Dissolvable HIPS Filament: An Ultimate Guide [Explained & Compared]

April 20 2020

3D printer using HIPS filaments

HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) is a filament that’s frequently used as a support material. The reason it acts well as a support material is because it’s easily broken down by applying Limonene*.

* Limonene is an oil that’s extracted from the peels of citrus fruits such as oranges.

As a result the filament can be dissolved, allowing for a clean high-quality print as no scraping, pulling, cutting or other forms of  “aggressive” removal is required… essentially there is less chance of damaging your final print during the clean up process.

This does not limit HIPS performance as a conventional filament for printing models. It has similar properties to ABS, it’s easy to print with, has less chance of warping, it’s dimensionally more stable and slightly lighter, making it ideal for parts that end up getting worn out and/or require a weight advantage.

Furthermore, HIPS and ABS have similar strengths & stiffness and print at around the same temperature (approx. 230°C). As a result, these two filament types compliment each other well, particularly when using dual extruders.

HIPS support filament can easily be dissolved
Dual extruders can be used to print the actual model and supports needed to hold the model in place.

The ABS is used as the main plastic for creating the model and HIPS is used as a support mechanism which can be magically dissolved in next to no time.

Watch Jonas Kühling video to see this in action.

Quick Pros & Cons Of Using HIPS

Pros

  • Dissolves by Limonene
  • Lightweight
  • Cheap
  • Impact and water resistant

Cons

  • Heated bed needed
  • Requires high temperatures
  • Ventilation required

HIPS & PLA Compatibility

We’ve talked about how HIPS and ABS compliment each other due to their similar properties. However, where does PLA stand in this partnership?

The main here problem is printing temperature. PLA has a significantly lower printing temperature than HIPS, making the two materials incompatible during the same print process.

As a result polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) would be a better alternative as a support material as it and PLA have similar printing temperatures.

PVA can be dissolve in water.

Pros & Cons Of Using HIPS

Here’s a quick guide as to what makes using HIPS both a good material and bad material.

What Makes HIPS A Good Filament To Use

  • Strong & Durable.
  • Low Cost.
  • Decent Impactive Resistance.
  • Water Resistance (Non-hydroscopic).
  • Great Supportive Material (non aggressive removal capabilities).
  • Light Weight.
  • Easily Paintable.
  • Recyclable & Non Toxic.

What Makes HIPS A Bad Filament To Use

  • Requires Heating Bed (Prevent warping)
  • Requires High Printing Temperatures
  • Ventilation Recommended (Release of Styrene in the air)

Hardware Requirements

Although there are some similarities between HIPS and ABS, it’s still recommended to check your printer to ensure the best print quality.

As a results, I have created an easy to follow hardware printer requirement listed below.

Flat Bed Requirement For HIPS

Heated printer flat bed for HIPS filament

A heat bed is required to prevent any warping during the print (particularly for the first layer)
Bed Temp Range: 90-115 °C

HIPS Extruder Temperature

HIPS temperature range

The good news, no special hot-end is required when using HIPS filaments, however, the required temperature range is as below:
Temp Range: 220-240 °C

Cooling Equipment Requirements

3D printing cooling fan

Although HIPS might have less chance of warping compared to ABS, it’s still susceptible to warping. Therefore further cooling will assist in warping.
Cooling Fan: Not Required

Build Surface Type

Adhesion glue for HIPS printing

Although Again, to prevent warping and quality of print a good adhesion with the heated bed is both required and essential.
Adhesion Type: Glue Stick, Glass Plate, Kapton Tape

Ventilation, Fumes & Safety Requirements

Although HIPS is food safe, non-toxic, fully recyclable and non-hydroscopic, it does have a downside inasmuch as, just like ABS, it releases small amount of fumes.

Release of styrene in the air can be inhaled when you breathe and rapidly enter the body through your lungs. In large dosages it may impact the nervous system including the following symptoms, color vision changes, slow reaction time (like drunkenness), tiredness and problems with balance.

It is however important not to panic as when printing only small amounts of styrene is released in the air. Having said that, in time, with every print sessions, this amount accumulates.

Here’s an interesting public health statement on Styrene by ATSDR

*Hydroscopy: To have a tendency to absorb moisture.

Getting Started With HIPS Filaments

You now know a little more about HIPS filaments and its uses in 3D printing.

I have therefore added some recommendations of which manufactures you can use and why if it is a filament type you want to try out.

Zortrax HIPS Filaments

Zortrax HIPS Filament types

Zortrax are one of the big boys in the filament world and their Z-HIPS material is designed for models needing smooth finished surfaces for effortless post-processing.

One advantage is that the matt surface masks the added layers, making the finished product look clean and finished.

Z-HIPS 3D printing material is best for parts and models requiring smooth surfaces which can be effortlessly post-processed. Its semi-mat texture masks the layering to achieve a look of mass-produced items. The material’s hardness makes it perfect for mechanical prototyping and performance testing. Z-HIPS filament works great in designing consumer products and electronic casings.

Filament Applications:

  • Moving prototyping (high impact resistance)
  • For large flat surface models
  • Architecture mock-ups

Fillamentum HIPS Filaments

Gizmo Dorks HIPS Filaments

Frequently Asked Questions
✅ What is HIPS filament?

HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) is a filament that’s frequently used as a support material. The reason it also acts well as a support material is because it’s easily broken down by applying Limonene, an oil that’s extracted from the peels of citrus fruits such as oranges. This manner of dissolving allows for clean quality print as no scrapping, pulling, cutting or other forms of aggressive removal is required and as a results minimizes damage to your print.

✅ At what temperatures do I print HIPS filament?

There will be temperature variations depending on your printer and the type of HIPS filament you are using. However, the recommended extruder temperature range for HIPS is 220-240°C and 90-115°C for the bed temperature.

✅ What print speed should I use when printing with HIPS filament?

Once again, this will depend on your printer type and personal preference. However a good speed range for HIPS is between 30mm/s - 40mm/s.