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Can You Spray Paint PLA Filament? The Definitive Answer

PLA filament is one of the best materials to use in 3D printing, as it is easy to print and cools fast. Though this bio-plastic comes in various colors, you may want to enhance the look of some printed objects by painting them. But is it possible to use spray paint on PLA filament models?

You can spray paint PLA filament to give your objects a unique and uniform appearance. PLA filament is compatible with most paints, including acrylics, oil, and cellulose spray paints. Since paint can adhere to them firmly and dry fast, the spray painting method is a perfect choice.

The rest of this article will explain other topics related to this question in great detail. These include factors to consider before spray painting your PLA Filament models, how to paint your 3D objects and the best spray paint to use on PLA Filament.

What To Consider Before Spray Painting Your Models

As mentioned earlier, spray painting is an ideal method of enhancing the look of PLA filament prints. However, before you jump-start your spray painting process, there are a few essential things to consider. 

Here are four key things to always look out for before spray painting on PLA filament:

  • Location: It’s advisable to work in an environment away from strong wind. The wind may interfere with your spraying process, as the paint particles may blow against your spraying direction. Moreover, ensure you cover all objects around the area. Taking this precaution is essential because the paint may stick to the items if the wind blows in their direction. So, always find a calm location for applying colors to your models.
  • Preparation: You shouldn’t rush to paint your models before ensuring that the print surfaces are clean. So, take your time to wipe away any dust on your prints that may have resulted from sanding. A clear surface will increase the paint’s adherence force, making it stick firmly.
  • Type of spray paint: Many spray paints are available in the market. However, choosing an ideal paint can be difficult, as they come in different colors and transparency. For instance, some have glitters while others do not. Also, some spray paints take a long period to dry while others take the shortest time. So, be well informed on what kind of paint you need before purchasing it.
  • Safety: Some spray paints contain toxic products. Therefore, ensure that you take precautions by wearing protective gear such as gloves. Moreover, you can wear a respiratory mask to keep you safe from breathing in toxic gases.

How To Spray Paint Your PLA Filament Prints

Proper preparation is crucial in any spray-painting procedure. So, before diving in, you gather all the supplies you need, including sandpaper, spray paint, spray primer, and a hanging cord come in handy. To be on the safer side, also ensure that you wear the safety garments we’ve looked at previously.

When your prints are ready for painting, here is a step-by-step guide on how to spray-paint them:

  1. Hang your model. Tie a cord around your object and hang it in an open space. Suspending it will ensure that all the surfaces get painted evenly. And you can handle it easily in this position.
  2. Apply a primer (this applies only to paints with no primer solution). Apply a spray primer on your model’s surfaces slowly. Add a few more layers of the filler to your print and allow it to dry for 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Sand the object. Using sandpaper, rub the print to create a smooth surface, as primers usually leave a rough texture on objects.
  4. Start spray painting. Hold your spray can and point towards the direction your model is hanging. Then, start spraying on the surfaces in slow motion with even strokes, ensuring that you do not leave out some parts.
  5. Leave it to dry. Some paints may dry fast, while others may take longer. But you can leave your model in that position overnight for it to dry well.

Note: Ensure that you read the manufacturer’s instructions on the spray can before using it. You can also check out this video on YouTube illustrating the process of spray painting 3D prints:

The Best Spray Paints To Use on PLA Filaments

Since many spray paints are available, choosing an ideal one may be confusing. So, before settling for any spray paint in the market, ensure you know which color suits your models. Moreover, we have highlighted some of the best spray paints (all available on Amazon.com) to ease your selection.

Rust-Oleum’s Painter’s Touch Spray Paint (available on amazon.com)

It’s a high-quality spray paint to use in 3D printing, as it leaves your models with a distinctive look and glossy finish. You don’t have to wait for long for Rust-Oleum spray paint to dry since it dries in twenty minutes. So, this saves time, especially if you’re planning to give the model to someone urgently.

Many 3D printing hobbyists and experts prefer this spray paint because it has the primer and paint in one solution (a 2-in-1 product). Therefore, you don’t have to apply a primer to your model before painting. Moreover, you can paint as many prints as possible.

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch is also available in several colors: black, blue, modern mint, and semi-gloss clear. It also has an acrylic, enamel, and oil-based coat that can serve you for years. And, it’s available in many stores at pocket-friendly prices.

Tamiya Spray Lacquer (available on amazon.com)

If you want your prints to dry quickly, go for the Tamiya Spray Lacquer. This spray paint can cure on time, making it possible to paint many models in the shortest time. Moreover, a can of Tamiya spray is enough for you to paint these prints.

Do you want to coat your objects even after spray painting without reacting quickly? You don’t have to worry because Tamiya Spray Lacquer got you this time. However, this paint does not have a primer solution, so you will have to go through the extra step of applying a primer before painting your models.

Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint (available on amazon.com)

It’s an all-in-one multipurpose spray paint that comes in handy when painting PLA filament models. Krylon spray paint has a higher adhesion force and dries in 20 minutes. It’s also applicable on various surfaces and has rust-resistant properties.

Krylon Fusion All-In-One spray paints have a primer in the solution. Therefore, you will not apply some on your model’s surfaces. Also, they’re available in various colors and finishes, making them ideal for different preferences.

Another essential property about this paint is that you can spray it in any direction. Hence, requiring no special skills to apply the paint. The paint also features a big button spray tip to ease the process.

Conclusion

PLA filament is a versatile 3D printing material. Apart from its ease of printing, it is also compatible with several paint types. Therefore, you can spray paint your print models to make them more attractive and durable.