I'm looking for some advice on cleaning PLA off of parts (preferably without harsh,

(ThantiK) #1

I’m looking for some advice on cleaning PLA off of parts (preferably without harsh, caustic chemicals.)

As I’ve worked building 3D printers, I’ve got some print heads that have piled up over time, and they’ve all been massively coated in PLA due to head crashes, spaghetti, or other reasons. Over the course of about 4 years I’ve amassed about 8-10 of these.

Is boiling these in water in order to remove all the burnt/gunked on PLA an option? Or is that only going to soften the PLA and not remove it? Is heated lye the only option here?

Am I going to have to resort to a small CNC and a flycutter to get these looking good again?

(Eric Davies) #2

Have you seen this guys experiments with pla removal? http://www.vinland.com/blog/?p=68

(Charles Gagne) #3

Soft brass wire wheel on a drill can clean those up, make sure they are properly held.

(Stephanie A) #4

A torch sounds like a good option.

(Anton Fosselius) #5

Google “Lost PLA” :wink: parts might not be intact afterwards but PLA will be gone :wink:

(ThantiK) #6

@Charles_Gagne Tried that one - plus it’s too many hours of actual labor, my boss doesn’t want me sitting at a brass wheel for 2 hours just to save a measly $5 aluminum block. The PLA doesn’t remove easily.

(ThantiK) #7

@Eric_Davies I’ve seen those, but a bottle of the stuff that he shows worked is $112. These blocks might add up to a total of $45 worth of aluminum. That’s not cost effective. :frowning:

Looks like a bottle of lye it is. Cheap, and apparently @ 60C or so it dissolves PLA quite well.

(James Rivera) #8

I have some “expired” parts, too. Please post your steps and results. Link to your lye source would be nice, too.

(Stephanie A) #9

Grill/oven cleaner spray has lye in it.

(Tefnut Nastula) #10

putt all on a heat over of 220°c and cleaning she after that with s brush and the screw thread with a pass screw tap. that must a 3M are …

(Kevin Danger Powers) #11

@Stephanie_A a torch is a bad idea. I’ve tried it a couple times and it never goes well. The plastic never burns all the way off and I even wrecked a block because I heated up the metal so much that it started to deform… I’d probably uses a wire wheel or a drill with a wire brush in it.

(Ulrich Baer) #12

as said try to pyrolyse it at 200- 300°C.

(James Rivera) #13

@Stephanie_A I thought of that but I wasn’t sure if the concentration was high enough. I might have some lying around…

(James Rivera) #14

Nope. I’ll have to buy some. @ThantiK is oven cleaner what you intend to use?

(MidnightVisions) #15

Bead Blasting will clean it in 1 minute. You just need a small setup to run it. There was the $50.00 project in a clear plastic box on instructables last week.

(Christoph Pech) #16

Aluminum melts at 660°, pyrolyse in the oven is 500°, so that should work fine. For brass a small torch works well because it melts at about 940°.

(Alex Koukarine) #17

Yeah. Find a pro-gun friend/neighbor doing ammo reloading. We usually have that vibrating thing and cleaning media for it at hand.

(ThantiK) #18

@shauki I don’t care about the thread on the inside. I care about it looking clean enough for someone to use. Obviously I’ve got a bunch of taps and dies that I could use - it’s not that these are unusable, they’re just ugly.

Sometimes customers have an old print head that needs fixing and used non E3D parts. I like to ‘upgrade’ them to an E3D compatible part for free occasionally just so they can get access to E3D nozzles. The original print heads I had made used some custom chinese block that we don’t use anymore.

So getting these cleaned up and looking…not unused, but at least lightly used is the goal.

(Christian Schulz) #19

@ThantiK my preferred method is heating them up to 180 degree Celsius, and the brushing them with a brass brush. it works great for me.

(Griffin Paquette) #20

Could make a little vibratory tumbler. The blocks would have a different finish but I bet they would clean up.