How to Polish PLA 3D Prints – Smooth, Shiny, Glossy Finish

PLA is often the go-to choice for 3D printing enthusiasts. Naturally, many are curious about how to enhance the appearance of their 3D creations to achieve a smooth, radiant, and lustrous appeal. Dive into this guide to elevate the aesthetics of your PLA masterpieces. Dive in to discover the secrets of achieving that picture-perfect PLA shine and smoothness.


Steps to Achieve a Lustrous Finish on Your PLA 3D Prints:

1. Perfecting Your Print with Sanding
2. Embracing the Magic of Filler Primer
3. Giving Life with Polyurethane Spray
4. The Wonders of Glazing Putty or Its Airbrushed Application
5. Revel in the Shine with UV Resin
6. The Artistic Touch of Rub ‘n Buff

1. Perfecting Your Print with Sanding:
One of the foundational steps to showcase your PLA 3D print’s elegance is through meticulous sanding. Though it demands patience and time, the results are breathtaking. For the best outcome, you can cycle through sandpapers with varying grits.

Kick off with a 120 grit, step up to 200 grit, and finalize the touch with a delicate 300 grit. The smoother the finish you desire, the higher grit you should consider.

A hot tip: If you spot those pesky white streaks post-sanding, a gentle touch with a heat source like a lighter can magically erase them. Just be gentle – overheating could warp your beautiful creation!

2. Embracing the Magic of Filler Primer:
Filler primer can be your ally in combatting those unwanted layer lines, making your 3D object look as smooth as porcelain. One top choice among enthusiasts is the automotive filler primer – with many singing praises about Rust-Oleum Automotive 2-in-1 Filler. Its application can mask nearly 90% of layer lines, providing a canvas that’s both smooth and ready for paint.

3. Giving Life with Polyurethane Spray:
To endow your PLA pieces with a smooth, glossy texture, consider using polyurethane spray. One favorite in the 3D printing circles is the Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane Spray. Its judicious use can bring out a mesmerizing sheen while preserving the intricate details of your print.

4. The Wonders of Glazing Putty or Its Airbrushed Application:
Airbrushing glazing putty is like adding a couture touch to your PLA piece. Remember, when airbrushing, you’ll need to dilute the putty in acetone, so ensure you’re equipped with safety gear. If airbrushing isn’t your style, you can manually apply the glazing putty – like the renowned Bondo Glazing and Spot Putty. It’s an exceptional choice to smoothen out and ready your prints for the limelight.

5. Revel in the Shine with UV Resin:
A layer of clear 3D printer resin, cured under a UV light, can instantly add a veneer of polished sophistication to your creation. The key is to apply the resin following the layer lines, ensuring a seamless look. Once set, the UV resin can dramatically elevate the overall look, concealing any layer lines and making your piece stand out.

6. The Artistic Touch of Rub ‘n Buff:
Rub ‘n Buff is an artist’s secret weapon. This wondrous paste, when gently applied over your object, bestows a radiant glow. It’s available in a gamut of shades and metallic hues, providing that final artisanal touch to your PLA print. Many have found it to be the crowning touch, especially on pieces like 3D printed replicas.