3 Tips for Painting PLA 3D Prints
3D Prints look fantastic on their own, but sometimes, you want to give them that extra bit of detail and life with additional color. Homebrew color swapping with filament is possible, but loading and unloading filament every time a color change is necessary can be a pain, especially on detailed models where color swaps need to happen every few minutes. Some solutions automate this process, but they can get pretty expensive. On the other hand, painting models can be done cheaply and easily, even if you have 0 artistic talent (like myself). So here are three tips to help you succeed in painting your models!
- Optimize your model
- Pick the correct type of paint
- Prime (Or just use matte filament!)
Optimize Your .STL Model
The most crucial factor to getting a successful paint job is starting with a good base. You can save plenty of time post-processing by making your print come out as detailed and defect-free as possible. We recommend printing with the smallest layer height possible (we use a 0.15mm layer height) and as slow as possible (we use around 40mm/s). This does extend your printing time, but it saves a lot of hassle in sanding and smoothing your print pre-painting. If your model uses supports, make sure to optimize your settings to leave the cleanest surface finish possible.
Pick The Right Type Of Paint
Various paints work with PLA, but we like acrylic paint the most. It’s cost-effective, easy to source, dries fast, and is water-soluble! There are also various methods for applying paint (airbrush, brush, or spray paint.) We’ll be using a brush for this article, but all other methods work! You can grab some acrylic paint from Amazon or your closest hobby store (Micheal’s, Hobby Town, Home Depot, etc.)
Prime (Or Just Use Matte Filament)
Now that you have your paint ready and your part printed, you are almost ready to start. The last step is to ensure that your piece is ready to take paint! Priming is vital to ensure a nice final surface finish and helps increase the longevity of your paint. We usually just recommend using a spray-on primer to make an even coating easy! Alternatively, you can just use our White or Grey Matte filament for your base model and skip the primer. The matte surface finish of our matte PLA soaks up the paint very well and does a great job of leaving behind an even and durable painted surface.
Show Us Your Masterpiece!
If this article inspires you to paint some of your prints, please let us know! Tag us on any social media @fulament with the hashtag #fulament. These are some prints that our wonderful Noor (Operations Manager) whipped up for a weekend project.