What materials work well for lubricating moving PLA, ABS, or PETG parts? I'm talking items like the the Gear Bearings or Print in Place Engine.

I've played with a few lubricants on my own, including hand lotion, trumpet valve oil, and carmex/vaseline. Of these, the vaseline has worked best for me so far, but I'd like to hear what has worked well for others, or especially if there's anyone here who understands the chemistry involved and could explain what to look for in different situations.


When dealing with lubrication of plastics, any solvent or reactive substance is to be avoided. Petroleum is risky and Vaseline™ is a brand name for petroleum jelly.

I've had quite good results using inert lubrication such as PTFE and silicone based lubes. PTFE is the generic term for Teflon­™ and is quite a good lubricant. There are both silicone and PTFE greases for higher viscosity applications.

From the Teflon™ link:

Teflon's amazing properties are down to its structure. Like most polymers, Teflon has a carbon-based chain. However, instead of reactive C-H bonds which occur in most polymers, Teflon has all its hydrogens replaced by fluorines. These strong C-F bonds are extremely resistant to attack by any other reagents, making Teflon very inert. This means that no other molecules will react with or stick to Teflon. The exception is Teflon itself, which will stick to itself quite readily, forming thick layers or solid blocks. With a friction coefficient of <0.1, Teflon has the second lowest friction coefficient (surpassed only by diamond-like carbon), which makes it perfect for non-stick items e.g. pans. DuPont invented the non-stick pan coated with Teflon in 1956 and have manufactured it ever since. Teflon coatings are so slippery that they are the only material that a gecko cannot stick to.

Who knew that gecko testing was a thing?

Wikipedia for silicone grease:

Although silicones are normally assumed to be chemically inert, several historically significant compounds have resulted from unintended reactions with silicones.

Powdered graphite is also a good lubricant if one can tolerate loose powder in some constructions.

I've read of others using lithium grease, but not for plastic lubrication.


After some testing, I can say that any oil is a bad option.

I've found that light oils tend to soak into and through any 3D printed FDM parts because of the small voids between lines and in turns and corners.

It is possible that resin-printed parts could be more oil-resistant, but I don't have any for testing.


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