HIPS Acetone Smoothing Spots

Hello All!

I printed out a character in HIPS the other day. Yesterday I experimented with acetone smoothing, and I can absolutely verify that HIPS smooths BEAUTIFULLY and quickly in acetone vapor. It actually begins to smooth as soon as you put it in the vapors. It is much faster than ABS.

BUT as the picture I uploaded shows, after the print “dried” it developed these odd little spots all over it. They did not appear until well after the print felt dry (it actually felt dry minutes after removing it from the acetone bath). I am using HIPS I got from Lulzbot/Aleph, and it is the gray filament. It looks like the pigment is separating somehow.

The natural colored ABS I smoothed at the same time did not develop these spots.

Anyone have any ideas why this happened?

Eric Kunzendorf
Jacksonville University

I have never tried smoothing HIPS with acetone, but I know that Lemonine works great!

This thread is a little older but I will try to revive it.

I tried to smooth HIPS with acetone (nail polish remover). It did not do anything to smooth it. I thought I might not be getting enough acetone on the part so I tried with a paint brush. The acetone did not appear to have any affect on the HIPS. I did everything short of soaking the part in the nail polish remover and it did not soften.

Is there some secret I don’t know about?


From waht I have experienced acetone does not work with HIPS, however for something like $11.00 you can get lemonine delivered to your front door and smooth HIPS to your hearts content.

MG Chemicals d-Limonene (Pure Grade) 3-D Printing Chemical, 32 fl oz Can https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RBO75ZQ/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_.bdHvbPSQJBKT


It sounds like PERC/Tetrachloroethylene is an alternative.

Anyone try that TETRACHLOROETHYLENE material from that video? The video is pretty vague, so I don’t even know where to buy it, or if it’s even safe.


If you’re going to use it, use gloves.

If I were going to use a solvent for HIPS, I think I’d prefer Limonene.


Wow, that stuff sounds quite toxic… Maybe I’ll just stick with sandpaper and limonene. :open_mouth:

MSDS can make anything look horrible, but in this case it doesn’t look like something I’d want to have my hands in or have around the house in general. HIPS sands pretty well, and Limonene/Acetone is positively tame compared to that stuff.

It sounds like some HIPS reacts to acetone, some doesn’t. Seems odd, but that’s what people report. I wonder if you need the hardware store acetone? Perhaps nail polish remover isn’t as concentrated? I know it’s available as a non-acetone type as well, it would be kind of funny if people having issues got that type.

I’m surprised how many people suggest Limonene, its MSDS makes it look quite a bit worse than Acetone or Tetrachloroethylene.

I haven’t done a whole lot of reading on it, but what I have read is that it’s non-toxic and could even be food grade if it were processed on the right equipment.What I was reading said the fumes are not toxic, drinking it is not really a problem, the main problem would be if you inhaled the liquid (not the vapor) - but inhaling any liquid is not good, so I’m not sure if they were referring to a generic “liquid in your lungs is not good” or if there was something specific about limonene.

So is what I was reading (which can’t find now) true, or a load of BS?

It’s basically ground up concentrated lemon rind. It might kill you if you have a lemon allergy. Acetone is a much more agressive chemical. Dunno about the other one.

The MSDS shows Limonene as a ‘3’ in the Health/Health Hazzard catagories. Acetone only shows as 1 or 2

Edit: Lemonene and Limonene are NOT the same thing, hence the confusion. I think some may be looking at the specs for lemonene but limonene is what is being used, and it is more toxic. I hope I’m wrong.


I dunno. They say it is made of lemons. It might be made of other stuff. or the other stuff they put in is more toxic. Either way you probably don’t want to drink it.

Fire diamond for Limonene and Acetone both have a “1” under health according to the relevant wikipedia articles - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limonene https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetone .

Food grade Limonene is available. One source suggests food and technical grades are distinguished by the distillation process used after extracting the oil from citrus fruit rinds - http://www.biochemcorp.com/dlimonene2.htm .

Also, neither of these chemicals seem to be suspected carcinogens under external exposure, or associated with other long-term toxicity. Limonene is obviously derived from, and used in, foods. Acetone seems to have been extensively reviewed by the EPA - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetone#Toxicology .

I was searching for the msds and got ±Limonene, which is a bit worse it seems, but I’m still seeing 2 and 3 in the health diamond for d-limonene


I generally don’t trust Wikipedia but it does seem to have the best info, it appears some sites are confusing them. I do find it troubling that Wikipedia has one page for Limonene when there are multiple isomers of it with little mention of that. Kinda sets a person up to be using something a bit worse than they think. It does seem as d-limonene is pretty harmless, even used as a food additive.

Just a comment - I’m no expert:

Many small-molecule chlorinated solvents are either known or suspected of being toxic and/or carcinogenic. This includes many solvents of interest in 3D printing and cleanup. Especially suspicious in my view are di - tri- or tetra-chloromethane, di - tri- [or other] chloroethanes, and their ilk. Carbon tetrachloride is a prime example. Once widely used in dry cleaning, there were instances of deaths caused by insufficiently aired sleeping bags and such. Later it proved to be a highly suspected carcinogen, as well. Chloroform is another example.

It is, of course, possible to drink enough water to kill you.

In many situations toxicity is related to the quantity ingested as well as the duration of exposure. Carcinogenicity is more difficult to measure, and is more often related to chronic exposure than to acute consumption.

Your liver has an amazing ablity to detoxify very small amounts of most things. It is when you overwhelm it with something (alcohol, for instance) that you experience toxic effects. Many chemicals that are relatively safe in small quantities become deadly when someone has consumed even small quantities of alcohol. This is because the liver is too busy dealing with the alcohol to deal with other toxins.

I personally would avoid many chlorinated solvents when possible, minimize exposure when it isn’t (gloves, etc.), and never work with anything that involves volatile organic fumes after consuming alcohol.

My 2 cents…


I never thought about when alcohol is added in the mix. Makes me cringe when I think about the paint crew at the shipyard I used to work at and how they sobered up around noon every workday.