How To Paint 3D Printed Objects

3D printed objects are becoming a more and more popular choice for those who make art. Instead of spending time hand making a model, those who have access to a 3D printer are choosing to use them instead. Although, once printed those 3D objects are far from being a finished product.

Painting 3D printed objects may seem like an easy task. However, there are many steps in this process. If you want to end up with a flawlessly painted 3D printed object, it is best to follow them. The last thing you would want is an uneven surface.

How To Paint 3D Printed Objects

If you are an artist who is new to working with 3D printed objects, you might be a bit confused on how to make these 3D printed objects come to life. Well, if that sounds like you or you would like to know more about painting 3D printed objects, this guide is for you.

Priming

So many people have said it time and time again, and so are we. Priming is key! Whether you are painting cabinets or a 3D printed object, it is important to prime them. So how do you prime a 3D printed object?

Remove Supports

The first step is to remove the supports from the freshly 3D printed object. Often times you can do this by hand, but if the object you have printed is delicate using a sharp tool like a knife or a scalpel would be best. By using a sharp tool to remove the supports, you have more control.

Our tip for you would be to go slowly and carefully.

Sanding

Now it is time to sand. The first part of your 3D object you should sand is where you have removed the supports from your 3D printed object.

You can do this by hand or use a sanding tool. If you decide to do this by hand, using 220 grit sandpaper will get the job done successfully. Alternatively, you can use a rotary sanding tool to get the task done quickly.

After you have finished sanding the supports down, it’s time to smooth the surface of your 3D printed object. How well you sand the surface of your object will impact how it looks when painted. No pressure though!

It is best to do this step by hand, using sandpaper. We recommend starting with 220 grit sandpaper and working carefully and gently. After you have finished sanding with the 220 grit sandpaper and have successfully removed any dents or marks, use a 400 grit sandpaper to get a nice smooth finish.

Prepping for the Primer

Once you have finished sanding down your 3D printed object, it is time to mount it for priming. In order to do this, you need to drill an inconspicuous hole somewhere on the 3D printed object. To mount the object you can just use a paint block and a dowel.

After you are done drilling make sure to wash away any residue or dust from drilling. If you skip this step all of your hard work sanding, will be for nothing. Next, dry the 3D printed object, wearing gloves and using a cloth. Then mount your object.

Time to Prime

How To Paint 3D Printed Objects

Now it’s time to use your chosen primer. We would recommend using a spray primer, as it gives even coverage and is easy to use. You’ll want to mix the primer first, by swirling it, not shaking it.

When you have swirled your primer for about a minute you can spray your first coat. Now that your first coat is done, check your 3D printed object for imperfections and sand accordingly. Then spray your final coat of primer,

Painting

Since you have flawlessly primed your 3D printed object, you are ready to paint it.

Polishing

What might seem like a strange first step is actually really important. You’ll need to buff your 3D printed object and polish it. If this is done correctly, the object will look shiny and glossy.

To buff, use tools designed to buff nails. Make sure to clean your object so it is free of any dust.

Undercoat

Undercoats are always a great idea to help the colors you are going to use to pop. If you are going to be painting with darker colors, a black undercoat would be best. If you are going to use light colors, a white undercoat is ideal.

A tip for having a great undercoat is to paint in layers. This method is using spray paint. It is best to let the undercoat dry for around 20 minutes and then polish this layer.

Repeat this step until you have at least four layers of undercoat.

Topcoat

When your last layer of undercoat has dried, you can start to do the topcoat. If you would like to keep part of your undercoat from being spray-painted by the topcoat, use masking tape to cover these areas.

Now you can spray paint the topcoat onto the areas that require it. If you need to add fine detailing, you can use a fine paintbrush to paint on top of the undercoat during this step.

Secure

To finish painting your 3D printed object it is best to secure all of your hard work with a clear coat. This clear coat of spray paint will make your 3D printed object shiny if you use a glossy clear coat. You could also use a matte clear coat if that is required for your look.

This clear coat is a great way of protecting your 3D printed object.

FAQs

What Tools or Materials Will I Need?

To paint your 3D printed object, you will need:

  • Masking tape
  • Paintbrushes
  • Spray paint primer
  • Undercoat paint
  • Topcoat paint
  • Clearcoat paint
  • Sanding paper
  • Drill
  • Knife
  • Dowel
  • Painting block
  • Cloth

Do I Need to Wear Safety Equipment?

Yes! It is very important to wear at least a mask when spray painting so you don’t inhale all the fumes.

Final Thoughts

We hope you are now feeling confident enough to paint your 3D printed objects.

Michael Moore
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