Finishing 3D Prints 101: How to Paint 3D Printed Parts

Finishing 3D Prints 101: How to Paint 3D Printed Parts


Hi my name is Sean with MakerBot Learning.
If you’re looking to create a fully realistic end stage prototype, painting is a great solution
for you. So in this video, we’ll cover some of the best practices associated with painting
your 3D prints. To complete the process outlined in this video, you’ll need the following:
a 3D print, rubbing alcohol, paper towels, spray primer/filler, spray paint, hanging
cord, 1000 grit sandpaper, gloves, eye protection and a respiratory mask. To create the highest
quality finish, we sand our models thoroughly before painting. If you’re curious how, check
out our video on sanding for more info. Once you’ve sanded your model completely, it’s
important to clean any remaining debris with rubbing alcohol to ensure a clean surface
for painting. After sanding and cleaning, a bit of touch up may be necessary around
small details, joints, or seams. Needlenose pliers or a putty knife are great for this.
If you’re painting a model that has multiple components which is glued together, a filler
like Bondo can be used to help cover any seams before painting. Visit our gluing page to
learn more. Next, hang your model in an open, well ventilated space, be sure to attach any
hanging wire in an inconspicuous space where it will not prevent coverage on your model.
After hanging your model, apply a high build primer/filler to fill any small surface imperfections.
Apply 2-3 thin coats of primer/filler using a misting technique. When priming, it’s important
to use wide strokes beginning and ending in the space outside of the model to create thin,
even layers. Hold the can 10-12 inches from your model and do not spray in any one spot
for too long or else primer/filler will accumulate and drip. As the primer/filler creates a rough
texture, you’ll need to sand the primer/filler with 1000 grit sandpaper to ensure a completely
smooth surface before applying the top coat. Apply consecutive coats of primer/filler and
sand until you’re confident the surface is even, refined, and no pits, holes or seams
are visible. Paint will do little to cover any surface imperfections that are present.
Once you’ve applied 2-3 layers of primer/filler, and sanded to desired finish, you’re ready
to paint your model. The next step is to apply the top coat. We used standard spray paint
which will yield an impressive finish. Shake well before use and remember to wear eye protection,
a respiratory mask, and gloves. Just as with priming, use wide strokes beginning and ending
in the space outside of the model to create thin even layers. Using a misting technique,
ensure that no stroke marks are visible. Holding the can too close to the model, painting in
thick layers, or holding the can in one spot for too long will create imperfections. Apply
at least 2-3 layers of paint to create the highest quality finish. Wait 10-20 minutes
before applying each consecutive coat to let the paint cure slightly. After each layer,
examine the part for surface quality and repeat this process until you are satisfied with
the finish. Let the paint sit overnight to cure. Typically, the dry to touch within an
hour and ready to polish within 24 hours. If you’d like to protect the surface of your
model, you can also apply a thin clear coat at this point. In the end, you’re left with
a beautiful printed part. Here you can see just how far we’ve come through each stage,
a 3D print that has been sanded and glued, one that has been primed and sanded, and one
that has been painted. You just learned how to take your prints beyond the build plate.

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