Does Acetone also work for welding and smoothing PLA 3D printed parts?


Wha’s up every one, Tom here. And at this point it can be considered pretty
much common knowledge that you can smooth out the layer lines of 3D printed parts made
from ABS, HIPS and delikes with an acetone vapor bath. But I was told that this should also work
on some type of PLA like the ones from Dasfilament. I was intrigued because the common understanding
is that PLA shouldn’t be affected by acetone at all. But I mean I’ve got plenty of PLA printed
parts laying around so why not just try it out. So acetone is actually pretty cheap to get
hold of. This 1-liter bottle cost me just 2.99€ and
I use it liberally for things like cleaning paint stripping and anything that’s similar
to that. As a first step just to try and see if acetone
had any effect on PLA at all I decided just to dunk a piece in the acetone liquid and
after leaving it in there for a few seconds it started to get really sticky and gewy on
the surface and you could feel that layer coming off when you are rubbing it with your
fingers. Parts that are dunked in acetone like this
for an extended amount of time do get smoothed out but they do loose a lot of their stiffness
and I also think they loose a lot of strength so that not really recommended, but it got
me thinking before we even get in to the acetone vapor smoothing part I wanted to try out if
we could actually solvent weld two parts of PLA together. Essentially the way you do that with ABS or
PLA in this case is you take both sides brush some acetone on it let it dissolve just the
surface and the press those two parts together, it should get tacký and sticky right away
but it takes a few minutes or hours depending on how much acetone you put on there and how
big the surface is to reach its full final strength so I tried exactly that with two
clean surfaces of PLA pressed them together and while it was clear that they were immediately
sticking together I just set them aside for now. For the vapor smoothing i’m going to use the
tissues in the bucket method this is not a method I came up with I picked this up from
someone else and essentially what you do to get a very thick and consistent acetone vapor
is you take a few pieces of tissue paper use magnets to snap them to the inside of an old
paint bucket and then soak those tissues with acetone. If you want you can use some heat to speed
up the acetone evaporation but in general that is not really needed if you get the bottle
a good shake beforehand and turn it around a bit since what you dunk into the vapor bath
is going to have a dissolved and ideally a liquid surface to it you need some sort of
carrier to lift it out once your smoothing process is done I decided to just use this
angle bracket put the benchy on there dunked it in and pulled it out after about 30 seconds
or so, at that pont it was clear that the acetone was doing something the part felt
soft and squishy on the surface but there wasn’t any noticable smoothing going on
the one thing I did notce was that the surface was getting a bit dull but that was about
it so I gave the bucket a good heatup again refilled some acetone and set the timer to
five minutes put the benchy back into the bucket and waited it out after five minutes
it was obvious that the effect was a bit stronger that with the shorter test but other than
a softer and even less glossy surface there wasn’t really any smootging going on yet so
I decided to dunk this part in and just leave it for about an hour now while that is soaking
in let’s check back on the acetone welded PLA parts and see if we can seperate them
and by the feels of it these have really bonded well even hammering a screwdriver between
the two parts didn’t seperate them the screwdrived did deform the parts but they didn’t come
apart in this case I’d say these are very properley welded together there were no extra
adhesive used there was no super glue or epoxy or anything else involved there was just two
natural non sanded even PLA surfaces now let’s check back on the vapor smooth zoid buddah
this print has been in the acetone vapor for a good hour or more and still it dosen’t look
like the acetone vapor really did smooth anything out yes the part is slowley becoming softer
and more squichey but there is not a lot of melting and smooting going on so I guess if
you would really submerge you parts in actual liquid acetone and the smere it around with
your fingers that could work but acetone vapor smoothing for PLA is prittey much busted at
this point and just to cross check if the acetone bucket was even working at all I took
a part printed from regular ABS dunked that in there for twenty seconds pulled it out
and boom perfectley smooth I mean just look at that isn’t that an attracktive look for
the most part the trick was the vapor smooting ABS was not to leave the parts in there for
to long just let him soak but to give it quick dunkes in a highley consentrated acetone vapor
that way you only dissolve the surface and don’t get the entire part muchy but that in
detail is a topic for another video this video is sponsored by AlephObjects inc a free sofrware
libre innovasion and an open source hardware company headquarted in Loveland Colorado USA
and makers of Lulzbot 3D printers watch my review of both Lulzbot 3D printers here and
check the links in the video description for more info on these machines straight from
AlephObjects so okey while acetone dosen’t really do much for PLA when it comes to vapor
smoothing other than maybe making the surface a bit reflective it does work perfectley for
welding two PLA parts together witch I didn’t expect honestley so I hope you learned something
today aswell if you did leave this video a like subscribe and maybe even consider this
channel with a monthley pledge over on Patreon altso if you want to buy some acetone you
can acually do that on amazon the affiliate links that are in video description below
that’s it for today thanks for watching and I see you in the next one.

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