3d printing review

Painting ABS prints with nail polish

ABS is a great material for 3d printing functional parts, but for me is also a prefered filament for decorative prints and models. It allows to send the print and apply acetone vapor, which gives incredibly good finish and polish.

The main disadvantage comes with multicolor models. Acrylic paints that adhere well on PLA prints won’t do for ABS. In order to overcome this issue, I invented the ABS juice paint, which delivers absolutely solid colored piece of ABS plastic. This method is limited though, because it takes a lot of time and the choice of colors is poor (depends on what abs colored parts or filament leftovers you have available to dissolve).

Why nail polish?

Nail polish is also an acetone base paint. It adheres great on ABS and it offers unlimited number of colors and variations. I tested it on 3 ABS printed models of Futurama characters – Bender, Roberto and the Planet Express ship.

3d printed Roberto - painted with nail polish
Roberto was painted with metallic nail polish
The Planet Express ship is a free design from Thingiverse. It was a pain to paint it with nail polish, because it has many small details. The end result is satisfactory though.
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This 3d printed Bender was my first nail polish painted model. It was quick and easy paint job, using only two colors.

Tips for painting with nail polish on ABS

One of the main difficulties when applying the nail polish is that it dries fast. This results in paint layers with different thickness.

A solution for even layers is to dilute the nail polish with acetone. In this way the paint becomes liquid enough and the application is easier.

Depending of what is the base color of your model, you will need 2, 3 or 4 paint layers to cover it well. The good think is that one layer of nail polish dries fast (10 min max).

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