How to Sand Your 3D Prints

Sanding 3D printed models can be a great way to eliminate layer lines in preparation for painting, silicone molding, or vacuum forming.

In this “how to”, we will show you the best practices associated with sanding your 3D prints.

Working time will vary depending on your model. The process shown took us about 3 hours from start to finish.


Step 1: Prepare & Print Modal

Consider: Print settings, print orientation, number of build plates. Surfaces printed in the Z axis will have the smoothest surface finish.


TIP:

Surfaces printed in the Z axis will have the smoothest surface finish.


TIP:

When removing supports using pliers or clippers, be sure to wear eye protection.


TIP:

If you plan to glue your model, take care not to remove too much material around seams or joining surfaces, or you will need to use filler later on.


Step 3: Sand with Coarse Grit
Sandpaper (dry)

Supplies used: Electric sander and 80 grit sandpaper


A. Begin sanding with coarse (80 grit) sandpaper


TIP:

Be sure to wear eye protection and a respiratory mask as sanding will release particulates.


TIP:

Be sure not to sand in one place for too long as heat generated from friction could melt the PLA.


Move on to sanding with higher grits when all large to medium sized imperfections or blemishes have been removed.


Step 4: Sand with Medium Grit Sandpaper (dry)

Supplies used: Electric sander and 120 & 240 grit sandpaper


A: Sand with 120 grit sandpaper (dry)

B: Sand with 240 grit sandpaper (dry)

C: If you notice large imperfections that you have missed, return to a lower sanding grit to refine those areas


TIP:

As you move up through various finer grits, sanding should require less time. You will also notice that the model’s texture becomes more refined and much smoother.


Step 5: Sand with Fine
Grit Sandpaper (wet)

Supplies used: 1000 grit sandpaper, plastic bin and water

When your model’s surface is even and refined it is time to wet sand the model using fine grit sandpaper. This process will not remove much material, but will do the most to polish its surface.


A: Submerge the model in a tub filled half way with water


TIP:

Take care around fine features, round surfaces, and other small or difficult to reach places.


Final Part

If you have properly sanded your model, its surface should now be even, blemish free, and glass-like to the touch.

Here you can see the difference between the unfinished surface and final sanded part.


What's Next

Visit one of our other applications pages for tips on how to take your print even further.

We recommend that you visit our pages on:

Gluing
Painting
Silicone Molding

Last but not least, remember to share your work with us on Thingiverse and social media @MakerBot.

We can’t wait to see what you make!


Attribution

Hair Dryer Shell
Ferro
10/2/2015
https://grabcad.com/library/hair-dryer-shell-1

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