Introduction: Post-Processing 3D Printed Objects

' How to turn the ordinary FDM 3D prints into ' works of art ' : )

Hi. We are Pussykrew, an interdisciplinary duo, creating multimedia installations, 3D imagery, videos and 3D printed sculptures. Last year we decided to transform our digital creations into physical forms. For us 3D printing was the most accessible and easiest way to achieve what we wanted. We couldn't afford the industrial 3D printing service, therefore we decided to buy an FDM printer and find out how far we can push the limits of a desktop 3D printing.

With our 3D printed works we tried to mimic the 3D render or purely digital feeling. In our 3D animations we play a lot with glossy, holographic surfaces, deconstruction of a body shape, same with our 3D prints. We always work in a truly DIY approach, we like to learn new skills, our projects are lead by a personal experience.

For our sculptural works we used Ultimaker 2 printer and easy to find modeling and construction materials, such as sanding paper, primer, car body filler and different kinds of paint. In accessible and relatively cheap way we were able to turn the raw FDM prints into smooth and shiny sculptures, that were later exhibited at galleries and tech fairs around the globe. We received Artist of the Year Award 2014 at 3D Printshow London for our sculptural creations.

We gave several 3D printing workshops in Germany, UK and Poland, we are keen on sharing our 3D printing experiences and knowledge.

We are also running a 3D printing blog, where we post pictures of our sculptures and the process of making :

Step 1: Printing Large Objects in Few Parts

We used PLA filament from Ultimaker and XT Polyester from Colorfabb. XT Polyester is much more durable and harder than PLA, we would definitely recommend it for printing larger objects.

Our 3D printed sculptures are much bigger than the Ultimaker 2 printing volume. They vary between 25-45cm.

These objects were printed in few parts and than connected together with epoxy glue.

Some of the more complicated parts were printed with little gaps, so they fitted like a puzzle, but it's not necessary to print in this way, connecting the parts with the glue makes the object solid enough.

Step 2: Polishing 3D Printed Objects

To make your 3D printed objects smooth you will need

- sanding paper (wet sanding paper and dry sanding paper, from 600 to 2000 grit, depending on the surface of the print, don't use anything below 400 grit, you may damage the print. start from 600 grit, than move gradually to 1500, 2000. For sanding PLA and XT Polyester its good to use wet sanding paper)

- car putty (light body filler for fixing the holes, little gaps between glued parts, any imperfections. after fixing the print with the filler you need to carefully sand it)

- mini grinder (for print imperfections, polishing details etc.)

Step 3: Painting

We were using spray paint or airbrush.

Before painting an object, use primer or plastic filler in spray, it helps to smooth the surface of the print and adds a good base for the actual paint layer.

After the primer will dry, you can sand it again with wet sanding paper to smooth the paint layer.

We were repeating this process about several times, to make the object even smoother.

Polishing one sculptures usually takes few days, the object needs to dry after each layer of paint and wet sanding.

Step 4: Perfect Finish

To add the mirror shine effect to your object use glossy varnish.

We have used airbrush to add the gloss finish, but you can also use the one in spray.


Finishing process of a 3D print is a hard work, but definitely worth it ! : )

if you have any questions, you can always contact us and we will try to help

( info [ at ] niochnioszki [ dot ] net )

Good luck with your projects *



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