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Chemical resistance of 3D printable polymers: literature review

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Revision as of 20:20, 11 November 2017 by Toffe (Talk | Contributions) (Chemical processes)

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This is a literature review for a study on the chemical resistance of 3D printable polymers. This literature review is initially targeted at liquid chemicals which can "attack" 3D printed polymers. In the future gas and plasma attack can be studied but for now it is out of the scope of this lit review.


Our target is to find out what 3D printing filaments tolerate the harsh chemicals that we use in semiconductor processing and other cleanroom processes. 3D printing filaments are made from plastics by using additives (plasticizers and colorants), and the vendors rarely or ever provide the information on them to the customer. Therefore, it is not guaranteed that if a certain polymer tolerates, for example, HCl, 3D printed objects made from the same polymer could be used to make custom labware. The chemical resistance of polymers is also affected by chain length, and we do not know if the 3D printing itself causes any changes to that.

Polypropylene (PP) is a 3D printable polymer that can tolerate many chemicals, and the authors of articles listed below have made reaction vessels and microfluidics applications from it. But are we limited to PP? In this we need to search for clues in chemical compatibility charts, also found below.

We will experiment on 3D printing filaments and 3D printed objects by testing them in different chemicals and observing if they swell or dissolve.

Chemicals and processes

List of chemicals

First, the resistance of 3D printable materials at least to the following solvents, acids and solutions is tested:

  • Deionized H2O
  • Isopropanol
  • Acetone
  • Hydrochloric acid (HCl), 37%
  • Ammonia (NH3), aqueous solution 25%
  • Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), aqueous solution 30%
  • Nitric acid (HNO3)
  • Phosphoric acid (H3PO4)
  • Acetic acid, concentrated

These chemicals are common chemicals used in many laboratories and many semiconductor processing steps, such as in the cleaning of silicon wafers.

Chemical processes

  • Resist strip
  • RCA1 and RCA2 wafer cleaning processes, both in RT and 80°C
  • Al etch
  • Si etch
  • HF dip
  • BHF dip
  • Aqua regia
  • Piranha

3D printing materials and their chemical properties

PLA (Polylactic acid)

One of the most used 3D printing filaments. Various vendors and available in multiple colors. Biodegradable, potentially not very resistant to chemicals.

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)


Commercial 3D printing filaments: Inova Co-Polyester, ColorFabb nGen


PP (Polypropylene)

Resistant to various laboratory chemicals. Quite resistant to acids and bases. Widely used in clean rooms. Is susceptible to oxidation for example peroxides, as it is just a hydrocarbon.

PC (Polycarbonate)


Taulman T-glase is made of PETT.


Should be in the sweet spot of fluoropolymers. Low enough melting point to be printable but chemically very durable. According to some data should be resistant to nearly all room temperature liquid chemiclas used in clean rooms.


Ultem(R) is a commercial plastic which mainly consists of PEI.


Taulman Alloy 910 is apparently Nylon-based.


Polyethylene terephthalate modified with glycol.


Journal Articles

Chemical resistance charts




  • Chemical resistance of 3D printing materials
  • 3D printing filament chemical resistance
  • Chemical resistance of polymers
  • Chemically resistant 3D printing material
  • Chemically resistant 3D printing filament


  • Chemical resistance of 3D printing materials
  • Fused filament fabrication materials resistance
  • Chemical resistance of polymers

Aalto.png This page was part of an Aalto University course 3D Printing of Open Source Hardware for Science

Please leave comments using the discussion tab. The course runs in the Fall semester 2017. It is not open edit.

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