AMS Spring 2023

Use Nail Polish to Create Artistic Accents on your 3D Prints, Like These Dominoes

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dom1Have you ever 3D printed something and then needed some extra color on your print job to make it look finished? Many people use Sharpies for this kind of accenting, but perhaps you should consider using fingernail polish for a job like this. The project featured here did just this. Nail polish was used to accent the 3D printed dominoes designed by “Hercanstein,” aka Brian Murphy. These dominoes were designed by Murphy using Solidworks Student version, then 3D printed and decorated by Desi Quintans. What you get as a result is a colorful and professional set of dominoes that will make you want to play the game immediately.

Quintans is a PhD candidate in Sydney, Australia who shares all kinds of projects and tips on his website. Back in January, Quintans began documenting the process of coloring white filament using Sharpies, essentially making homemade colored filament. So, as you can see, colored 3D printing is something that appears to preoccupy Quintans’ 3D printing experimentation. Next, on the same website, Quintans posts about using nail polish to help accent objects with recessed lettering or divots so you can see them better.

Using six different colors to mark the domino divots, Quintans states that nail polish works the best for a job like this because it is inexpensive, easy to find, durable, and it comes in many different glosses and finishes ranging from matte, swirled, glittery, and even thermochromatic (responding to heat). Another benefit of using nail polish is that it dries quickly. The nail polish set Quintans purchased for the job came with 16 different colors and a brush and pen to use for application. For the job of filling in small divots, the pen works very well because it allows so much precision. Quintans explains that a large dot of color was placed in each divot “so that it was beading above the surface of the domino, and it subsided into a thick coating along the surface of the domino.”

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And that’s about all there is to it if you would like to try accenting 3D prints with nail polish. Quintans does leave us with some parting tips. Remember to mix your paint/polish before applying it. If you need to fill a channel with a color, then use a backwards and forwards scrubbing motion: “Place a dot, push it backwards. It helps get the paint into the corners and onto the sides of the channel.” Also, apply a thick layer of polish. It will shrink and coat the surface as it dries. Finally, keep in mind that polish may not work on ABS because of the polish’s solvents, so if you are planning to print with ABS filament and accent with nail polish, keep the possible damage factor in mind.

So now that you know how to paint with polish, I am sure you can find some print job that needs a colorful touch up. Happy Polishing! Are you going to try this? Tell us about it in the 3D Print Accents with Nail Polish forum over at 3DPB.com.

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