May 26, 2016
Acetone is a powerful solvent that quickly dissolves ABS. However, the ABS reconstitutes itself once the acetone has evaporated. This phenomenon is used for welding ABS drain pipes (ABS glue is contains acetone). It also allows us to use 'ABS juice' to apply a thin film of ABS to the print bed to help with adhesion.
3D printed fan duct - using ABS before (left) and after acetone vapor polishing (right)
Acetone vapor smoothing uses gaseous acetone to dissolve the surface of a print. This 'acetone bath' blends the 3D printing layer lines together and results in a smooth shiny finish. Since acetone evaporates quickly even at room temperature, this process can be done slowly without any heating. However, to accelerate it we are going to use a hot plate to boil the acetone. This way the process will only take 15 minutes.
A note on Safety
Be sure to perform this task in a well ventilated area, even outside is a good choice. Be conscious of the chemicals you are using and read the MSDS and precautions from the manufacturer before beginning. Always be prepared with safety equipment, in this case gloves, respirator, eye protection are advised. Be sure to have eye washing station prepared and a fire extinguisher ready.
Safety Gear: gloves, eye protection, respirator, fire extinguisher (not pictured)
And that is all there is to it! Good luck, be safe, and happy printing!
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