Any tips on nondestructive 'support Materials'?

As my experimenting gets more complex, the need for material supports has become a thing. Was wondering if any people had advice either in preparation of the model, or wether size of the object can make supports easier? Does the fast, standard or High in the Zim settings effect the way the support material is printed? Or are support materials always a pain to remove?

You could try using PVA which is water soluble but I have yet to get it to work. I’ve printed a few things with support on high quality based custom setting using a separate color for the support just to make it easier to see what to remove.

1 Like

PVA? is this material available from Zeepro?

You could get the PVA as one of the Kickstarter options. I don’t see it on Zeepro’s website at the moment but you can buy it in the ZIM cartridge by Zeepro from Newegg.

If you get this I will warn you that I have yet to get it to stick to the PLA and it just sticks to the printer head so while its a nice idea I haven’t gotten it to work yet. Although I have only spend 5 or 6 hours fighting with it and I’m by no means a 3D printer expert. If you get it working let me know.

I printed several parts with Zeepro and PVA - works well so far.
Here my settings:
3mm retract
15mm/s speed
NO fan/cooling!

But I have to say that the material is so soft that its fine for support but never ever to build a model out of it. :blush:

we’re all newbs :slight_smile: i read this article that describes best practices for creating models that need less support. It actually helped a lot in my latest print, but my print was destroyed by the second extruder head knocking the model free from the platform

Thanks, how are you sticking your first layer to the glass? Are you using glue or blue tape or something else?

the funky purple glue stick i got with the Zim. there is a bit of timing involved, print to early and the glue is to wet to stick, print to late and the glue is too dry to stick.

I simply add blue tape onto the printbed and also added blue tape on the area where the z endstop is triggered - so there was no need to align the bed as the bluetape is about 0,1mm thick.

Before printing make sure to press the bluetape onto the bed especially at the boarders of the tape.
I print at layer hights of 0,15mm but in reality my first layer is slightly lower so the filament is pushed against the blue tape.

I also own a RepRap and bluetape works so well that I hardly can remove my parts from the printbed on both my FDM printers (RepRap and ZIM) - sometimes it’s a nighmare to get the parts off the printbed :confused:

If you do get problems to let the PVA stick on your bed (as described PLA works too well) I usually add a 0,3 (2 layers of 0,15mm) plate and let the PVA support print onto this “printhelper”. Later you can easily remove this printhelper with a knife!

Do you have a good set of overall custom reccomended settings the issue I keep having is the slicer will create a very thing verticle support material and after a few layers that one slim vertical support will start to bend and eventually wont be able to support the top layers, then the printer begins to print on air at that point when the support collapses into a spiderweb. Ive tried modifying the settings but I pain in the butt to change something and test it a realize it just fails again. I dont mind having to overkill on the support if means it wil come out correctly expecially since the Zim doesnt give you a slicer preview so its just guess and check.

Would be greta if the software could give a preview of how it plans to add supports so we can decide ‘thats not gonna work’

I stopped working with the ZIM software completely: there are so much limitations I don’t want to deal with.

Usually I print my supports with PVA, 190°C, 0,15mm layers, 20mm/s maximum print speed, no cooling and 1,5mm inflate.

Inflate means that I print far too much support on each side of the supported area (1,5mm) but it works pretty well for me.

Martin : “I stopped working with the ZIM software completely”… how ? I’m interested, I’m not an 3d printer expert but I don’t like Zim software. Zim web page is a lot a time down for me.

Loki : there is a gcode preview with 1.4, I didn’t try it yet.

Are you connecting directly to the Zim using the USB port on the Zims stepper motor control board, after first disconnecting the Cubieboard from the stepper motor controller?


  • remove the black 3d printed plug the Zeepro guys pushed into the USB port in the back of the printer (took me over an hour!)
  • connect va RepetierHost (250.000 baud)
  • (you may install some free serial to USB software to be able to connect)
  • operate your ZIM without RFID limitation, filament limitation and this bloody software!

You don’t have this easy interface anymore as I disconnected the left electronic board inside the ZIM bottom but you’re free to use ANY slicing software and ANY filament you want!

1 Like

I had to tear my zim apart to fix backlash on my y axis that was making circular objects oval shaped. I ended up slightly re-routing the drive belt. Zee pro is actually testing my modification on their end and I would not be surprised if they revise the Y axis servo motor holder. Anyway, I picked the plug out as well, but didn’t like the result from having the superglue in the jack so I ended up unsoldering it and replacing it with a new jack. I thought about disconnecting the cubie at this time but thought “one thing at a time” so I think this will be the next mod.

Thanks for the advice,


where is this “inflate” option in the Zim software?

I asked Emily with Zeepro about using PVA filament since it was mentioned in one of the comments in the backer space on kickstarter and got some good tips for printing with PVA so figured I would post her advice here.

"Printing with PVA provides the opportunity to create great parts which are impossible to make otherwise.

Having said that, it requires some care as it is a tricky material to print with and is only recommended for advanced user.

There are a few rules to follow:

  1. extrusion temperature should be around 180C
  2. very very low speed is mandatory around 10mm/sec is probably a maximum
    3.PVA needs to be extruded almost continuously as it degrades rapidly if left in the nozzle at temperature. A skirt in PVA is the best solution as it allows for enough PVA to be extruded at each layer (specific presets need to be created). When degraded, the PVA will become powdery and will block the nozzle, requiring a change of nozzle.
  3. Our cartridge are mostly airtight. However, PVA filament when kept on a shelf will degrade rapidly, this degradation /dissolving being irreversible.

When refilling PVA in a refillable cartidge, the user should always rewrite his cartridge using the procedure in our FAQs to specify the extrusion temperature. We also recommend to dry the PVA filament before spooling it.

The major malfunction risks are :

  • filament not loading as too soft to be pushed up to the printing head
  • having “soft spaghetti” type filament bunching up in the printing head requiring full head disassembly (explanation on how to do it in the FAQs)
  • degraded/powdery filament blocked in the nozzle needing a nozzle change."

Wow, PVA sounds very non-consumer friendly. I wouldn’t mind trying it… but not the kind of thing I’d want to print with everyday.

hey, I got it figured it out after reinstalling the usb drivers. Thanks!

Hey King Martin, could you elaborate a little more about using RepeiterHost? I tried it today but couldn’t establish a usb connection. You mentioned to install free serial to usb software, are you talking about these drivers from FTDI?