What Kind of Paint to Use for Painting 3D Prints

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3D printing is an amazing technology that becomes more and more accessible to hobbyists. So you probably already finished your first few 3D prints and now you want to paint them but you are wondering what kind of paint to use for the job. In this article, I will tell you exactly what you have to watch out for and what kind of paint is best for painting 3D prints.

As a whole, acrylic, oil, and enamel paint can all be used to paint 3D prints. For beginners, the best paint to use is acrylic paint because it is easy to use and quite cheap. It is highly recommended to apply a primer on the 3D print before painting it regardless of the paint used.

I personally almost always use acrylic paints for painting my 3D prints. My favorite acrylic paint is from Vallejo but you can use any decent acrylic paint that you like.

You can see how I usually paint my 3D printed Sculpture right here in this video.

If you want to know how to properly paint 3D prints in detail then consider reading my guide on how to paint 3D prints or my guide on how to paint plastic. Or keep on reading if you want to know more about choosing the right paint for painting your 3D prints.

Can Every 3D Printed Object be Painted?

This is a very general question that I still get asked quite frequently so I will try and answer it as best as I can.

Every 3D printed object can be painted as long as no industrial style 3D printer that prints metal. Even prints that were printed with special filament like wood or glow in the dark filament can be painted as long as the prints are being prepared by applying a primer first.

There are some crazy printers out there that will print in metal by making a sand mold and then casting the mold with metal but as long as you don´t use any of these printers but a regular resin or regular 3D printer then you will be fine.

Resin and plastic filament, even if it is a special filament, can easily be painted but you need to prepare the surface before painting it.

This is usually done by sanding the surface first to get rid of any imperfections and then applying a primer that will prepare the surface for painting and will ensure that the paint will adhere to the surface of the 3D print properly.

You can read a detailed guide on how to properly paint 3D prints right here.

The Best Way to Paint 3D Prints

There are several ways to paint 3D prints including using special paints that will simply adhere to the plastic surface of the prints without the need of a primer but the best way to paint 3D prints involves a few steps.

As a whole, the best way to paint 3D prints is by preparing the surface of the 3D print by sanding it first and then applying a primer. Now the surface is ready to be painted with any type of paint but it is best to use acrylic paint as it is easy to use and quite beginner-friendly.

I tried quite a few ways to paint 3D prints including simply painting the model without any sort of preparation but the best way that I found and also the most reliable way is to prepare the surface by sanding and then priming it.

Here you can see how the model looks like before priming it and then after priming it.

And here is what it looks like after applying the primer.

As you can see, the primer will be a very fine layer of paint that will preserve all the details of the print while giving the surface the perfect conditions for painting it.

Sanding will get rid of imperfections and it will make sure that the primer adheres to the surface of the print, even though it is not necessary.

Applying the primer will prepare the surface for painting. The primer will adhere really well to the surface and any paint applied to the surface of the primer will adhere just as well.

This will ensure that the paint won´t come off easily even when the surface is being scratched.

How to Paint PLA Plastic

One of the most often used filaments for 3D printing are PLA filaments. So it is no surprise that most people are curious about how to properly paint PLA.

To paint PLA plastic first sand the surface slightly to smooth it and remove imperfections. Then apply a well adhering primer to the surface before finally applying the paint directly to the surface. Acrylic paint is the best choice for beginners but enamel and oil paints can also be applied.

As you can see the process is pretty much exactly the same for almost any kind of 3D printed model.

If you want to know more about the process then consider reading my full guide on how to paint 3D prints right here.

Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.

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