Can You Dissolve Polylactic Acid (PLA 3D Parts)?

Polylactic Acid PLA is soluble in the following agents:

  • Acetonitrile
  • Chloroform
  • Methylene chloride
  • Tetrahydrofuran
  • Soidum Hydroxide
  • Dichloroacetic acid
  • Ethyl acetate
  • Warm water

Yes, PLA can be dissolved using these agents to clean up the 3D print and you can buy them at your local home depot and ACE hardware stores.

Main Reasons To Dissolving PLA In Terms Of 3D Printing

Dissolving PLA off 3D printed parts is to clean up for the most part.

These includes:

  • Getting rid of 3D printing support materials
  • Trim extruder heads from the filaments
  • Smooth print surface

How Does Each Agent Perform When Used To Dissolve PLA 3D Parts?


Acetone makes the PLA surface a bit softer and stickier. The final part tends to have a bit of residue after use and loss of strength after a long period of acetone-to-part contact.

Acetone is recommended for welding PLA surfaces instead of smoothening the surface.


Tetrahydrofuran is a dangerous agent that can dissolve PLA material like melting cheese on the stove. When using this to smooth the 3D prints, please use a minimum amount and wear eye and hand protection.

Caustic Soda

Caustic soda is also known as sodium hydroxide, and it can neutralize acids and is soluble in water. It’s readily available and it’s a substitute for tetrahydrofuran, but still treat it with caution.

When it comes to dissolving PLA, results vary widely. Some results are very aggressive and other experience easy flammability. Recommends 120 grams per 1 liter of water

Ethyl Acetate

Ethyl Acetate is ideal for removing PLA supports and smoothing the print’s surface. Still, anyone interacting with ethyl acetate must protect hands and eyes to prevent irritation of the skin and could lead to drowsiness, weakness, or even unconsciousness

Propylene Carbonate

Propylene carbonate is a much safer solvent, however, moderate irritation may still be there if not being careful.

Methylene Chloride

Methylene chloride is a colorless organic liquid chemical that can dissolve PLA. The amount required varies based on the job required and generally, it uses less than ethyl acetate.

Warm Water

Using warm water takes up to 6 – 7 days to dissolve PLA materials until its brittle. It’s not practical for processing 3D printed parts unless for solvent testing purposes

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