Creating a Gloss Finish for your 3D Prints Part 2 – Acetone Vapours

It’s a great feeling when your models finish printing, you have your final piece in hand and it’s perfect! You wouldn’t necessarily think that exposing it to the eroding vapours of Acetone would be a good idea……but you’d be wrong! The resulting finish this method produces is fantastic and gives new life to your 3D prints.

Here’s a run down of the things you’ll need;

  • Your 3D print – This method work’s best with ABS filaments.
  • Gloves – When ever handling any irritant or chemical always wear gloves!
  • A reasonably large POLYPROPYLENE container – Why the caps and bold lettering I hear you ask. Acetone is corrosive to most regular plastic’s so using Polypropylene will ensure you don’t end up with a pile of melted goo!
  • Regular Kitchen Towel – This we will use to absorb the acetone and place along the wall’s of our container.
  • Kitchen Foil – This is purely to stop the acetone touching your prints.
  • Good quality Acetone – Please take care when handling Acetone, the fumes are very strong and it can cause irritation to exposed skin so glove up!
  • A well ventilated area!!! – If possible try and do this outside as the fumes are very strong.

Quick how to;

  1. Fold 3 sheets of kitchen towel into smaller squares
  2. Soak the kitchen towel in the acetone and unfold
  3. Place sheets on three sides of your container hanging from the top.
  4. Lay kitchen foil on the bottom of the container
  5. Add 3D prints on top of foil
  6. Securely seal the lid
  7. Check on prints every 30 minutes

Below we can see the original on the left and the acetone treated print on the right. It was 3D printed on the Zortrax M200 using Cool Grey Z-ABS filament.

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Below is our very own Dreamo Keyring treated with acetone.

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The difference is astounding, although the original print was fantastic as it was the treated version looks unrecognisable as a 3D print and looks more like something that has been projection moulded. The surface is completely smooth to the point where you can’t feel any ridges from the layers that were put down by the printer. Also the material has transformed from being matt finish to highly reflective and glossy. The acetone method is so easy to achieve but does require you to check your models frequently. Times will vary depending on the size of your container, size of the prints and the amount of acetone you have used.

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