During a recent introduction to FreeCAD workshop that I teach at The Edge, I got asked an awesome question that actually had me a little stumped: “Is Polyvinyl Alcohol the same as what is in PVA glue?”

You see, I was giving a little bit of a run down on the different materials that can be used in Fused Deposition 3D printers (aka RepRap and Makerbot). I was telling everyone about the wonders of PVA or Polyvinyl Alcohol. A water soluble plastic that is awesome for printing support structures or scaffolding. When you are done, just throw it in a tub of water and your scaffolding dissolves away - just leaving you with your desired object.

Answer

So is the above Polyvinyl Alcohol the same as what you find in PVA glue? Nope! It turns out PVA glue is actually PVAc, or Polyvinyl Acetate. You can however turn PVA glue into the cool plastic above by dissolving it in Alcohol and treating it with sodium hydroxide. So, just when you thought PVA glue couldn’t be any more awesome and useful, you find out that it can be turned into an awesome material for 3D printers.