Introduction: Reviving a Sanded 3D Print's Color

About: I am a technical artist working in the game and software industry. 3D printing is a side hobby of mine.

If you 3d print, chances are you've sanded your 3d print's to remove the imperfections that can occur or to smooth out the print lines of the the object. One woe to sanding is that the object being sanded begins to lose its color. For many, some may then proceed to paint their sanded design to give back their print some color. Others may turn to harsh chemical based solutions or polishes to try and revive a printed design's original color.

With chemically based solutions and polishes, results may vary based on the plastic type and brand. Some solutions I've found online and have tried ended up not working for me with the brands of filament I use, leaving me a little disgruntled at the money I've spent for a procedure that ended up not working.

After some further research and experimentation I came across "poor man's wax". Better known as Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly. It is a cheaper solution to a lot of chemically based solutions and people have been using it as a polish for wood and plastic revival for many years now. Best of all, it is regarded as non-carcinogenic and is safe to use.

I've found that using petroleum jelly as a polish works on a variety of 3d print plastic types and filament brands I've tried the method on with the same consistent results.


  1. A pre-sanded 3D printed design.
  2. Cloth or towel.
  3. Container of Petroleum Jelly or Vaseline.

Step 1: Restoring the Color

  1. If you have not, sand down your printed piece(s). Grit doesn't matter. I personally will start with a 60 grit and work my way up to a 300 grit. You can either wet sand or dry sand the pieces but allow wet sanded pieces to dry completely before proceeding with the polish method.
  2. Once your printed pieces are prepped, cover the sanded areas with a medium coat of petroleum jelly and rub into the plastic with a cloth or towel. Let it sit for 24 hours. Wipe away any excess with a clean cloth and rub what remains into the plastic.And that's it! The petroleum jelly penetrates the plastic to reinvigorate and create a lasting color. Clear coat gloss spray can be applied later on afterwards if desired to give the print some shine.