How to optimize the usage of water-soluble materials to build supports

Thanks to the Dual print mode is possible to print with soluble support materials, but it increases the printing time and the cost of the print job. In this article, you will find some tips to save some time and the material used






Why is necessary to optimize the usage of water-soluble materials?


BCN3D has two awesome water-soluble materials that allow us to create complex geometries, while not worrying about breaking the part we want to print during the support extraction or poor overhang quality. 

However, printing the supports with soluble materials increases the printing time, and the cost of the print job so could be necessary to optimize the support material.

This optimization consists in enabling the Support interface to reduce the amount of soluble material used, the number of tool changes, and in consequence the print time.

Feel free to visit the articles related to the water-soluble material in the BCN3D portfolio.

How to set up the PVA or BVOH Support Interface

The support interface is a BCN3D Stratos setting that creates a denser pattern on the top and bottom of the supports to improve the surface quality of the parts that are in contact with the supports. 

In BCN3D Stratos, you can set this top and bottom part to be printed by another extruder. This means we can print only the interface in PVA or BVOH, while leaving the rest to be printed with the main filament. To do so, follow these steps:

1. In BCN3D Stratos, go to Custom settings

customs settings interface on BCN3D Stratos

2. Open the Support tab and click Generate Support

support settings menu interface on BCN3D Stratos

If you don't find the support interface settings, like in the picture above, you should configure your setting visibility:

  •  Go to Settings/Configure setting visibility

Settings menu on BCN3D Stratos to configure the visibility of the settings 

  • Click the "Check All" box

settings visibility menu stratos check all

3. With the setting visibility properly configured, go back to the support tab and locate the Support Interface Extruder setting

expanded support settings menu

4. Set up the extruder with PVA or BVOH as the support interface extruder

configurate support interface with water soluble material BVOH PVA

PVA Support Interface vs Traditional PVA Supports

This section will show a practical application of the Support Interface and its comparison with the standard PVA supports. Make sure to check this article to learn a bit more about this subject: The best way to optimize the use of PVA for 3D printing


For this comparison, we will use a tilted, regular 3DBenchy. This is a complex support structure and therefore makes up a quite complex print. 

For the comparison, we will set up both the traditional PVA supports and the PVA support interface. We will also evaluate the printing time, as well as the amount of material used.

Traditional Supports PVA interface supports
traditional-supports support-interface

As observed above, the printing time is cut by more than 4 hours. The amount of PVA is also reduced, this will need to be dissolved. The size of the benchy is the same. 


  • Enabling the support interface saves material and time.
  • Reducing the support material usage helps to avoid common problems related to water-soluble materials like clogs.
  • This solution allows getting an amazing surface finish thanks to the soluble material but uses less material in the whole structure.
  • If you want an even lower print time, you can disable the prime tower.
  • Remember that disabling the prime tower can lower the quality of the part you want to print. 
  • After using water-soluble materials, store them in an airtight container or the BCN3D Smart Cabinet to keep them dry and ready to be used in another print.

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