Give 3D Printed Plastic A Well-Worn Metal Look

Affordable 3D printers let us turn ideas into physical reality without a big expensive workshop, but with their power came some disadvantages. The nature of FDM printers impart layer lines and nozzle ridges in the parts they produce. They can be minimized with optimized print settings, but never eliminated. [Emily Velasco] loves the power of 3D printing but not how the parts look. So she put in the effort to make 3D-printed plastic look like distressed metal and showed us how she did it. (Video also embedded after the break.)

This video is a follow-up to her Pet Eye project in response to feedback on Twitter. She had mentioned that the  salvaged metal box for Pet Eye wasn’t quite big enough to hold everything, so she had to extend its internal volume with a 3D print box on the back. It fit in so well that the offhand comment surprised many people who wanted to know more about how it was done. So she designed a demonstration cube covered with mechanical characteristics, and gave us this walkthrough of its transformation.

Similar techniques can be found in other fields like fine scale modeling. But historically those fields did not have to deal with the challenge posed by layer lines and ridges of 3D printed plastic. In any case we love seeing this cross-pollination: just as 3D printed parts are used to customize fine scale models, we can incorporate well-aged metal finishing techniques to 3D printed parts. It’s another tool in our box for 3D print finishing alongside tools like heat and even salt.

13 thoughts on “Give 3D Printed Plastic A Well-Worn Metal Look

      1. Heard that too, but never tried it cause I feared it might stain or alter the pigment. Plus who doesn’t hate it when you squeeze the mustard and nothing but water comes out, even when you shake the hell out of it!

          1. Houston, we have a wise guy here, lol, it’s not grey poupon, you uppity printer, us likely people use the plastic squeeze stuff ,:)

    1. Indeed it will be great, I used Skyrim creation kit to extract the meshes from the game and began printing a “full size” dungeon for gaming and display
      Always on the lookout for new painting tips.
      I’ve used this technique not only for metal, but different stone looks, really works well on a lot of different things

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