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

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 in this manner, 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.

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

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

HIPS Extruder Temperature

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

Cooling Equipment Requirements

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

Build Surface Type

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
  • PET Sheets

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.

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.