Saturday, December 21, 2013

Experiments with Painting Cube PLA Prints

Now that I have the new Sense 3D Scanner, the amazing potential of this great tool has stormed my brain with hundreds of new applications for 3D printing.

The Sense color capabilities can't be realized with the Cube printer; but, that does NOT mean that we cannot begin to think COLOR with our prints.  And, this most likely means paint and dyes.

So, I've been experimenting with using modeler's paint to see how it behaves with my PLA prints.  The first test seems to be success.  I only use the term 'seems' because I don't yet know how well the lacquer that I am using will hold up over time.  For now it looks great and helps to mask the natural layers of 3D prints.

Experiment 1:  Metallic Over White

Here's a quick look at my first experiment.

For this object, I used multiple coats of Testor's No. 28141, Sterling Silver Metallic 3D followed by several clear coats.  The results, in person, are much more impressive than captured by this photograph.

Future Goals

The Sense/Sculpt combination dramatically opened up new possibilities for using the Cube 3D printer in the category of Crafting.  While scans of faces and heads is a natural, there are many, many ways to present those scans beyond the simple bust above.  Making cameo style ornaments is another.  Here, for instance is my first attempt to create a cameo style portrait.

Sense Scanned Cameo Portrait Style 3D Print
While a simple single color works, it should be a lot more impressive with some color that accentuates the cameo motif.  Options might be experimenting with various antiquing and patina techniques.  But, the primary goal will be to minimize layering artifacting.  So, paying close attention to experimenting with modeler's filling and priming materials. 

I'm also very interested in learning to use an airgun for shading and stenciling.  So, if we have any experts in this area I REALLY want to hear from you!

I'm really looking forward to these experiments and look forward to seeing what YOU are doing in this area.  You contributions will be greatly appreciated.


  1. I use acrylics with good results. They are water based and also work nicely in an air brush. Thought I might need a primer, but does not seem necessary. You can use a gesso as a primer. It has some thickness so can be used to smooth the finish, fill holes or minor defects as one may encounter at the top of a print.

  2. Thanks, Damon!

    Always good to hear from you.

    I'll give acrylics and gesso a try as well. As for air brushing, that is going to be down the road. I have the air supply and even an air brush that my daughter doesn't use. What I lack is the skill and experience. So, I'd better build a little containment box or I'll have paint everywhere!!! LOL!

  3. I've had good success with Sculpt Nouveau but on much larger projects from my CNC machine 3d work. I haven't tried it on PLA so I will give it ago. Thanks for the great blog and tutorials on Invent. Russ

  4. Thanks for the tip on Sculpt Nouveau. I'll give that a try.

    So far, both model enamel and lacquer have seemed to work. At least in the short term. I've also tried adding texture using fine 'snow' meant for train layouts. I actually think it's going to be useful, once I get the right application technique.