HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) stands for high impact polystyrene. HIPS is a synthetic copolymer that is strong, durable, non-toxic and recyclable. In addition, HIPS is soluble in Limonene, an easily obtainable solvent that is derived from the skin of lemons.
Chemically, HIPS is a graft copolymer incorporating pure polystyrene and polybutadiene rubber. It combines the hardness of polystyrene with the elasticity of rubber to produce a high impact thermoplastic that is tough and strong without being brittle.
HIPS and ABS
In 3D printing, HIPS makes an excellent soluble support material. It is usually used for 3D print in a combination with ABS filament. HIPS is ideal for printing in combination with ABS because it has a similar strength and stiffness profile to ABS which means they complement each other well. It also helps that HIPS and ABS need to be printed around the same temperature.
HIPS can be used to provide the necessary support that these overhanging areas require. The printer first lays down HIPS under where the overhang will be and then lays the selected printing material down on top of the layer of HIPS. The HIPS supports the overhanging material and prevents the warping, deformation and collapse that would occur without the support.
Once the printing is complete and the object has cooled, you remove the HIPS by submerging the object in Limonene. After 24 hours, the Limonene will have dissolved the HIPS leaving you with a print job that has clean, crisp angles, corners and overhangs. No need for knives, scraping or sanding. The solvent does all the work leaving you with beautiful results.
HIPS on its own
HIPS also makes an excellent 3D printing material on its own. When comparing HIPS vs ABS, you’ll notice it’s harder and stronger than either PLA or ABS, but is just as easy to use. It won’t warp as easily as ABS.
HIPS 3D printer filament can be glued using any one of a number of specialty adhesives. It also handles sanding well and can be painted with ease. This makes HIPS 3D Printing an excellent choice for mockups and prototypes.