The ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) filament is great for creating durable and heat resistant 3d prints. Huge advantage over PLA and PETG is that it can be sanded or smoothed with acetone to get the appearance of industrial moulded parts. Unfortunately, ABS is nonporous and slick, which makes the paint adhesion difficult. Any standard paint will peel and chip away from your ABS 3d print. As I am huge fan of 3d printing with ABS and PC ABS, I found an alternative painting technique – more difficult to implement, but durable. It consists in painting the ABS print with ABS. The result is an all plastic and everlasting colored 3d model.
Paint preparation – ABS juice
ABS dissolves in acetone. This quality is used to polish 3d printed parts with acetone vapor. It can be used also for preparation of our ABS paints. The paint is acetone solution of ABS material – ABS juice. It will have the color of the primary ABS material that has been dissolved. You can use any leftovers from your prints or dissolve lego parts to get more colors (they are made from ABS).
When you paint with ABS juice, the paint fusions with the upper layers of your 3d printed part. If your bottom, shell and top layers are very thin they may dissolve or loose detail during the painting. Make them at least 2 mm thick (4 shell layers at 0.2 resolution is fine).
Take precautions when you work with acetone. It is irritating substance. Avoid skin contact and work in a ventilated area or at open window.