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22 Apr Alcohol Vs Acetone & PolySmooth Vs ABS
A little less than a week ago we announced our new product launch PolySmooth™ and the Polysher™ .We are thrilled by the huge interest and enthusiasm we have seen since the products announcement. We feel extremely encouraged and even more excited to bring them to the 3D printing community.
A big thank-you to all those who have shared our story, commented on our kickstarter preview page. All commented has been so very much appreciated from our team, from questions,ideas and criticisms all of these help us further refine our products and make them better than before.
We noticed that many people mentioned the process of using acetone vapor to polish ABS parts, and inquired whether the Polysher™ can be used for doing so. We know this process very well and it contributed to our research in a large way but before getting into the question let us compare the two solutions:
Isopropyl Alcohol (Isopropanol ) Vs. Acetone
As most of you hopefully know our Polysher™ uses isopropanol or ethanol (from different concentrations of 70% or higher) as the polishing liquid. Why? There are 3 main reasons.
- Isopropanol is a lot easier and cheaper to get than acetone. While you can pick up isopropanol in a large variety of stores (supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores, etc), acetone is more difficult to buy. In fact, in certain countries acetone is a highly controlled substance. For example, in China it is a “class III” chemical on the restricted list of “precursor chemicals”, and one has to register with the government in order to purchase acetone legally;
- Isopropanol is much safer for the application. Acetone is considerably more volatile and therefore increases the flammability risk. Also it attacks more materials whereas isopropanol is more chemically inert. Allowing the use of acetone in the Polysher™ may result in the Polysher™ failing to pass the safety test;
- Acetone has higher risk in terms of toxicity. As mentioned above it is more volatile, and inhaling it can cause negative effects to the nervous system and irritation. On the other hand, isopropanol is used widely in cosmetic products.
Therefore isopropanol is a much better choice for this application. It is worth mentioning that, our technology is fundamentally different from the common practice people do in acetone-polishing of ABS, in that it is not a vapor-phase polishing but a liquid-phase polishing. The latter is not only safer (no heating is involved) but also much more efficient.
PolySmooth™ Vs. ABS
For people who are familiar with Polymaker already, one of our leading principles when it comes to developing a product is that the product should be easy to use. We do not want your creativity to be limited by the constraints of the product – in our case the printing material. With this exact principle we developed PolyMax PLA, an engineering-grade 3D printing material that rivals ABS in mechanical properties while being easy to print like regular PLA. Because of that PolyMax PLA is our best-selling filament today. Same for Polymaker PC – we have re-engineered polycarbonate to allow it to be used on most desktop machines; and it is transcending 3D printing in many different ways.
When it comes to desktop 3D printing, ABS has many limits – sensitivity to environmental conditions, the tendency to warp/delaminate, and odor, just to name a few. This is not what we want an ideal 3D printing material to be.
That’s why we designed PolySmooth™, from ground up. The material is not only entirely new (has never been used in 3D printing before), but also has many advantages when compared to the more common 3D printing materials such as ABS and PLA. It is a culmination from our years of research and development in 3D printing filaments. We have applied technologies in our other products to create endow PolySmooth with the perfect 3D printing performance. For example we learned from PolySupport and used the same concept to enable easy support removal for PolySmoothTM; we applied the technology in PolyMax PLA to make PolySmooth™ both strong and tough, and the mechanical properties of PolySmooth™ can easily rival the best of ABS (see the KickStarter campaign page for details). In fact we believe PolySmooth™ may have been the best 3D printing material we have ever created.
More specifically, PolySmooth™ is much easier to work with compared to ABS. It prints under PLA-like conditions, adheres well to common printing surfaces, and has minimum warping/cracking. Below is a quick video to show you the dramatic difference between PolySmooth™ and ABS.
- Testing object: a 10*10*10 (cm3) cube in 10% infill
- PolySmoothTM (left) was printed at 210 C on the blue tape with no bed heating;
- ABS (right) was printed at 260 C on BuildTak at 110 C, in a closed chamber
(more detailed printing conditions can be seen in the video)
You can see that the PolySmooth™ cube showed no warping or cracking with excellent dimensional stability, whereas ABS both warped and cracked, resulting in a failed print. (It should be noted that, the 10 cm3 is quite a large print for ABS; with smaller prints the difference may be less striking)
Well, by what has been presented above we are hoping to show you that our PolySmooth™ and Polysher™ is a far, far better solution than the acetone-polishing of ABS, and this is exactly our goal.
In retrospect it would have been much easier if we just created something for ABS and acetone. However, doing something simple has never been our drive. At Polymaker we always want to strive for the better, to challenge the status quo and to push the boundaries. Because we believe this is what 3D printing needs and where the future lies.
Again, we really thank you for all the participation and support to our KickStarter campaign! We look forward to the launch date of Apr 25!
We have compiled a PDF document with more detailed information on the topic, and it can be downloaded here