but it's exceedingly difficult to print any kind of overhang or bridge type structure with FDM - without layers of plastic underneath, there's nothing to hold the structure up. Usually, people will simply print supports that can then be torn off. But with HIPS, that's not necessary.

By printing the actual object with ABS and support structures with HIPS, you can bathe your finished product in D-limonene and the ABS will stay solid as a rock. But - just like magic - the HIPS will simply melt away. If you have a dual-extruder printer, the possibilities are just about endless.

Your 3D Printing Experts

Feeling inspired? Head on over to our store to pick up some of your own  HIPS and ABS filaments and get printing! We can't wait to see what you make. If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out to us at our contact page, and don't forget to check back to this blog periodically for more useful tips and info on 3D printing.