How to paint 3D printed parts?

@HankCowdog and others have occasionally mentioned painting 3D printed parts but I would like to hear some specific advice on what works well and what to avoid. I have used whatever spray paint I had on hand successfully but what if you need to use a small brush on specific areas? Is primer needed?

Gunze Sangyo Mr Surfacer (available at hobby shops) is a primer for plastic models. It has a miraculous property of filling in small gaps while preserving surface detail. There are different thicknesses between “500” (thick and brush-on) and “2000” (spray on). You can use it in multiple coats, sanding between, to build up material in the valleys while sanding off the peaks, to get a smooth surface.

As with all paints/glues, practicing on something you don’t care about is advised.


This model was fully 3d printed on an FDM printer and painted.
I used this process:

  1. Pre-Sanding, with 80, 120, 200 and 400 grit sandpaper.
  2. Filler primer
  3. Sand with 120, 200 and 400 grit sandpaper until plastic is exposed and the primer is only in the low spots
  4. Filler primer again
  5. Sand with 200 and 400 grit sandpaper to eliminate high spots.
  6. Regular primer from my airbrush, model spray primer would work too
  7. Sand any problem spots with with 400 grit
  8. Paint the rest like any plastic thing.

Is this overkill…probaly ya


Impressive! How many hours to print? How many hours to finish? ABS or PLA?

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~30ish hours of printing I think.
I didn’t keep track of finishing or painting… its a hobby best not pay to much attention to the time costs…


No! Its for fun. Great job!

This goes double for 3D printing. It will teach patience or at least to tolerate a slow process.

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Indeed, I’m learning slowly. And I do appreciate those who have the patience and talent to create nice things such as @frank_lima and others: Show and Tell June 2020

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