Published May 11th, 2022 01:41

The fascinating world of 3D printing has grown in popularity across a wide range of sectors. It is beneficial to bring your ideas to reality, whether you utilize them for business or enjoyment. However, after you've begun building your models, you need to consider how you can have perfect good-looking painted 3D prints. That’s why we have gathered information and made this article for you as a guideline on how to paint 3D printed objects! So let’s see what we need to do now!

I. Choose the best paint for 3D prints 

3D printing is an incredible technology that is becoming increasingly accessible to amateurs. So you've probably finished your first few 3D printing and want to paint them, but you're not sure what sort of paint to use, what 3D print paint you should use. 

Every 3D printed object can be painted as long as it is not made using an industrial type 3D printer that produces metal. Even prints made with unique filament, like wood or glow in the dark filament, maybe painted if the prints are properly primed. There are some strange printers out there that will print in metal by creating a sand mold and then casting the mold with metal, but as long as you don't use any of these printers and instead use a conventional resin or 3D printer, you should be good. Resin and plastic filament, even if it is a particular filament, maybe simply painted; nevertheless, the surface must be prepared before painting. This is normally accomplished by sanding the surface first to remove any defects and then using a primer to prepare the area for painting and ensuring that the paint adheres well to the surface of the 3D print.


Depending on the solvent, paints can be classified into several types. Oils, enamels, lacquers, and acrylics are the most frequent, and the majority of them will work well with both ABS and PLA. As a beginner, stick to acrylic paints since they dry quickly and can be washed with water. Typically, you must pick whether to use an airbrush, a brush, or bottled spray paint. While a brush is less expensive than the other alternatives, it can be difficult to get a uniform layer of paint, with obvious blotches in some areas and the underlying color showing in others. An airbrush, on the other hand, is expensive and has a high learning curve. This leaves spray paints, which achieve a perfect blend of price and convenience of use.

The painting procedures and paint selection for PLA and ABS are nearly identical. However, because of the changes in the surface, you must exercise caution. Because the surface of PLA models is porous, the initial layer of paint does not look amazing.

As a result, you need always use a suitable primer, especially for PLA, to smooth the surface and fill the pores. You can apply many coats of paint after 2-3 applications of priming to achieve the desired effects. Acrylic-based paint is the finest for PLA. Acrylic paint will provide the greatest overall finish on your 3D print and will only require a couple of applications.

ABS models, on the other hand, have a smooth surface and are simple to paint. However, in order to eliminate the unsightly 'blobs,' the models must be sanded and smoothed out before applying the colors. Applying a primer is also an important step before painting, so don't miss it.


II. Choose the best primer for 3D prints 

Aside from the paint for 3D prints you need, you should pay more attention to choosing the best primer for 3D as well. By establishing a smooth final surface, priming transforms your 3D print into a professional product and simplifies the painting process. Priming is required since the paint will never conceal all defects, especially when striving for a near-perfect product.

Because it quickly covers a surface with a uniform coating, spray-on primer is the ideal technique to paint your printed components. Brush-on primers are available, although they are difficult to use and are better suited for fine touch-ups. Choose a plastic-compatible primer and paint from the same manufacturer for the best results. 

Both the Toom Plastic Adhesion Primer and Toom Spray Filler are from a local hardware store brand, and related products include DupliColor Plastic Primer and Rust-Oleum Filler Primer. These are the items that are commonly recommended for painting 3D printing.


III. How to paint 3D printed objects?

It is feasible that in the future, every home will have a low-cost 3D printer. It will be a useful tool for creative folks. Today, many 3D printing aficionados are eager to learn about all of its functional potentials and put them to use for their own enjoyment. Their enthusiasm for the promise of 3D technology has grown steadily over the last few years. 

Although fascinating, 3D printed models are often monochrome. Learn how to paint 3D printing so that they resemble their prototype. You may use any high-quality acrylic paint and a paintbrush or airbrush equipment, but first, prepare the sculpture (sand and prime it). The entire smoothing 3D print process might be time-consuming, but it is well worth the effort.

Here are steps that will help you make perfect painted 3D prints.


Clean the object

The first step is to thoroughly clean the final piece to eliminate any superfluous components and supports, as well as any anomalies. To remove the artifacts, use a knife or a cutting blade. Simply ensure that your surface is as smooth as possible.

Smoothing the print

Smoothing 3D printing is a critical step if you want a smooth surface. Trimming rough print elements, such as support stubs, before sanding is considered the first stage.

Smoothing the 3D model entails a variety of techniques such as sanding, acetone vapor for ABS, and ethyl acetate for PLA. Because the latter approaches entail numerous health risks, sanding is the ideal option for smoothing out the models. 

And, because many complicated SLA and FDM 3D printed items need supports to prevent overhang portions from collapsing, the support material must be removed in the first place. To execute this step carefully, you can use a knife, pliers, rotary tools, or a razor blade. After then, the model's surface will be rough. As a result, it is recommended that it be sanded to make it more polished. It is a method for smoothing 3D printing at home. Depending on the layer height, you will usually see visible lines and patterns from printing before painting PLA 3D printers or ABS projects. For 3D printers, these lines may also be sanded off using a medium, fine, and extra-fine sandpaper. Start with 220-320 grit sandpaper to carefully smooth the surface before moving on to 400-600 grit. 

After you've finished sanding, you may go on to the next stage of selecting paint for 3D printers and prepping 3D printed models for painting. However, before beginning, make careful to clear away any dust.


Apply primer

The next step to paint 3D printed models is primming. By establishing a smooth final surface, priming transforms your 3D print into a professional product and simplifies the painting process. Priming is required since the paint will never conceal all defects, especially when striving for a near-perfect product. Choose a primer that will work with your plastic. You should use spray-on primers because they can quickly cover the whole area with a uniform layer. Brush-on primers, on the other hand, are great for delicate touch-ups.

Primer paint is applied to 3D printed items to prepare them for future painting. It is used to improve paint adherence to the model surface and to fix any other tiny flaws in an item, such as filling in holes and fine lines to make a smooth 3D print.

You can apply one to five applications of primer depending on the color of your 3D printing. Allow your project to dry in between coats. In addition, apply a primer in horizontal or vertical lines and adhere to the primer application pattern throughout the model.

After the last priming layer has dried fully, you will need to sand the model again using fine sandpaper for 3D printing many hours later. This allows you to smooth the 3D print surface before painting and remove any roughness that may have appeared during the primer coating technique. A simple final polish might be useful in achieving a more professional appearance.


Paint for 3D prints

Acrylic paints are suitable for beginners. Otherwise, spray paint and an airbrush produce absolutely amazing effects.

You should have a mental vision of the finished product at this time. The painting procedure is quite similar to the priming procedure. 

Move fast with the nozzle near the revolving model. To avoid sagging, start with two light coats and end with three or four wet passes, allowing 5 to 10 minutes in between. If you want to keep refining the surface, you may buff and polish the paint surface to keep it smooth and shiny under the clear coat, although this is optional.


To retain details, mask the essential areas before applying the topcoats. Consider topcoats to be layers on top of prior coats. Whether the topcoat is thinner, the first and second coats will show more, but in between applications, let the paint sit for a few minutes to see if the color is saturated enough.

This "seals" the painted model, preserving the paint surface and attaining the required shine. Apply the clear coat in one or two thin, uniform coats, allowing 10 minutes between applications. Your painting is finished at this stage, but if you want a super glossy finish, you may polish it further with wax or a fine polishing agent.

Allow the paint to cure overnight before cleaning the part with a tack cloth the next day.


Finish your 3D prints

To complete your project, add a thin layer of matte or gloss sealant. It is the greatest approach to keep the paint and your creativity safe for years to come. When selecting a clearcoat brand, consider what different manufacturers recommend and choose a brand that is suitable for your paint coatings. 

Overall, there are several techniques for you to create good painted 3D prints, whether with acrylic or airbrush paint. Just make sure your 3D objects are properly prepared before painting. But keep things in your mind that a lot relies on how you smooth and prime your model beforehand. Without a primer, the paints may not adhere correctly and instead flake off, destroying your work. Hope you enjoy your work!