3m Novec Cleaner - safe for fan?

  • I purchased the 3M Novec Electronic Degreaser as recommended by the official fan maintenance. After a cleaning, my fan blades seem like the plastic is melted (see picture). They are sticky and I cannot wipe off any residue. What in the world did I do wrong?? My fan was cleaner before I cleaned it. Now I feel like it’s ruined. Help!

Could be the solvent melts that type of plastic. You can try TV/Radio pot cleaner. I’ve read it’s safe to degum you fans.

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I doubt the official cleaning recommendations would include a solvent that melts the fan blades lol.



As you appear to be new here, I suggest you spend some time reading the official support pages - link at the top of every forum page.

I got the links to the degreaser and the glowforge maintenance page from the support community. Where else is it that I’m supposed to look?

My reply was directed at paulbalcaen, who suggested this was not a suitable product to use.


It is the only product Glowforge recommends.

I found that while Novec is recommended, and dissolves the gunk very well, It also evaporates quickly leaving the gunk like a hard plastic. They recommend that you also move the Glowforge outside as the vapors are horrid.

I tried to pull the vapors outside with the Vivo exhaust fan and ended up with a puddle on the bottom that turned to solid plastic ruining the fan, but it was just dried gunk and not the blades that dissolved and dried hard.

Glowforge does not recommend hand sanitizer, but I use it everywhere except the lenses and MDF (as it also dissolves MDF glue).

Thanks. I was able to scrape the hard stuff off one side of the fan blades but I can’t get it off the back side of the blades.

I’ve always found this post by Jules to be incredibly helpful. Yes it takes time but well worth it.


There is a very detailed discussion here…

I have had great results with the hand sanitizer and probably note that in the discussion. There is one caveat however in that I found some cheap hand sanitizer that I think had methanol that ripped up acrylic plastics and did not act like any other brand I have purchased.

Urp- too slow. :dotted_line_face:

Despite it being an “official recommendation” (that still only exists in this forum, as a comment on a 4 year old post), I do not consider it safe or even worth attempting.

The main effects of spraying 3M Novec into the fan are:

  • The fan is still not clean, but is instead coated by a mixture of the dirt that was already there and a sticky residue from the degreaser
  • Now, the fan is unbalanced, noisier than before you “cleaned” it, and as has been shared on the forum at least 5 times now, may spin itself apart and throw a broken fan blade at high velocity

Either just “clean” the fan with some nylon bottle brushes, or buy an external inline fan to use instead. Don’t spray any liquids onto a running fan. They do not help.

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Not wanting to start a debate here, but…

I used Novec back in the 90’s. I used to build, maintain, service PC’s for customers, and it was quite effective at removing dust residue on fans and even circuit boards - which would then be cleaned off and dried with compressed air.

I do NOT believe it is the magic cure-all for neglected laser cutters. Once you get beyond a certain amount of build-up, mechanical cleaning is pretty much the only option.

I do, however, believe it would be just fine if owners stayed on top of the maintenance and cleaned before there is significant build-up.

I also believe that any alcohol-based solvent, even hand sanitizer as RBT mentioned, will work just as well. That’s all I ever used on my air-assist, once, in conjunction with a pipe-cleaner.


While I agree that it’s not a great solution, it’s on the official support page, and has been recommended by support (when support was on the forums) far more than one comment on a 4-year old post.


One of my main reasons for using hand sanitizer is the thickener allowing a reasonable amount to stay on a vertical surface and dissolve the gunk and still not leave a mess behind or eat your lungs.

Novac is basically hand sanitizer or isopropyl alcohol in a spray can.

Yes, it has “trade secret” ingredients but folks have been using alcohol to clean off circuit boards and other electronic components since long before it was “invented”. The only reason we used it for customer machines was our service dept. had it, and it was convenient.

I have a gallon container I used to throw into my ultrasonic cleaner along with receivers, motors, and motor speed controllers for RC models (that had either been exposed to the elements or dunked in a lake…) Once blown off and allowed to dry, the majority operated like new.

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It certainly does not act that way to my lungs or the goop. I get asthma attacks easier than most and the Novec about knocked me over. It also evaporates very much more quickly turning a pool of mixed gum and Novec into a solid plastic-like rock while the sanitizer just leaves a sticky gum easily re-dissolved. It also does not smell like Isopropyl Alcohol.

It’s been a long time but I believe its propellant is mostly something called dichloroethelyne which is very similar to chloroform.

We used to use it in the service bays, not in the office.

Major retail stores stopped carrying certain deodorants because they used butane as a propellant.

Nasty stuff everywhere…


That might account for the claimed non-flammability of Novec which could not be claimed of Isopropyl alcohol.

Some of the Novac product line is a fire retardant.

Which was my original point, that it is much harsher than sanitizer to use, and because I could not breathe it, I pumped the fumes outside with the Vivo and essentially killed the exhaust on my original machine.