ABS Finishing

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a thermoplastic, highly solvable in acetone and methyl ethyl ketone. In this article, we will present different ways to clean or finish parts printed with ABS. However, please do not experiment or apply without being positive you can handle every safety issue.

As the ease of use and high availability imply, acetone is the most commonly used chemical for finishing ABS-based parts. There exist two main approaches:

First is to put the part inside an “acetone pool”, let the part rest there for a couple of hours. This method generally works well; however, it may cause the part melt irreversibly if the part is not checked nearly every ten minutes. After pulling the part out, whitening can happen in the areas the acetone drips.

The second method is rubbing the part with a tool sank to acetone. This method can give a pretty shiny look but it neither creates a high quality surface nor erases layer transitions totally.

The two methods above constitute relatively safer working environment. However, there exist further methods to finish ABS-based parts’ surface like Austin Wilson and Neil Underwood’s acetone vapor method and Yeager and Kalinowski’s 3D Refiner.