You have the 3D printer and the best model to print, and your 3D printer has done a great job of printing it, but still, something is missing. Whatever may be the quality of the printer, your model requires finishing and painting to improve its aesthetic. The final product from the printer is not always showroom-ready. However, you can make them showroom-ready after post-processing and painting the 3D model.

In this article, we cover the painting of PLA by using Acrylic paints and how the whole process goes from smoothing the surface of the PLA to painting it.
Acrylic Paint on PLA

When you want to paint your PLA print, first, you have to decide which paint you want to use, and it completely depends on how you want the final look of your printed part. In this article, we will see about acrylic paints on PLA and how to apply them to the printed object.

Acrylic paint is the best choice because it has all the advantages of oil paints but none of the disadvantages. Acrylic colours are vibrant and have a thick and smooth consistency; painting with such texture is easy. Also, acrylic paints are available in spray cans; this is even easier than using brushes and tubes for painting your PLA.
Painting is easy, but if you want to paint your PLA print, it would be a tricky job. Before painting the PLA, you have to follow some steps to prepare the PLA surface. If applied directly on the PLA, acrylic colours will not adhere to it properly. Hence, below are some steps you must follow before painting the PLA.

Before Applying Acrylic Paints, Finishing is Necessary

Naturally, the prints from the FDM printers come out with a layer line. This is unavoidable in your 3D printer, no matter how small you set your layer thickness. This produces an uneven surface for your PLA prints. It is difficult to paint such a rough surface. It’s difficult for paint to adhere to uneven surfaces. If you want to achieve professional PLA painting, the only way to do this is by making the smooth PLA surface by finishing it.

Before sanding, there is one step of pre-sanding the object; this is the first step, which trims the rough surface of the object. You can use some objects for trimming the print surface, such as Craft Knife, Tweezers, Sandpapers, Toothbrush, and pliers. The important thing is to eliminate any protrusions and make the print surface clean.
Then comes the sanding process. Standard sandpapers are available for sanding; you have to use them. Start with the coarse grit sandpaper. After using this sandpaper, if your print gets smoother, use the finer-grit sandpaper. You have to do this until you get a smoother print in the 2000-grit range.
After completing the sanding process, use metallic polish or solid wax to polish the surface and fill the gaps on the PLA print.
Applying a Primer
Acrylic paint is the best option for PLA print. Before applying paint on the PLA, priming is necessary. Two coats of primer suit the PLA. Primer is available in spray cans, making them easy to apply. While applying primer, be sure to wear a mask, gloves, and protective eyewear. Apply the spray evenly on the item.
Cover Those Parts of the Object Which You Don’t Want to Paint
Like you cover some areas of your wall while painting, you have to cover some parts of the object if you don’t want to paint them. For this, some painting tapes are available, which are a vital tool for painting. Painting tape is easily removable and does not leave a residue when removed. Masking the small part requires more effort but is worth it.

Paint the PLA with Acrylic paint

Acrylic paints are more versatile and are water-based, which produces different finishing of the painting. The choice of paint depends on the look you want. If you want to paint a toy for children, you should go for child-friendly, non-toxic paint. First, apply the base coat of the paint. For applying the base coat, round or flat brushes are the appropriate tools. For fine detailing, fine-tipped brushes are useful. After applying the base coat, inspect it fully; if you find any gaps, you can also apply another base coat.
Some colours are easy to apply to the object before others, depending on the models. Some detailed designs should be painted last. Before applying the paint on PLA, thinning down the paint is necessary. These paints come in a bottle with a very thick consistency, which will create a thick coat; hence, diluting the Acrylic paint is necessary. Now apply the colour; this time, you will be required to paint the object with several coats until you get the perfect covering of the model. This is a good thing as you can control the opacity and application of colours on the printed object.

Start painting the PLA print by using the lightest colors first, then move toward the darkest shade. Applying the darker shades on the lighter ones is an easy way; if your lighter colour spreads on the areas where it is not meant to be, then it would not be an issue as you cover them in the next step while applying the darker colours. These are some necessary tips that you should follow while applying the paints. Also, while applying the paints, you can always darken the previous areas when you don’t want the lighter colors.

Washing Technique

One of the techniques which are used by many 3D artists is the technique of washing. It is used while painting miniatures and models. Washing can create a great contrast in your PLA print. Contrast is created by allowing the mixture of some colours to flow down the object into the recesses of the print. Hard-to-reach areas of the print can be easily painted by using the technique of washing. This technique uses diluted paint to reach every corner of the object. In this stage, you can add all the fine detailing to the printed part.

Dry brushing technique

The final technique is dry-brushing. It highlights your PLA print by using a small amount of paint. They are used to draw fine lines and tiny details. You have to use extremely light brush strokes.

Which is the Best 3D Printing Software for Preparing Your Designs?

There are several 3D printing software options available; however, we prefer SelfCAD. For various reasons, SelfCAD is among the top 3D printing software. For starters, it is incredibly user-friendly and intuitive. Even if you've never used a 3D printer before, you'll be able to rapidly learn how to use SelfCAD thanks to its step-by-step interactive tutorials.

Second, SelfCAD includes a plethora of features and tools that enable you to construct sophisticated designs. It's also an excellent STL editor because it allows you to easily modify and personalize your STL files, which is helpful if you want to make modifications or improve your design before printing it. SelfCAD's built-in slicer is also compatible with the majority of commonly available FDM 3D printers. This makes it simpler to create the ideal G-Code for your 3D printer.

Another significant aspect of SelfCAD is its extensive variety of tools, such as the image-to-3D tool, which makes it simple to convert any image into a 3D model. There are also freehand drawing and sketching tools, making it easy to create any design. SelfCAD gives you all the tools to build basic shapes or sophisticated structures.

SelfCAD provides an astonishing selection of export choices in addition to its robust toolkit. SelfCAD can generate STL files for 3D printing or realistic renderings. You may also import your creations in a variety of formats because it supports the most common 3D file types. You can use SelfCAD regardless of your operating system because it is available on Windows, Mac, and on the web.

Paint and preserve PLA prints with Acrylic:

There are many things to consider while printing and painting a 3D model, especially using acrylic paint on the PLA print. You must learn and use many techniques to create the best art piece by painting it professionally. In this article, we have discussed all the details of PLA painting using acrylic paint and why acrylic paint is the best choice for PLA print. To achieve a perfect model after painting, you can use these steps. By mastering these techniques, you can make your best 3D-printed PLA objects.

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