Cleaning and Finishing Your 3D printed Parts

You printed your parts ... Now what?

Enhance Your Parts

Support Removal refers to removing the soluble support material that is printed to support the 3D-printed part.  This is mostly used/needed when you have a duel-headed Stratasys FDM printer or a Stratasys multi-headed Polyjet printer.   Support structures are often added to the model to allow you to print features like channels and/or overhangs on your part.    These supports need to be removed after printing.  

Resin Removal: In resin-based 3D printing, the printed part is either immersed in a container of liquid resin or is “grown” out of a tray of liquid resin.  After printing, excess uncured resin clings to the part. The part is usually washed in a cleaning solution and then post-curing in a UV light box to harden the part.

Surface Finishing:  Depending on the part requirements you may need to finish 3D-printed parts.  There are several ways this can be done.  

  • Smoothing: Smoothing techniques involve applying chemicals or heat to the 3D printed part’s surface to reduce the appearance of layer lines and create a smoother finish. For example, acetone vapor smoothing is often used for ABS prints, and certain chemicals or heat guns can be applied to other materials like PLA to achieve a smoother appearance.
  • Sanding: Sanding is a common technique to improve the surface finish of 3D printed parts. It involves using sandpaper with varying grits to smooth out imperfections, layer lines, and rough surfaces. Starting with coarse grit and progressing to finer grit sandpaper can help achieve a smoother and more polished finish.
  • Painting and Coating: Painting 3D printed parts can enhance their appearance and provide protection from environmental factors. Acrylic paints, spray paints, or specialized coatings can be used to achieve the desired aesthetic and functional results. These paints can also add color and texture to the parts.
  • Assembly: In some cases, multiple 3D printed parts need to be assembled to create larger parts. In this case, post-processing may involve gluing, hot air welding, or screwing parts together.


Bond, seal and beautify 3D printed parts

We understand your need to feel complete satisfaction when you finally gaze upon and touch a creation that you developed from the very beginning. Finding your finishing process is an important final step to perfecting your product or prototype. There are different methods and we can help you determine what is right for your model.

Whether you will be using Fused Deposition Molding (FDM) Technology or PolyJet Technology, we have information to help make the process easier.

PolyJet Technology Finishing Processes

Stratasys PolyJet 3D printed models are built up from layers so thin that they cannot be detected by the naked eye, giving them smooth, flawless surfaces that are easily mistaken for an end product. The models can be painted with off-the-shelf acrylic paints and lacquers or decorated as soon as they are printed, with no preparation or polishing necessary.

Because you can base decisions about your end products on accurate, unambiguous and compelling interaction with near-real products, just a little skill along with acrylic paint and lacquer is needed to achieve true product realism.

FDM Technology Finishing Processes

FDM parts are often considered to be ideal for prototyping, research and non-visible production applications. However, there’s a commonly held belief that FDM parts cannot be finished to the level required for models that will be photographed, displayed or be visible production parts.

Rest assured, they can be finished and painted to meet the cosmetic requirements for virtually any application. FDM technology prints models in production-grade thermoplastics, so you can sand, drill, glue and paint just as you would any plastic part. You can also bond 3D printed parts together to grow beyond the build-envelope when needed. There are several options when finishing an FDM printed product.

Contact one of our experts to learn about finishing techniques.

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