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Prof. Meiser,

I came across this on a micro-controller hobbyist site that that shows you how to make 3D printed parts smoother and glossier than just coming off the printer. It involves placing a small amount of acetone in a jar with the model suspended inside and heating the acetone up into vapor.  The Acetone then gives the part a smooth finish. Both links are the same process only from different people. This only works on ABS.


No matter how good a 3D printer gets, you’re always going to have visible print layers. Even with very high-quality prints with sub-0.1mm layer height, getting a shiny and smooth finish of injection molded plastic is nearly impossible. That is, of course, until you do some post-print finishing. [Neil Underwood] and [Austin Wilson] figured out a really easy way to smooth out even the jankiest prints using parts you probably already have lying around.

The technique relies on the fact that ABS plastic and acetone don’t get along together very well. We’ve seen acetone used to smooth out 3D printed objects before – either by dunking the parts in an acetone bath or brushing the solvent on – but these processes had mixed results. [Neil] and [Austin] had the idea of using acetone vapor, created in a glass jar placed on top of a heated build plate,

The process is pretty simple. Get a large glass jar, put it on a heated build plate, add a tablespoon of acetone, and crank the heat up to 110C. Acetone vapor will form in the jar and react with any printed part smoothing out those layers. The pic above shows from right to left a 3D printed squirrel at 0.35 mm layer height, 0.1 mm layer height – the gold standard of high-end repraps – and another print with 0.35 layer height that was run through a vapor bath for a few minutes. Amazing quality there, and cheap and easy enough for any 3D printer setup.

You can check out the tutorial video after the break along with a video showing exactly how dangerous this is (it’s not, unless you do something very, very dumb).





Aluminum photo prints are vibrant, scratch resistant, and don’t require frames.  Could be an excellent solution for printing a final render.


Markus Kayser – Solar Sinter Project from Markus Kayser on Vimeo.


Andrew Scott, our recent visiting artist, recommended “e flute cardboard” for Pepakura projects.  It’s white in color, lightweight, and very strong.