Return to site

PLA and Acetone (not acetate) TEST

As it turns out it is rather difficult to find acetate in the local hardware stores, so we bought some Acetone instead and gave it a try.

Following this guys demonstration on Ultimakers site, we forged ahead.  the link 

As you can see it is possible - depending on your PLA -that is to say what kind of blend it is.

With all of this in mind we decided to go with the spray method. This turned out not to be the best method, on our next tests, we will go ahead with the dip method as suggested in the video...the only thing with doing it this way is you need to have a lot of acetone, which we did not have access to. But spraying it down did not give an even surface....Thus I would not recommend this technique (spray method) .

Safety first!

The star of the show

Various bits a pieces to test with

gotta wear gloves...both nitric and latex gloves seem to do fine (interesting to note that it will still feel like the acetone is getting through, I think this is just the acetone vaping off the glove (low flashpoint) and thus makes your hand feel cold and wet)

we were working in the spray booth, but these were good to use as well

so, we decided to use a spray method...thus the spray bottle.  bought at the dollar store...should have gone with a better quality sprayer.

Spray booth

Test piece before spray

Test piece after sanding and then you can see not much difference

We decided to grab some ABS to test out out...this is before spraying

This is after you can see there is definitely a difference...however the difference really only seems to be in how shiny it appears.  I think that if we were to print at a higher resolution then smoothing might have been better.

Another example of smoothing after spray on ABS part

SO, in conclusion, we did not have very good success with PLA smoothing, this could have been because PLA does not react to acetone, and only reacts to PLA blends or ABS, or because we tried the spray method.

We will have to try the dip method to come to a better conclusion.

However, it seems that upon further investigation, ultimaker user cloakfiend has had rather good success with PLA from Ultimaker (UM)  -'s all part of the learning.

This is from the plot post done by Ultimaker user Cloakfiend:

from :

What i know......

Warm red and also black from colorfabb smooth, but need longer time than UM brand which i find the best since it does not crack, ever. Usually a 40 second dip is fine for colorfabb and a 25 second dip for UM brand.
Added info...
1. its smooths well but you need thicker walls or else the lines on the side of the model will be more visible due to the thin walls shaking during printing. I had nice results at 50mm/s 0.06 so even for bigger models, print times were never over 20hrs on most if not aal of my models.
2. A bit of sanding at the start is required to seek perfection, otherwise it will be just good, but you will see faint print lines. Again slightly thicker paint will easily cover this.
3. Warping WILL HAPPEN on large flat surface, or probably any flat surfaces so unless you can prize it down, or put books on it remember that.
4. A problem ive had recently was that because it absorbs the acetone, it becomes heavier and more flexible (temporarily only btw) and if gravity plays a part some bits may droop and warp. But generally its ok. Im still experimenting. Maybe this doesnt happen with UM brand PLA which ive run out of. You can use this to your advantage by making joints tight and then putting them in place when they are soaked which you normally wouuldnt be able to do because they would snap.
5. The main advantage is less work and less sanding and less filler. You can literally take something off your print bed, wipe off all the tiny blobs or leftover bits, and then dunk it and youre done. The vapour method looks like the shiny abs as i though it would but rather than completely melt it, it just melts the impurities in the gaps so you get a nice shiny model.
6. Acetone vapour will give you a shiny model and acetone bath will make it matt, both will be smooth.

It not perfect, but it smooths everywhere unlike the ABS acetone vapour method, and produces far better results in my opinion, with almost zero risk of ruining your model, again unlike the acetone method.

Have fun, my work here is done, lol. After i finish that damn alien.

And btw soaking it all year wont get you better esults than the first minute as all the impurities will melt away and you will be left with pure pla remnants which wont smooth. So dont bother with double dips and all that like in my first video one dip for the shortest amount of time you can get away with is all you need. My times are just guides i dont write stuff down normally.

And finally. When soaking the pla the final results will not be immidiately visible, give it time to cure. (Like wait for the melted top coat to harden) and it kinda goes milky coloured compared to what it started out as. You can see this in the video on the first page.

Happy printing and acetoning! You'll be amazed at how useful acetone is for other stuff as well, lol. Be safe though its still a chemical and dont over expose yourself to it. It wont kill you but you will get white fingers hypersensitivity, headaches, nausia, stomach aches and general unwell feelings if you abuse it. But on the plus side this usually subsides in a day, lol. (Maybe not with the hypersensitivity)

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly