Month: October 2016

Painting 3D Prints – Toys and supplies for children

I have a few school projects and I chose to do some charitable work for one of the projects. I decided to gather school supply donations and add some artistic value and the end product will be donated to needy children. While searching for ideas for the supplies, I came across these low polygon Pokemon which are pretty adorable. Can you tell which are painted and which were printed in their respective color? Charmander looks more like Barney with his friends. Squirtle and Pikachu were actually printed in clear PLA but I painted them (not a great job) and it sort of worked.

So how should we paint 3D prints? Well, it is always better to print the object in the color you want but when that isn’t a viable option, sanding and primer is king. Sanding will help smooth the superficial exterior but at the same time create a rough surface microscopically for primer to adhere to. Once you primer, this allows a good texture for you to apply acrylic paint. If you were in a rush like me, you can skip these steps and just layer on the paint. I applied a first layer, let the paint dry and then re-applied another layer. The second layer helped with color and I’m thinking about testing a third layer but if I did that, I should have just used primer in the first place.

These polygons were speed printed at 0.3 layer height and 15% infill so the quality suffers a bit but then again, they are low polygon models. I tried also printing Vi from League of Legends which is a difficult model to print and to me, it does look awesome although it is also in low resolution but I had gotten some negative feedback from Imgur. Also, a separate earlier print of Rammus, Bulbasaur, and Pikachu that went missing. The worst part is when you step on one of these.

OpenRC F1 Race Car

I’ve been working on a project I found off of Thingiverse called the “OpenRC Formula 1 Race Car”.

(stock photo from the OpenRC project)

This is a 1/10th scale model of a Formula 1 race car designed by Daniel “Barspin” Noree. He provides an in-depth guide on creating this vehicle with links to buy the internal electronics. RCs (Remote-controlled vehicles) are a new hobby for me besides owning older, cheaper prebuilt Tyco RCs like the “RebounD”. Good ol’ memories.Image result for tyco rc

This is what the vehicle looked like almost fully assembled before paint. The printer stopped extruding the rear tires but the majority of the prints are simple and came out well even in such a low resolution at .25 layer height. I would assume that .1 layer height would be more optimal since there are a lot of M3 screws and nuts needing to be added but this was initially a test print. This was also the first time attempting to paint a 3D printed object and most people say acrylic paint doesn’t adhere well to PLA were somewhat correct. Although I purchased automotive primer, I tested an initial layer of paint and the color was not very vibrant. For those who have the resources, it is better to print in the filament color of the print than printing then painting.

After a second layer of paint, the colors popped out a lot more. I ran out of white PLA and for some odd reason, many PLA sellers on Amazon do not ship to California except Hatch so I went with them on a silver PLA and black TPU for the front tires. The picture below is of PLA front and back tires but the front ones have a second coating of black acrylic paint

Most people have heard of TPU filament but only from the brand name, Ninjaflex. I am on a limited budget so Hatchbox having 1kg spool for around $28 seemed like a great deal and also the California seller issue limited my buying options. This was my first time working with TPU and with a 20% infill , speed of 20mm/s, and printing temperature set at 235C, the front tires came out great on the first attempt. The tire on the right is TPU while the left tire is PLA that has been painted. TPU is a ThermoPlastic Polyurethane which is a type of material that can a wide spectrum of elasticity and toughness which this material is extremely tough and will twist, bend, and bounce without losing its original shape.

Currently, the project is halted due to electrical issues (I blew up a receiver for the transmitter) but replacements are on the way and I am starting my next two projects: Charitable school supply design project and building a 3D printer mainly out of 3D printed parts, SnappyRepRap.

If you are interested in creating your own OpenRC car, check out the Thingiverse OpenRC F1 project. Daniel Noree also has multiple projects such as OpenRC Truggy, which you can find here

Please check out his website at

Revar’s SnappyRepRap

Hatchbox 1.75 TPU

3D Print Essentials

There are a couple of tools that can improve the 3D printing process or after-print process dramatically that many 3D print enthusiasts consider these tools a necessity. At first, I was skeptical because I didn’t want to spend more money but then I realized either my prints were:

  1. Not sticking to the plate
  2. Sticking to the plate so hard that it would take the force of King Arthur to pull it out
  3. Coming out well for 99% of it but needed some adjustments
  4. Too big or too small to fit a part
  5. Anything and everything else

So here goes the necessities which are ranked in order from what I think is most important to just a nice-ty (nice to have) rather than necessity.

1. Tape – $11 Amazon – 3M Scotch-Blue 2090 or $7 Walmart, Home Depot
$20 Amazon Kapton Polyimide

Scotch’s BLUE Painter’s Tape (Masking tape) or Kapton Tape. Although you could go for cheaper generic masking tape, you will realize how much of a headache it is when you can have a wider strip of tape such as the 2″ painter’s tape and there is one wider option specifically for 3D printing but it is priced 4x as expensive. Painter’s tape helps your print stick to the bed and allows it easier to remove your print. It is a cheap option, $12 from Amazon or about $7 from Walmart, Home Depot, etc., and will last you many prints.
Kapton Tape is another option that is designed to withstand heat up to 400 celsius and works better with ABS filament. Kapton tape is a polyimide tape developed by DuPont for use with circuit boards and other scenarios involving heat so if you are using a heated bed with ABS, it is a viable option but it is twice as expensive than painter’s tape.

2. Palette knives – $21 Amazon – Titan Tools Putty Knife Set or ~$8 Walmart for one palette knife

This is a pretty close tie for first as these things can save your fingernails from a lot of pain and help save some of your prints from snapping apart. It’s a good practice to use your palette knives to take off every print because it helps with inching prints that are stuck on the bed and good use of leverage.

3. Glue Stick – $2.50 for 4 Amazon – Elmer’s Glue Sticks, Same price at Walmart

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Glue-sticks help with adhesion to print bed, apply a layer before printing and it should help your print adhere.

The following are not necessities per se for printing but for after-print finishing touches

4. X-acto Knife – $3.50 Amazon – X-ACTO #1 Knife, Same price at Walmart

Helps cut off supports, trim off parts for finishing touches and pretty much any small job.

5. Heat gun – $21 Amazon – Wagner 1,200 Heat Gun

I got this idea from attempting to repair a Galaxy S6 phone; heat gun has many uses but it is a double-edged sword. It can do as much harm as it can do good. It softens up the print for you to mold it but it also makes it flimsy so gravity can have an unintended effect on your print. Also, heating your print will make it have a glossy look which can look nice our out of place.

6. Sandpaper – $6 Amazon – 3M Assorted Grit 5-Sheet

This will help with finishing touches but it can be a long process. If you are thinking of painting your product, sanding is the first step before you spray on a layer of primer than a layer of paint. A dremel can be handy if you find yourself needing to sand quite often.

7. Enclosure – DIY $150-$200 or $600 from custom manufacturers

Depending on where your 3D printer is located and what material you are using, an enclosure can help keep temperate control in your printing location. PLA filament can shrink up to 5% and large/long prints are susceptible to warping which can stop your print from adhering to the print bed or cause the dimensions of the printed product to be skewed. Another benefit is reduction in sound, depending on the material of the enclosure and if fully enclosed or not. Just be careful, a fully closed enclosure will keep insulate heat which could cause electronics to overheat and certain materials such as sound proofing materials maybe highly flammable.


This post was inspired by an article posted by 3D Printing For Beginners. For a list of links to purchase some of the items listed above, please visit their article at:

5 Things to Consider before buying a 3D Printer

With the buzz around 3D printers becoming affordable and accessible, there are a few things that are not generally known to first time 3D printer owners. 3D Printers have major nuisances that you have to commit to once purchased. It’s a large investment and you should know exactly what you are getting yourself into. Did you know 3D printers are loud and slow? Not quite the things you would think of.

Here are 5 major things you should know before getting a 3D printer:

  1. Noise level – Many 3D printers use 3 or more stepper motors to move their Z, Y, Z axes and with all these moving parts moving and vibrating, 3D printers can exceed 70 decibels which is about the equivalent of a small vacuum machine which means no long overnight prints in your bedroom but there are some solutions. You can buy or create a sound proof DIY box but this is one of the more costly and difficult options. Dampers such as Astrosyn dampers are a cheap solution that can be effective on many  Nema 17 stepper motors and many cheap aftermarket dampers are said to be effective as well.
  2. Speed – 3D printing is a slow additive process. People may not understand that it may take several hours to a day to print certain projects. A 6 inch symmetrical, empty cube can take take a couple of hours depending on how much infill and printer settings. To put this into perspective, the average smartphone is about 6 inches tall.
  3. DIY kits or pre-built? DIY is a great way to understanding how your printer works but it is also a good way to mess one up. With dozens of parts and the printing industry infamous for providing lackluster installation instructions, you can end up spending several hours longer than you expected. A pre-built 3D printer is usually  calibrated well and it is working since the manufacturer are adept at building their own products.
  4. Print material – PLA and ABS are the main two printing filaments but there have been many new additions for advanced users. PLA is the norm for hobbyists as it is cost effective and safe. ABS uses toxic material that is not safe for closed environments such as your room or with food materials.
  5. Build space – Most build sizes are measure in metric so a 150x150x150 is approximately 6 cubed inches. Will this be sufficient enough size to print everything you want? Not everything but it is the standard dimensions for an entry-level 3D printer.

After consideration of all these precautions, if you still are interested in buying a 3D printer, the next step is to consider which printer is right for you. Price is what most a lot of people first look at but prices have been steadily dropping as new printers come out each year and many DIY printers have come into the market. If you are serious about buying a 3D Printer, check out for some reviews then head 3DHubs article on the 3D Printer buying guide at

If you have more questions, please feel free to comment or send me a message.