Finishing 3D Prints 101: How to Sand 3D Printed Parts

Finishing 3D Prints 101: How to Sand 3D Printed Parts


Hi my name is Sean with MakerBot Learning.
If youre looking for a way to smooth your prints after you remove them from the build
plate, or you’re looking to paint or create a silicone mold around your parts, sanding
is a really great alternative. So today in this video, we’re going to cover some of the
best practices associated with sanding your 3D prints. In order to use these sanding techniques
to completely smooth your model, you’ll need the following supplies: 80, 120, and 240 grit
sandpaper for sanding, 400, 1000, 1500 grit sandpaper for wet sanding, handheld electric
sander or sanding block, x-acto knife or putty knife, needlenose pliers or flush cutters,
a bin to hold water, a respiratory mask, eye protection and gloves. When printing, you
can select certain print settings to minimize work later on, we printed our model with standard
settings of 0.2 mm layer height, 10% infill and 2 shells. Once your part is free from
the build plate, remove rafts and support material from the model. Be sure to wear eye
protection. Remove large pieces of support first, and then approach smaller pieces and
fine details. Take care around edges and seams. Clinging the edges will ensure better alignment
of components if you plan to glue them later on. If you plan to glue the model, be careful
not to remove too much material or you’ll increase the size of your seams and will need
to use filler in order to hide them after gluing. Now that all support material has
been removed, you can begin the sanding process. Sanding will produce small particles of filament
so wear a respiratory mask. Start with 80 grit sandpaper. When sanding with coarse sandpaper,
you’re creating the surface you will later refine. This stage of sanding should remove
the most material and create a fairly uniform surface. Clean and inspect your print under
good lighting. If you’ve missed any spots, sand and inspect again. You can move to the
next grit when you notice that your model surface is fairly even and has changed from
glossy to matte. When you approach higher polishing grits, the shine will return. Sanding
curved surfaces and small features can be a challenge. Use smaller strips of sandpaper
or electric sanders with different attachments to reduce sanding time. In tough areas, sand
both with and against the grain as well as in circular patterns. Once you have sanded
through 80, 120 and 240 grit sandpaper, we suggest wet sanding with 400-1000 grit sandpaper
to achieve a completely blemish-free surface. If you have properly wet sanded your model,
it should feel almost like glass, which is the perfect surface texture if you choose
to paint your model. Here we have an example of the same model with various stages of sanding.
You can see noticeable changes in surface quality at each grit level. If you followed
these steps, you should be left with a model completely free of layer lines and blemishes
that’s ready to be painted, molded, you name it! You just learned how to take your prints
beyond the build plate.

8 thoughts on “Finishing 3D Prints 101: How to Sand 3D Printed Parts

  1. Thanks so much for the tips. As a newbie this was very helpful. What is the best sander for molds? I am 3 d printing bath bomb molds and it is hard to get those inside dimensions smooth. Do you have any suggestions? TIA, Jen

  2. Can i suggest wearing steel toe cap boots, a stab vest or chain link, and some sort of military grade helmet as well as your other PPE, better safe than sorry when working with plastic and sharp objects! If you have trouble you can always get a man to do it for you πŸ™‚

  3. I need to figure out how make my supports that easy to break off.. no matter what I do it's a nightmare.

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