Introduction: Smooth 3D Prints With Acetone

In this tutorial i will show you how i smooth my 3D print and also correct some imperfections during the print.

The first thing is to make sure is that this only work with ABS plastic and you want to use this method is not the best for every case, if you print have pointy parts depending of the time you expose it to acetone they will get more round, this is good for some cases but not for all, another thing is that the more time you put it the less detail and less visible the lines will be, in conclusion you will make the lines disappear, give a glossy finish and correct imperfection

Tools: Materials:

- Screw driver - Acetone, 10ml will be more than enough

- Pliers - Container Not from ABS

- Wire cutter - 12v computer fan

- Soldering iron (optional) - 12v or less power supply or 9v batterie

- Hot glue gun - Paper towels and aluminum foil

- Wire 1m

- Something to raise your print

- Plastic sheet larger than the opening of the container

Step 1: Find a Container

You will need a container, one that is notmade from ABS and this will carry for all the parts of the build if you are not sure, get a example of the material and put it in acetone over half hour if the example stays the same you are safe. I chose a glass container so i could see it better, this will fit your print with some clearance like in the pictures 5cm or 2" more or less, more will not harm only the proses may slow a bit, then something to stand your print i chose a little flower pot and cover it with aluminum foil so the print does not stick to it.

Step 2: Find a Lid

I find a sheet of plastic that bends when heat is applied to it, I place over my container and with a heat gun bend it to make a doom this is not a must and if i had to do it again i will not do this i will just cut it to shape a put it on top with some weigh on top to seal, it doesn't have to be a perfect seal.

Punch holes throw the plastic, worm up a screw driver and it will go trow the plastic like butter. There are five holes four of them are equal space to the four in the computer fan this one will hang from the lid and the fifth one is for the fan wires.

Step 3: Set Up the Fan

To hole the up the fan get some wire and tied up like in the first picture, pliers may be helpful, they don't have to be perfectly tied just so you can lift the fan from the wire, repeat this for the rest of the holes in the fan, now put the lid on with the fan wires through the holes on the lid, bend the wires to a selected height this must have some space with the lid for the air to flow and some space from the pice, because if they get in contact it will ruin the print, once you select an appropriate hight and you bend the wires put a drop of hot glue or any glue to shield the hole so the acetone vapor don't escape. the next step is to give power to the fan i just connect the fan wires to a 12V power supply, if you prefer to make it portable a 9v battery, in addition you can add switch or a variable resistor to regulate the airflow, I will not be the most elegant solution but it will work.

Step 4: Get Ready to Smooth

From this point the construction is ready now is the process that you will have to do every time you use it.

Find some painters tape and make 4 little circles like the one on the first picture the stick side must be out, place around the middle of the container follow by the paper towel around the glass and make sure the paper towel is touching the bottom, also you have a spot to see and the towel never touch the 3D print.

in the top paper excess cut every inch and a half o every 4 cm then fold it back and secure to the glass with the tape.

This will later be soaked with acetone so there is more surface for the acetone to evaporate and better distribuid around the container.

Step 5: Here Comes the Acetone

This is the dangerous part of the process, form now on place the container in a well ventilated area if you can do it outside, this is due to the same acetone vapors that dissolve the ABS are harmful for you, and even we try to make it seal there is always a leak and later you will have to open it.

Start by putting acetone in a little container like in the pictures follow by dropping a bit all around the top of the towel and a bit more in the bottom this is so there is always some acetone to evaporate and for the towels to soaked it, but don't put too much since this will have to be evaporate before removing the pice just a millimeter or two will do the job.

Step 6: Place the Pice

At this point the acetone will be evaporating so do this as fast as posible.

Place the support of your part in the middle follow by the print and do this carefully since any contact now or during the main process may leave imperfections put the lead back on and doble check your print is equal space to the walls.

Step 7: Start Smoothing

Turn the fan on and check every 5 minutes how your print is doing in my case it take 35 minutes to the point i like it but for other parts may take longer or shorter and depends on the size and the finish you want, if your part have a lot of detail 10 or 20 minutes but checking every 5 minutes so you can see the process, remember you can repeat this process as many times you want but you can't go back in time at lest i can't.

Once the part locks like you want or a bit earlier open the lid like the 8th picture with the fan still on an let all the acetone evaporate and then a half our later check if the part is stick, it shouldn't be.

Now your part is ready just wash it and if you don't like the glossiness you can use a fine grid sandpaper like 200 grid and the finish will be mat.

Step 8: Conclusion

This project is an easy DIY that you can make and do your first part in one day, giving the 3D print a smooth surface as well as correcting the imperfection that happen during the printing process the only down side is that acetone is not safe is very flammable and it irritate your lungs but with the right precaution (ventilated area and gas mask) this is not a problem.

For the mug (3D print in the pictures) i leave here the .stl file for you to print and let me know if you want to see a tutorial of how i made it in 360fusion.

If you are curious about the lighting in the last picture is an LED light i did, is a 31 strip RGB and fully custom sooner i will upload a project of how i did it.

Thanks for checking my project and hope this was helpful.

3D Printing Contest 2016

Participated in the
3D Printing Contest 2016