I’m having a blast with my new 3D Printer, and the first thing I’m printing is jewelry. Tiaras, necklaces, pendants, LED jewelry enclosures.. all the perfectly sized things I’ve always wanted but haven’t been able to make until now.
There’s just one problem… this printer prints ABS plastic. White plastic jewelry is just… not… quite what I’m going for. There are lots of colors available but they all look like plastic. I want them to glisten and gleam like gold or sparkle and shine like silver.
I tried 5 different kinds of paint on this stuff to see what results I liked best.
Rustoleum Metallic Gold Spray Paint: This is shiny. It’s super uber shiny. It shows a lot of detail– the texture of the model really comes through. However, it’s spray paint.. there is no carefully painting just part of the model without a lot of tedious masking. And, well, it looks like gold spray paint. BUT IT IS SHINY!
Liquid Leaf Renaissance Gold: I had high hopes for this one. It’s thick and opaque and dries fast. It’s impossible to clean up if you spill or get it on you. But the color turned out.. well, sort of dull and orangey. It looks like painted plastic. Not really worth it.
Testors Copper Enamel: This was my favorite of the lot. It’s shiny but not SO shiny that it looks completely fake. It’s easy to apply (I used a q-tip since I don’t want to bother with turpentine) and I can cover just the top layer of printing while leaving the lower layer blank for texture. It’s cheap too. This is made for painting model cars so I guess they know how to make plastic look like metal. Win.
Liquitex Bronze Acrylic: I didn’t have high hopes for the acrylic, and therefore it did not disappoint me. To be fair, this is a bronze rather than a gold but I’ve never really had a great gold acrylic. Acrylic paint is easy to use, easy to clean up, but just doesn’t pack a lot of punch.
Rub n’Buff Antique Gold: This is a wax based rub that is supposed to make wood and other porous materials gleam like gold. ABS isn’t really porous, but I rubbed n’ buffed n’ rubbed n’buffed and it turned out about like the Liquid Leaf. Not my favorite, and with all that rubbin’ n’ buffin’ it’s hard to be precise.
Vitrail Gold Glass Paint: I tried this one because I like putting LEDs inside my pendants and I wanted to test out something translucent. This paint is translucent all right. It’s really thin and kind of runny and looks like gold paint, and not like metal at all. I could see using this as an undercoat on the lower layers of ABS, to let the light through, but then covering the rest of the pendant in enamel or something else. Didn’t blow me away.
I didn’t bother with oil paint or watercolors since they’re really not made to be metallic. End result: I like the enamel the best, and it’s also the cheapest so that’s a win. It’s easy to get and comes in thousands of colors. For big jobs the metallic spray paint works great, but for most stuff I’ll probably be using enamel.