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Breakaway filament - Is it Hygroscopic?

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I am using the Ultimaker Breakaway filament and I live in a humid environment. I have humidity issues with nylon and PLA filament which I have solved by storing the filaments in a dry box, and by drying the filaments with a PrintDry heater. Due to physical issues on my part, I can't easily load and unload my UM3 with new filament. Hence I like to keep my Breakaway filament on the back of the UM3, loaded in feeder 2.

The Ultimaker advertising for Breakaway states that it is less moisture sensitive than PVA, the Ultimaker technical data sheet also states that Breakaway is a mixture of Polyurethane and PLA. Both PLA and polyurethane are somewhat hygroscopic.


My questions:

1. Is the Ultimaker Breakaway filament hydroscopic (absorbs water from the atmosphere)?

2. Can it be ruined by leaving it in a humid atmosphere?

3. Can it be safely dried by using a heater?

4. What is the suggested temperature to dry UM Breakaway?


I welcome all specific feedback. 


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Without trying to put undue financial burden on you, have you thought about the Polybox? I have found it is wonderful to keep my filaments dry while I print or print and do not use the hygrospcopic materials. Not everything uses supports.


It has greatly extended the life of my printable spools. I do not have to switch out and dry a spool and have a series of partially used spools of filament laying about.

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Thank you for the feedback. I considered the Polybox system prior to my purchase of an airtight storage box from Target and some $3.00 digital RH/Temp gauges from Ebay. I also purchased a PrintDry system. I keep some desiccant in the Target box along with the bulk of my filaments, and I monitor the RH/Temp with a digital gauge. I print my PVA and Nylon fed directly from my PrintDry system, I monitor the humidity there also. This keeps the water content of those two types filaments under control. I don't have any problems with my nylon and PVA using this system. The quality of my nylon prints improved dramatically using this system. I keep my Breakaway filament on the back of the UM.


My question related more to the technical specs of the Breakaway filament. This is an Ultimaker product so I would expect someone from Ultimaker might provide the information.


I live in a humid environment with warm temperatures. Many people don't understand the relationship between relative humidity (%RH), temperature, and the mass of water in the air at a given temperature. 86 deg F air, at 50%RH, contains almost double the mass of water compared to air 68 deg F at 50%. I believe this has a greater effect on the print quality than many realize, even beyond all the YouTube videos and product warnings that are out there. I have had Nylon start printing stringy after a day being left outside of my PrintDry. It was rectified after putting it back for 24 hours.


Sorry for making this comment so long, my real objective is just to get some scientific benchmarks around a new filament so that can all start understanding it more thoroughly.  




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I was not trying to answer your question, just offer an alternative. If you are printing from a filament system that is keeping dry as it spools, then that is all there is to that. As for the answer, because conditions vary so much as you mention, it may be an answer that still has a huge fudge factor precisely for the reasons you mentioned about temps and RH% and how it affects things.


And, as such, it can affect anything that is biodegradable. It may not be measured as truly hygroscopic, but it will still absorb moisture if it is biodegradable.

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I just bought my first roll of breakaway (i normally use polysupport, comparable material i think).

First findings are that it is a very very comparable material, which could mean, it is hygroscopical, just like polysupport.

I fully understand your findings, and the tempting "easy" placement on the back of the ultimaker.

My setup at this moment:

2 rolls in printing are always in my Polybox, which i adapted with some extra exit holes, so it is easier to route the filament out.

Opened rolls are kept in big plastic boxes (+-8 rolls per box), with 500grams of silicagel, and monitored with cheap aliexpress hygrometers.

Wet silicalgell is dried in a fooddryer for 12hrs. (with drying of a wet roll filament i never got good results, so the trick is to avoid contamination)

The silicagell is dryed when i get about 18% in my boxes. I live i a moderate climate situation, if i look at my interiour now, 21c, 45Rh%


Bottom line:

Dry filament is very important! But easy loading / unloading also. And for my believing breakaway is hygroscopic.



So my answers:


My questions:

1. Is the Ultimaker Breakaway filament hydroscopic (absorbs water from the atmosphere)? YES

2. Can it be ruined by leaving it in a humid atmosphere? YES

3. Can it be safely dried by using a heater? NOT FOR ME

4. What is the suggested temperature to dry UM Breakaway? ---



Happy printing!



Edited by RudydG

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Thank you for the feedback, I appreciate receiving information specific to using breakaway filament. I have been experimenting with breakaway and I have found that it works really well on support area locations that can easily be accessed and a larger piece can be pulled off in one chunk. But if there are any areas that are even slightly locked in due to an overhang or pocket in the subject, then the breakaway filament can be a real problem to remove. It comes off in tiny bits and can take a long time to clean up.


Back to the hygroscopic question. I had left the breakaway filament exposed on the back of my UM3 for a week now. The ambient temp in my house is 24C and the RH is 60%. I live in a tropical location and both the temp and RH can routinely go much higher. After being exposed for this long I was pleased  to find that the breakaway printed very well  without any signs of water absorption. I was printing last night using the breakaway as a support for some MatterHackers nylon pro and the parts we're printing perfectly (at least to my criteria). I keep the nylon permanently feeding from a PrintDry set at 50C and this seems to work well.


So far, I am reasonably happy with the performance of the breakaway filament, especially in humid conditions. I ended up destroying my part though, because I could not get the breakaway out from under an extreme overhang after using default Cura supports. I think custom supports will be really helpful with breakaway.

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