Using Acetone to Strengthen 3D Printed parts

Using Acetone to Strengthen 3D Printed Parts 3D printers are tools for solving problems. Hayden from Clone3D was tasked with creating a live bait tank system for fishing boats. The biggest challenge was creating away to get fresh water from the ocean into the tank. While there are many different water pumps available, there aren’t many mounting options for pumps inside a boat, never mind on the outside!

He had the idea of designing a custom mount for a pump that could be attached on the back of the boat. This would be constantly submerged, allowing fresh water to be pumped in even if the boat was standing. Using his UP Plus, Hayden prototyped the mount and checked that all the dimensions were correct. In order to test if it worked, the printed bracket was attached to the back of the boat. Success! While this was suitable for proving the proof of the concept, it wasn’t suitable for an end use product. The printed bracket was only able to hold ± 12 kg before it showed signs of stress.

He began investigating ways to manufacture the part for sale. Injection moulding was too expensive to set up. In order for it o be economically viable, an order of over 1,000 units would be required and there just wasn’t that amount of demand for the product. The 3D printer was able to produce an accurate part in small quantities. There had to be a stronger material or a way to increase the strength of the ABS-PC part. After some research, acetone vapour “Caution this is dangerous on so many levels” was reported to increase the strength of the part with another added benefit being that it helps to smooth the print surface, giving it a high gloss sheen and greater strength.

After some experimentation to find the ideal length of time to suspend the part in acetone vapour, the part when tested could now hold upwards of 85 kg! This resulted in the acetone part being 7x stronger than the printed part right off the printer.

Dale Nicholls

Dale has been involved in the 3D printing industry for over three years. He has a keen interest in technology having been involved in the tech sector for over 8 years.