MakerBot-Article-guide-painting

How to paint your 3D prints

If you’re an engineer or product designer creating concept models, a prop or set designer, artist, or an educator looking to add incorporate a bit more creativity into your classroom 3D printing activities, painting your models can be a great solution.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a nearly automotive quality paint job on any of your 3D printed objects.

Working time will vary depending on your model. Including drying time, the process shown took us about 6 hours from start to finish.

STEP 1: PREPARE & PRINT MODEL

When preparing models for painting in MakerBot Print, keep in mind how your print settings will affect the quality of your paint job.

Consider: Print settings, print orientation, number of build plates

TIP: Surfaces printed in the Z axis will have the smoothest surface finish.

TIP:Printing models in 100 micron layer resolution will result in a slightly smoother surface finish, but will take significantly longer.

TIP: If possible, avoid placing support material in places you intend to paint as they will require more post processing to remove completely.

STEP 2: REMOVE SUPPORT MATERIAL & RAFTS

Supplies used: Needle-nose pliers or flush cutters

After you remove your print from the build plate of your printer, you will need to remove any raft or support material.

A. Remove prints from the build plate

 B. Remove rafts

C. Remove large pieces of support

 D. Approach smaller pieces and fine details

STEP 3: SAND, GLUE & USER FILLER (OPTIONAL)

Supplies used: Sanding block, electric sander, 80,120, 240, 400, & 1000 grit sandpaper, Cyanoacrylate glue (super glue), Bondo

For the highest quality paint surface, an optional next step is to sand your model.

Make sure to wear eye protection, gloves, and a respiratory mask.

A. Dry sand the model using 80-240 grit sandpaper

B. Wet sand the model using 400 & 1000 grit sandpaper

C. Glue the parts of your model together

D. Apply filler to any gaps or blemish in your model and sand once dry

TIP: Find more detailed information here on gluing and sanding.

STEP 4: HANG

Supplies used: Hanging cord

Once your model is ready for painting – hang it in an open, dust free space with plenty of ventilation. This will allow you to paint all surfaces evenly without having to handle the model while paint is drying.

A. Tie hanging cord around the model

B. Hang the model in an open room with a tarp

STEP 5: PRIMER/FILLER

Whether you have chosen to sand your model and apply filler or you are simply painting a rough PLA model printed at high resolution, a few layers of primer/filler will fill any small surface imperfections before painting.

Primer filler is a high build spray filler that comes in aerosol form and can be purchased at most local hardware stores.

TIP: Before spraying remember to wear gloves, eye protection, and a respiratory mask.

BE SURE TO:
Shake well before use
Use wide strokes beginning and ending in space outside of the model
Hold the can 10-12 inches from the model
Paint in thin layers using a misting technique

AVOID:
Painting in thick layers
Holding the can in any spot for a long time
Holding the can too close to the model

STEP 6: ALLOW MODEL TO DRY

Once you’ve sprayed 2-3 layers of primer/filler, allow your model to dry for 30-40 minutes.

STEP 7: SAND

A. Lightly sand your model with 1000 grit sandpaper (dry). This will smooth the surface of the model as the primer filler tends to create a rough surface texture similar to sandpaper.

B. Evaluate for quality.

C. If there are still surface imperfections you would like to smooth, continue to apply consecutive layers of primer/filler, and sand.

Once you are happy with the model surface, move on to painting.

STEP 8: PAINT

When choosing paint, you typically have a large degree of freedom as to which color and type of paint you use. Make sure to pick something that adheres well to plastic.

A. Choose a paint

B. Test for color in an inconspicuous location before painting the entire model

C. Let the paint sit overnight to cure

TIP: Typically the paint will be dry to touch within an hour or so, and ready to polish within 24-48 hours.

TIP: If you’d like to protect the surface of your painted model, you can also apply a thin clear coat at this point.

FINAL PRODUCT

In the end, you’re left with a beautiful painted model ready for approval presentation, enhanced for sets or galleries, optimized for better classroom learning, or simply improved for better innovation.

Here you can see just how far we have come.

MakerBot-Article-guide-gluing

How to glue your 3D prints

Gluing your 3D prints can be a powerful post-processing method if you’re looking to combine multiple components of an assembly, or create a model larger than the build volume of your 3D printer.

In this How To, we will show you some of the best practices associated with gluing your 3D prints.

Working time will vary depending on your model. The process shown took us about 20 minutes from start to finish.

TIP: Great models can be found on Thingiverse or GrabCAD for free.

STEP 1: OBTAIN YOUR MODEL (DESIGN OR DOWNLOAD)

For our model, we chose a prototype hair dryer created by Ferro from GrabCAD.
If you’re designing from scratch, consider where you’d like the components to be joined.

TIP: If creating joints or keys for your model, make sure to create joining features large enough that your printer can create them cleanly. Generally, features should be larger than 4-5mm in diameter.

STEP 2: PREPARE

  1. When preparing models for gluing in MakerBot Print, keep in mind how your print settings will affect the gluing process.

Consider: Print settings, print orientation, and number of build plates

  1. Because of the size of our model, we chose to print on our MakerBot Replicator+ Desktop 3D Printer in MakerBot PLA.

TIP: If creating joints or keys for your model, make sure to create joining features large enough that your printer can create them cleanly. Generally, feTIP: Surfaces printed in the Z axis will have the smoothest surface finish.

TIP: Avoid placing support material around joining features unless necessary.

TIP: PLA is easy to print with and doesn’t shrink or warp during the printing process. Material such as ABS may warp or shrink, negatively affecting the fit of your model components.
atures should be larger than 4-5mm in diameter.

STEP 3: ROUGHING

Supplies used: Needle-nose pliers or flush cutters

A. Remove prints from the build plate

 B. Remove rafts

C. Remove large pieces of support

 D. Approach smaller pieces and fine details

TIP: Take care around edges and seams to ensure your pieces fit together properly.

STEP 4: INSPECT JOINTS

Your model is ready to glue when all surfaces and joints are smooth and fit together as intended.

TIP: If you are having trouble fitting seams together or clearing any raft or support material, sanding may help. For more information on sanding, view (Hyperlink the article about sanding)

STEP 5: SECURE COMPONENTS

Supplies used: Rubber bands

A: Join model components using rubber bands

Join model components using rubber bands as they will better conform to the shape of your model.

TIP: If rubber bands don’t work due to the geometry of your model, try straps, tape or clamps.

STEP 6: SPOT GLUE

Supplies used: cyanoacrylate glue, accelerator, paper towels

A. Begin gluing by, spot glue around your model (this will ensure that your model is evenly attached in all places)

B. Apply a small amount of glue to a seam in a central location

TIP: Work from the center of your model outwards in regular intervals to achieve even gluing.

C. Wipe away any excess with a paper towel                        

D. Use an accelerator and spray the area you just glued

 E. Once glue has cured, remove the rubber bands

STEP 7: COMPLETE SEAMS

A. Apply glue evenly to the remaining unglued seams

B. Wipe away any excess

C. Spray accelerator

STEP 8: INSPECT

Take a moment to examine the fit.

STEP 9 (OPTIONAL): FILL SEAMS

Supplies used: Bondo, 400 & 1000 grit sandpaper and putty knife

If you find that your seams are rough or have gaps, you can use bondo or filler to smooth them – this works especially well if you plan to paint your model or create a silicone mold around it.

Fillers like bondo come in two parts – filler and hardener.

TIP: Take care around edges and seams to ensure your pieces fit together properly.

A. Wipe away any excess

B. Spread small amount of hardener next to filler

C. Mix and spread generously across seam

D. Allow to cure

E. Sand lightly using 400/1000 grit sandpaper

WHAT’S NEXT?

Stay tuned for our next ultimate guide for post processing – Painting

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How to Sand your 3D Prints

Sanding 3D printed models can be a great way to eliminate layer lines in preparation for painting, silicone molding, or vacuum forming.

In this “how to”, we will show you the best practices associated with sanding your 3D prints.

Working time will vary depending on your model. The process shown took us about 3 hours from start to finish.

STEP 1: PREPARE & PRINT MODEL

Consider: Print settings, print orientation, number of build plates. Surfaces printed in the Z axis will have the smoothest surface finish.

TIP: Surfaces printed in the Z axis will have the smoothest surface finish.

STEP 2: ROUGHING

Supplies used: Needle-nose pliers or flush cutters and chisels

A. Remove the print from the build plate                  

B. Remove rafts and support material from the model               

TIP: When removing supports using pliers or clippers, be sure to wear eye protection.

C. Remove large pieces of support first, and then approach smaller pieces and fine details

D. Clean the edges and seams of your model to ensure better alignment of pieces

TIP: If you plan to glue your model, take care not to remove too much material around seams or joining surfaces, or you will need to use filler later on.

STEP 3: SAND WITH COARSE GRIT SANDPAPER (DRY)

Supplies used: Electric sander and 80 grit sandpaper

  1. Begin sanding with coarse (80 grit) sandpaper

TIP: Be sure to wear eye protection and a respiratory mask as sanding will release particulates.

B. When sanding with 80 grit sandpaper, the goal is to remove any leftover blemishes from raft or support material, and create an even surface that you will later refine. This process will remove the most amount of material and take the most time.

C. In early stages of sanding you will notice that your model surface that was once fairly shiny will become dull and rough and change in color. The shine will return as you move to higher sanding grits.

TIP: Be sure not to sand in one place for too long as heat generated from friction could melt the PLA.

D. To save some time you can use an electric sander or multitool. If using a multi tool, be sure to choose a low setting to avoid overheating/melting the PLA.

E. After each sanding stage, clean the model of any dust and inspect for a uniform surface finish

Move on to sanding with higher grits when all large to medium sized imperfections or blemishes have been removed.

STEP 4: SAND WITH MEDIUM GRIT SANDPAPER (DRY)

Supplies used: Electric sander and 120 & 240 grit sandpaper

A: Sand with 120 grit sandpaper (dry)
B: Sand with 240 grit sandpaper (dry)
C: If you notice large imperfections that you have missed, return to a lower sanding grit to refine those areas

TIP: As you move up through various finer grits, sanding should require less time. You will also notice that the model’s texture becomes more refined and much smoother.

STEP 5: SAND WITH FINE GRIT SANDPAPER (WET)

Supplies used: 1000 grit sandpaper, plastic bin and water

When your model’s surface is even and refined it is time to wet sand the model using fine grit sandpaper. This process will not remove much material, but will do the most to polish its surface.

A: Submerge the model in a tub filled half way with water

TIP: Take care around fine features, round surfaces, and other small or difficult to reach places.

B. Using 1000 grit sandpaper, sand the model until it is completely smooth to the touch

C. Dry the model and inspect for a uniform surface finish

FINAL PART

If you have properly sanded your model, its surface should now be even, blemish free, and glass-like to the touch.

Here you can see the difference between the unfinished surface and final sanded part.