Finishing hobbyist 3D prints

Smooth as a.. thing that is very smooth

3D printed pig from MakerBot TV S02E09

Objects that come out of most hobbyist 3D printers look a bit rough. The printing process creates ridges and swirls that, in my opinion, look nice and homemade… But to others that look can be an eyesore.

Luckily, ABS plastic is very receptive to post-processing. As I tell folks whenever I run a 3D printing demo: you can sand it, drill it, paint it, you name it.

The team at MakerBot TV recently put together an episode showing some of these finishing techniques, including the use of modeling epoxy:

Applying modeling epoxy to a pig

That’s definitely a method I’ll have to try sometime. My own process for smoothing involves light sanding, followed by multiple applications of acetone:

A blade for my Sword of Omens print in silver ABS

For more techniques, you can watch the full episode of MakerBot TV embedded below:

If you’re going to put some of these to use, just keep in mind that basic safety equipment is always a good idea.

(via Make)


Derek Quenneville is a 3D printing evangelist who posts weekly on the Ponoko blog. Follow him on Twitter @techknight.

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One Response to “Finishing hobbyist 3D prints”

  1. Danny Says:

    We’ve been finishing 3D prints for the last few years for artists, mostly maquettes off of a Stratasys machine. We used to use Roso’s Foamcoat which worked pretty well but similar to the epoxy method, it winds up being a serious subtractive process and it’s easy to loose details. The easiest and most accurate method we’ve found so far is to use an automotive grade ‘filling’ primer, it’s way thinner than epoxy or foamcoat, and way easier to sand than the ABS.