What solvents to clean coated metals


I’m using my CO2 laser to engrave various coated metals by removing the coating and leaving the clean metal substrate behind. I’m finding that acetone is able to quickly and easily remove the residue and leave a bright and clean engraving. The problem is it only works on some materials. On others, it removes the coating from the metal.

I’ve also tried Isopropal Alcohal, stainless steel claning wipes, soap and water and while they do not do any harm to the coatings, nothing comes close to as clean and bright as I can get the parts with acetone.

Does anyone have any recommendations for other solvents to try?

I use LA’s totally awesome concentrate to clean tumblers.

Acetone is quite an aggressive solvent and is good at dissolving a lot of organic materials (and as you’ve found out - including many paints etc.). MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone or Butanone) is very similar (these are known as Ketones). Some other common organic solvents are:

  • Ethyl Acetate (Ethyl Ethanoate) (an Ester)

  • Toluene, Xylene, Hexane, Limonene (Hydrocarbons)

  • Methanol, Ethanol, Propanol, Isopropanol, Butanol (alcohols)

  • 2-Ethoxyethanol (Ethyl Cellosolve), 2-Butoxyethanol (Butyl Cellosolve), DPM (Dipropylene glycol methyl ether), TPM (Tripropylene glycol methyl ether) (Glycol Ethers)

This is by no means an exhaustive list but these are some of the more common ones.There’s no “one size fits all” so some experimentation/testing would be required in each case. As usual, always follow health and safety advice when using any of these.

Hope this helps.