Introduction: Add a Hand Forged Metal Appearance to 3D Prints Using Elmer's Glue

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Generally, metal filled filament is the quickest way to add a metallic appearance to your 3D prints, but such specialized filament can cost upwards of $40 a pound.

This Instructable teaches you how to add a hand forged metallic appearance to any 3D print by applying metal powder directly to a 3D print using Elmer's Glue. The substrate can be printed using regular filament you may have lying around and the metal powder can be obtained for just a few dollars.

This method will result in a rough surface and is ideal for larger objects where you want a rough, hammered appearance. It is not very practical for objects that have fine details.

Step 1: Obtain the Materials

You will need to purchase a fine metal powder. These can be founding online or at a local store catering to sculptors. The screenshot shows some examples of searching for "copper powder" or "bronze powder" on eBay.

Copper, bronze or iron powders give good results.

You will also need the following tools:

  • An artist's palette knife or plastic card for mixing and spreading
  • Plastic spoons
  • An empty lid or container for mixing
  • A bottle of Elmer's glue
  • A disposable air filter mask
  • Paper towels
  • Extra-fine steel wool

Step 2: Mix the Paste

You want a thick paste of metal and glue mixed at a 2:1 ratio.

Scoop out a spoonful of the metal powder and then squirt out a blob of the glue about half the size. Then, use the spoon or painter's knife to mix the glue and the powder. One technique that works well is using the painter's knife to scrape up the glue and press it down onto the powder, repeating this process until the paste is well mixed and there is no more loose powder.

During this step, it is advisable to wear a mask in case some of the particles become airborne.

Step 3: Spread the Paste on Your 3D Print

Spread the paste in a thick coat on your 3D print using the artist's knife. If you want to coat all sides of your print, you may need to do it in sections, allowing the paste to dry a few minutes on one side before moving to the next.

Once you are done, clean up of hands and tools can be done using warm soapy water.

Step 4: Polish the 3D Print!

After allowing to dry 24 hours. Once dry, the print will take on a clay-like matte appearance. In order to bring out the shine, rub extra fine steel wool on your print until it has a nice metallic surface!

Step 5: Optional: Add a Patina to Your Prints!

There are various techniques for adding a patina to a metallic 3D print. Although these methods are usually used with prints which were done with metal filled filaments, these same methods can be applied to prints that have been coated with metal powder and Elmer's glue!

In the above picture, I brushed ammonia and table salt to the bottom half of a copper coated print, put it in a plastic container and left it outside to corrode for a few minutes. The end result is dramatic and appears like an artifact that was sitting on the bottom of the ocean for ages!

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