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A Lazy Mans Guide To Painting PLA
Here's a daily how-to on my technique for painting my droid printed in PLA.

This is not an end all, be all guide to painting and finishing, it works well for me and easily passes the 5' foot test (the distance most people will be when looking at your droid).

I'm painting the center foot shell here, but it's the same process used for all leg and foot parts I have printed so far.

To make your life easier, get an orbital sander something like this:

[Image: attachment.php?aid=72]

You'll also want to get a stack of the different grades of sandpaper you will use.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=73]

Since I'm lazy, and I don't plan on having an automotive finish when done, I only use two types of paper. A 120 grit for the initial take down, and then a 320 grit for everything after that. I wouldn't start much larger than 120 grit, too course and you heat up the PLA and it starts coming off in clumps. You can go finer, you will end up with a smoother and glossier finish, but the final product works for me here - and that's all that counts  [Image: tongue.png]

Attached Files
.jpg   sandpaper.jpg (Size: 146.51 KB / Downloads: 536)
.jpg   sander.jpg (Size: 154.9 KB / Downloads: 539)
Here's the piece before any sanding has been done:

[Image: attachment.php?aid=74]

This part was printed at .3 res and you can see the print lines in front, but I've already applied glazing putty on the seams and curves.

This will need to dry over night.

Attached Files
.jpg   start.jpg (Size: 155.35 KB / Downloads: 518)
After the glazing putty had dried completely, I use a 120 grit sanding pad do my initial sanding of the piece.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=75]

You can see the front and back print lines have come out pretty good with just the first sanding. Seams and print lines on the curves are still pretty visible.

Now I start with the primer.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=76]

You want to make sure you use a filler primer.  Get the inexpensive stuff, you will just be sanding most of it off any ways.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=77]

After shooting it with primer, the front (and back) is already looking smoother and even the curves and seams have started smoothing out but will need some more putty.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=78]

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Filler primer usually dries pretty quickly. After an hour or so, I replace the sanding pad with a 320 grit sheet and sand down the primer.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=81]

The primer helps point out the low spots.

I add some more putty to the areas that need it.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=82]

And I let it dry over night.

Attached Files
.jpg   day2_sanding.jpg (Size: 154.53 KB / Downloads: 500)
.jpg   day2_primer4.jpg (Size: 65.9 KB / Downloads: 482)
.jpg   day2_primer3.jpg (Size: 87.54 KB / Downloads: 469)
.jpg   day2_primer2.jpg (Size: 76.39 KB / Downloads: 499)
.jpg   day2_primer.jpg (Size: 126.47 KB / Downloads: 501)
.jpg   filler_primer.jpg (Size: 96.29 KB / Downloads: 492)
.jpg   day2.jpg (Size: 115.63 KB / Downloads: 518)
.jpg   day2_putty.jpg (Size: 133.62 KB / Downloads: 487)
Still using 320 grit sandpaper, sand down the putty.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=83]

It's looking pretty good. One more coat of primer.

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No print lines visible on the front or back. Curves and seams looking nice and smooth.

Let it dry for a hour or so and sand it down.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=85]

If you want a really smooth finish, this is where you would start using a primer you can wet sand, and using 400 - 600 grit wet sand paper between coats to achieve an even smoother surface.

But for me, it's time for some paint. I used a satin white enamel.

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Applied 3 light coats of the white (20 - 30 minutes between coats) and let it dry over night.

Attached Files
.jpg   day3_primer.jpg (Size: 126.13 KB / Downloads: 490)
.jpg   day3.jpg (Size: 132.65 KB / Downloads: 472)
.jpg   day3_sanding.jpg (Size: 112.11 KB / Downloads: 493)
.jpg   paint.jpg (Size: 131.75 KB / Downloads: 459)
After drying over night, you have a nice smooth finish ready for details.

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Attached Files
.jpg   done1.jpg (Size: 103.15 KB / Downloads: 460)
.jpg   done2.jpg (Size: 107.39 KB / Downloads: 478)
It becomes a Ground hog day after a while, fill, sand, fill sand, repeat and repeat again until you forget when it started and then paint, yeah!!! hang on there is another part I forgot to sand and fill and paint lol!!!!.
Nice tutorial! The glazing putty is the best way to go IMHO. On my dome, I started with the 2-part Bondo, which wasn't as convenient or easy as the glazing putty for the exact same end result.
This is great info and pretty much the exact way that I remove print lines on my models and helmets that I print... I use a combo of an orbital and a mouse sander for the smaller parts. And then for really fiddly detail, it's a combo of hand sanding and using sanding sticks...The glazing putty is really wonderful and easy to work with since it comes in a tube.

I might have to try the wet sanding technique to get those butter smooth finishes.

Great tutorial.
I really appreciate this tutorial! Thanks! When spreading the Glazing putty, what do you think works best? Can I use my finger or is it not safe for skin contact?
I use my finger. It's says on the container, not for prolonged skin contact, I just make sure and wash it off right away. Comes off with warm water and dishwashing detergent.

I was using thin non-latex gloves but I'd have to use a few pair each job (because the putty eats through them) and it just became more of hassle than it was worth - since I was getting it on my hands anyways.

Been playing with bondo, in one way or another, for 35+ years and haven't died yet.

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