While not always a part of the process, post-processing is a vital step for the success of many 3D printing projects, consisting of methods such as sanding, polishing, painting, and dissolving to improve the model, primarily in aesthetical ways.
On the other hand, just as with most things in the world of 3D printing, the approach for post-processing also varies depending on the filament, where one type of paint or solvent may not work on the plastic you use.
Today, our primary topic will be the analysis of solvents that can successfully dissolve PETG, which will come in handy for post-processing and the models you have printed with PETG filament and removing any imperfections that appear on them after the 3D printing process.
So, which solvents can you use for dissolving PETG?
Here are some of the solvents that can dissolve PETG successfully:
- Ethyl Acetate
- Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK)
While there are many choices, we ONLY recommend working with ethyl acetate for those who don’t have prior experience with solvents, considering the rest are for professional use and can be highly dangerous in a household environment.
Next up, we will take a deeper dive into each of the properties of these solvents and examine the distinct methods we can use to dissolve PETG with such solvents.
Which Solvent Can You Use for Dissolving PETG?
While there are many solvents that can successfully dissolve PETG, a vital point to consider is that each of these chemicals has different properties, which affects factors such as ease of use, effectiveness, and availability.
Without further ado, let’s look at each of these solvents individually, which should make the decision process for choosing the one that can work for you much more comfortable.
Ethyl acetate is a component you can find in many chemicals that you regularly use, such as nail polish removers, glues, paints, and even perfumes.
With a low level of toxicity, low price, and low amount of odor, ethyl acetate is the most suitable choice for most enthusiasts who look to dissolve their PETG at home.
Even though it’s not the most effective solvent available, and may not work with all types of PETG, the fact that it is safe to use in a household environment with proper equipment allows ethyl acetate to provide a balance between effectiveness and safety.
We highly recommend using gloves, eye protection, and a respirator while working with ethyl acetate. While working in an outdoor setting is optimal, a well-ventilated room will also be suitable.
Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK)
Methyl ethyl ketone is a solvent that you can mostly find in products such as paint removers, lacquers, varnishes, and glues in a household environment.
Even though methyl ethyl ketone is a highly effective solvent for dissolving PETG, we DO NOT recommend using it in a household environment.
The danger of MEK primarily comes from the fact that it’s highly flammable, making it only suitable for usage by professionals in a professional environment.
Toluene is a solvent that you can find in many standard products such as silicone sealants, paints, paint thinners, and glues.
While toluene can easily dissolve PETG, it’s NOT a solvent we can recommend for household usage as it is a toxic chemical that poses dangers to human health.
As the toxic effects of toluene appear as a result of inhaling it, it’s only suitable for usage by professionals that wear the necessary equipment to ensure that they don’t inhale it.
An industrial solvent that you won’t find in regular household chemicals, tetrahydrofuran is known for its primary usage of dissolving PVC plastic in industrial settings.
Tetrahydrofuran is one of the most effective solvents for dissolving PETG, but it’s also one of the most dangerous chemicals to work with, making it NOT suitable for household usage.
Since THF is both highly flammable and a health hazard, the only correct way of handling it is with the necessary safety equipment in a laboratory environment.
Primarily used in the food industry for decaffeination of coffee and tea, DCM isn’t a solvent you will stumble upon in household chemicals.
While we can consider it to be the most effective solvent for dissolving PETG, dichloromethane is also the most dangerous chemical on our list and should NEVER be used in a household setting in any way.
As dichloromethane exposure is possible through both contact and inhalation, only trained professionals with appropriate gear should ever get close to this solvent.
How to Dissolve PETG with a Solvent?
Since it’s possible to follow a few different methods to dissolve PETG with a solvent, choosing the one that suits your project will make the process much easier.
Below, we have listed some of the popular methods for dissolving PETG with a solvent:
- Direct application – Directly applying the solvent to an area is the best course of action for removing defects on the model, such as blobs and zits that appear on the object due to issues during the printing process.
- Submerging – Submerging the model in the solvent is usually the go-to method for removing large parts of the model, which is often necessary for removing the supports from the model as cleanly as possible.
- Vapor smoothing – Vapor smoothing involves the usage of solvent fumes rather than bringing the model into direct contact with the solvent itself, which is an effective method for smoothing the model’s surface. Combining this method with sanding often yields the best results.
Does Acetone Dissolve PETG?
Acetone is a solvent that you can find in most households, primarily known for being a very effective solvent for ABS in the world of 3D printing.
Unfortunately, PETG does not react with acetone, meaning that it’s not possible to dissolve or smoothen PETG with acetone by using any dissolving method.
On the other hand, if your PETG dissolves when it comes into contact with acetone, there is a good chance that the spool of filament barely consists of any PETG, if any.
For the purposes of dissolving PETG, ethyl acetate is the next best option, and while not as commonly found as acetone, it’s a solvent that you can safely use at home provided that you have taken the necessary safety precautions.
Even though a few different solvents can dissolve PETG plastic successfully, the options for household usage are pretty limited due to some of these chemicals being suitable for professional use only.
To quickly recap, out of all the chemicals we have mentioned, we can only recommend the usage of ethyl acetate for dissolving PETG in a household setting with no prior experience with solvents.
While solvents such as MEK, toluene, dichloromethane, and tetrahydrofuran are way more effective than ethyl acetate for dissolving PETG, they are suitable for professional usage only due to the dangers they pose.
Mike started his 3D printing journey with the Anet A8 when it first came out back in 2017, and has been obsessed with 3D printers ever since. Nowadays, he primarily uses his Ender 3 to print functional parts that make his life more convenient whenever possible.