Introduction: Model Making - From ABS to Ceramic and Wood

Picture of Model Making - From ABS to Ceramic and Wood

3D printed ABS objects can be transformed using some basic materials to look like various realistic surfaces. This cup and base were first printed in blue ABS and were transformed to look like a wood base and a ceramic cup.


(Access to) 3D printer


Sandpaper (dry or wet)

Plastic primer (white/light color)

Spray paint (Nutmeg satin/matte, white gloss)

Step 1: Solidworks to 3D Printing

Picture of Solidworks to 3D Printing

The solidworks model (exported as an STL) is 3D printed in ABS plastic. The model has a lined texture from the layering nature of the 3D printing process - the thickness of the layers depends on the precision of the printer.

Step 2: Smoothing ABS Texture

Picture of Smoothing ABS Texture

In order to smooth the ABS lines, the model is sanded and brushed with acetone (which dissolves the ABS slightly) to create a smooth finish. (The process can be repeated multiple times for the desired result.)

Step 3: Priming

Picture of Priming

The models are sprayed with primer compatible with plastic 2-3 times with about a half an hour drying period in between. The surfaces are sanded slightly with waterproof sand paper in between coats.

Step 4: Spray Painting

Picture of Spray Painting

The cup is sprayed with 3 coats of white glossy spray paint with about an hour drying time in between. The same is done with the wooden base with nutmeg brown spray paint (satin as opposed to glossy). The models are sanded as necessary.

Step 5: Painting Grain

Picture of Painting Grain

The wooden grain is drawn in using acrylic paint, copic marker, and a fine micron pen. The cup is finished with a coat of clear glossy spray enamel.


lennartinstructables (author)2014-02-03

For 3D print enthousiasts who like to use PLA as a source material, Please keep in mind that Acetone does not have a similar effect on it as on ABS. Thank you!

Thanks for that, I didnt know that either. So many people are trying to clean their 3d printer exrtuders of PLA blockages using acetone : )

3dcats (author)2015-05-31

Brilliant. I hadnt known that you could achieve that smoothing effect so simply using acetone. Guess you have to be careful tho so you don't dissolve holes in your print.

mlduffy (author)2014-11-25

I could find if this was answered already but does the cup tip if it is not lined-up properly with the base/coaster?

Awesome design! Well done!

MercuryCrest (author)2014-02-02

Love the design and the process.

I've been curious about hand painting wood grain for a while. Any chance you've got more pictures of the process?

Also, keep an eye out for contests that this would fit...the end result is stunning and I'm sure you could win something....

sitnova (author)MercuryCrest2014-02-03

I'm sorry I don't have more pictures - but I started with the acrylic paint (watered down quite a bit) and laid on a few strokes which pooled really nicely because of the spray paint underneath. Once that was dry, I went over it with the copic marker adding more definition to the striations and then much more sporadically with the micron pen to give it a few knots. It also helps to go over it with an enamel so the ink doesn't rub off. I hope that helps!

MercuryCrest (author)sitnova2014-02-03

Indeed, that does help. Thanks for the extra info!

kvcummins (author)2014-02-03

Excellent work! I was expecting an Alchemy 'Ible... :)

Hardwired22 (author)2014-02-03

I love your design!

gecko_girl3 (author)2014-02-02

This is a beautiful design! If it's alright with you I'd like to reference it and attempt to make something similar from wood and ceramic. A functional mug in this design would make a wonderful gift for your favorite coffee drinker (at least my favorite coffe drinker would love it).

sitnova (author)gecko_girl32014-02-03

Please do!

spark master (author)2014-02-03

Is it safe to drink Hot Acidic Liquids from, like coffee or tea or even cocoa? If it is made as a object d'art then it is very nice, could uuse it on a set from Star Trek, very futuristic looking. But if it is to be functional, I would never drink from it. I love the glazed look the acetone gave it. Now if you cast the thing in clay and glazed it the same blue with a clear finish.....then nice real wood bases....It really is handsome.

bon chance!

a.steidl (author)2014-02-02

Very nicely done. Good ible, too. Gotta get/build a 3D printer. So much stuff I want to make. Good to know it's as easy as this to smooth/paint it. Love the woodgrain work.

stephenfitton (author)2014-02-02

Design and functionality this is a work of ART!.

Transferred to the other media suggested would overcome the two drawbacks of cups,Insulation from surface damage and resistance to tip-ability.-Art New-Vogue!

bricobart (author)2014-01-31

I love the design! Make it with natural resources like wood & clay and I'll be your biggest fan ;)

psavas (author)bricobart2014-02-02

Me three! This is one of the most unique and beautiful mug designs I've ever seen! Get it to etsy, I'd definitely buy one if the mug were ceramic!

luckylulujoe13 (author)2014-02-02

This is such a nice design. If it was actual ceramic and wood I'd buy 8 sets even if it was way expensive. Make molds and jigs and etsy it!!!

devbert (author)2014-01-31

Is it safe to drink out of?

sitnova (author)devbert2014-01-31

Probably not - but if it is printed from shapeways in ceramic it definitely can be.

Buso (author)sitnova2014-02-02

Why not safe? What is going to get in the drink that would make it unsafe? Of course, some liquids may ruin the finish but once most finishes are completely dry they are food safe. Besides, the real focus is on the process and the design. It is model making, the utility of the model is a minor factor. -- GREAT JOB!

jproffer (author)Buso2014-02-02

chemicals will still leech out of the finish, even after dry. This is especially true if the liquid is left in for a long period of time, and/or it's a hot liquid.

GraphixS6 (author)2014-02-01

Nice. Although, would I would do is just then cut the pieces out of wood, and then mold the cup and slip cast it. Then you have an authentic, safe to drink out of piece. Good practice in surface manipulation, though.

Void Schism (author)2014-01-31

I love the use of acetone to smooth the ABS, but I can't help but wonder if this was the best way to achieve the result.

For example, some 3d printer services (such as shapeways) offer ceramic prints which would be more resilient and food-safe than krylon.

Also, would it have been cheaper and easier to cut out the frame from wood than print and paint it?

sitnova (author)Void Schism2014-01-31

All valid points! The idea was to experiment with different finishes of the ABS to explore how much it can be transformed from the plastic look.

jds1969 (author)2014-01-31

Thank you.

mosmond (author)2014-01-30

pmn9393: Me too! Awesome project. The attention to detail makes ALL the difference!

pmn9393 (author)2014-01-30

Wow, you actually did such a good job i thought that the main picture actually was ceramic and wood and you use the 3d print as a mold or something.

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