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logoWhile the technology of 3D printing is used for a variety of very serious applications from helping with providing prostheses for children in developing countries to the distinct possibility of providing a future for colonizing in space, sometimes it’s okay to take a break from the heady goals and use the technology for simple, fun 3D printed projects. Adding to the enjoyment, many 3D models can be enhanced with myriad creative finishing touches — from the most simple to the most detailed assembling and painting.

Considering that not too long ago we didn’t even have, or in some cases perceive of, the capacity to digitally design and produce items directly from our desktops, it would seem that the design options are limitless. And as the making community grows, so does the market for products and tools associated with 3D printing. Luckily, with the open source, sharing concept so many makers embrace, you can almost always find a video or blog explaining the latest and greatest fun new project.

chrome

Once your design is hot off the 3D printer, it’s time to decide what the next step is for producing a piece that looks professional. Some 3D models require intricate details and painting, while others can be coated, as with the Instructable provided by Gold Touch, Inc., a company from Cleveland, Ohio which provides chemicals for jewelry plating, specializing in items like non-cyanide gold.

For a 3D printed project featuring gothic 3D printed skulls, Gold Touch decided to coat them completely in chrome. They used one of their company’s own products, called Cosmichrome, which can be applied to items of virtually any size, and provides the look of gold, chrome, copper, or nickel. Tints can also be applied to the top coat of Cosmichrome to provide a multitude of hues.

A combination of plating and paint, Cosmichrome allows for finishing on:ch1

  • Metals
  • Ceramics
  • Plastics
  • Glass
  • Wood

As with many finishing projects, ventilation and covering the skin is very important. Gold Touch states that to apply the Cosmichrome, you will need a paint booth. Using hot glue (even more fun), they also placed the skulls on mounts to make application of the coating easier. After cleaning the 3D printed parts with a toothbrush and alcohol, and coating them with epoxy primer, they left them to dry until the next day.

The base coat was applied, already giving the skulls an impressive look due to the gloss. Using three layers, they were left again to dry overnight. Gold Touch allows for the idea of baking it to dry the project faster, but there is a risk of the 3D print becoming distorted with that process, so they recommend erring on the side of caution — after all, you’ve come this far, why hurry the process and destroy your print in the process?

At this point, the true fun starts with the spraying process, so get covered up and take it to the paint booth, where you can begin what Gold Touch refers to as the “plating process.” They used a mixture of compressed air and the solution, rinsing during each step, using a fan to dry the piece before applying the top coat.

Two wet coats are applied with the top coat, which bonds all the other coats together. They recommend letting it dry overnight before handling. You do have the choice of producing a tinted chrome look, by adding tint to the top coat.

Is this a coating you are interested in using on one of your 3D printed projects? What are your favorite ways to add simple finishing touches to your 3D prints? Tell us about it in the 3D Print & Chrome forum over at 3DPB.com.

base coat

Applying the base coat

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