Resin is a durable, versatile, non-reactive material widely used by 3D printing enthusiasts since resin is perfect for printing colored objects and complex models. However, the resin can be dull or have a matte surface with slight imperfections. So, how do you make resin prints smooth and shiny?
Here’s how to make resin prints glossy or shiny:
- Sand and buff your prints.
- Apply a spray coat of resin gloss sealer spray.
- Polish your prints after sanding.
- Use resin filler and coating.
- Use mineral oil as polish.
- Use an acrylic spray for finishing.
- Use toothpaste for polishing.
- Use automotive wax for buffing.
This article will give you a detailed overview of the different ways to make resin prints shiny. I’ll teach you the many ways to add gloss to your resin objects and compare them to help you decide which method is best for you and your resin.
1. Sand and Buff Your Prints
Sanding and buffing resin prints can create a shiny, lustrous finish.
You can use a cloth to buff manually, but using a buffing wheel significantly speeds up the process.
Sanding helps remove the fine lines in the resin object and gives it a smoother finish, and buffing will remove dust particles, leaving you with a glossy print. It’s also less time-consuming than polishing and leaves the material with a natural shine.
Before you can buff the resin print, you’ll have to smooth out the surface with sandpaper. Start sanding with rough sandpaper and transition down to fine-grit sandpaper for finishing. To sand the resin print, follow these steps:
- Step 1: Use 200 grit sandpaper to even out the surface. Take care when using coarse sandpaper since it might alter the object’s shape. This step will help remove major imperfections from the print and give it the correct form.
- Step 2: Use 400-800 grit sandpaper to give the surface a smooth touch and remove minor imperfections. After this step, you’ll notice that the resin print has already started to get a smooth look, but you can further improve it.
- Step 3: Use 1000 grit wet sandpaper for the final touch. Make sure the material has a smooth, polished look and there are no fine lines or imperfections. Once this step is done, you can move on to buffing.
As mentioned previously, there are two ways to buff a resin print:
- Apply buffing compound with a cloth.
- Use a polishing or buffing machine.
It’s much easier (and quicker) to use a buffing machine, although you can’t use all buffing machines on complex resin prints. I would recommend either the Torq Chemical Guys Polishing Kit or the DEWALT Variable Speed Buffer (both available on Amazon.com) for resin, which you can also use for polishing.
2. Apply a Spray Coat of Resin Gloss Sealer Spray
Gloss Resin spray can improve the gloss and shine of the resin print. It can also reduce any blemishes on the object’s surface. However, if the print has more visible defects, you’ll have to apply a resin liquid coat instead.
To apply resin gloss spray, first make sure the resin print’s surface is smooth. You’ll need to sand it down before using the spray to avoid lumpy layer lines. Also, make sure the surface is clean and remove any dust from the object before spraying.
It’s best to apply at least three coats of spray for a smooth, shiny finish. Let the resin spray dry after each coat and keep it away from dust and dirt until it dries completely. Once the spray is dry, wipe it with a clean cloth, and the surface will be shiny.
Resin spray is an easy way to apply a glossy surface to your resin prints. It comes in many colors and doesn’t require specialized machinery to use. However, it can be sticky and requires special care to avoid catching dirt and dust. You’ll also need to smooth the surface with sandpaper before spraying, which can be a tedious process.
3. Polish Your Prints After Sanding
Polishing your resin prints can give it a shinier finish, provided you use the correct polish. However, polishing only works well with fine sandpaper. You’ll have to spend more time polishing your 3D resin prints, but the result is worth the effort.
The sanding process when polishing the resin is quite different from the sanding methods for sprays. You can apply the spray in several coats to cover any blemishes, but the same isn’t possible with polishing. To achieve a smooth and shiny surface with polish, you’ll need to ensure that the surface is 100% smooth and free from imperfections.
Use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface before polishing the resin. If you notice any blemishes on the 3D resin print before polishing, you can cover them with a resin filler and sand them down once more. Use a polishing machine to achieve a sparkling, shiny finish on the resin print.
However, remember that polishing the material can take time and only works with objects that have smoother surfaces. Polishing the resin will give it a more natural finish than spray or resin coating, making it ideal for resin jewelry and other collectible items.
4. Use Resin Filler and Coating
Resin filler and coating can give 3D resin prints a lustrous surface if applied evenly on the object’s surface. Resin filler is also one of the most effective ways of having a natural, glossy resin finish without sanding or polishing.
To achieve a glossy finish with resin coating:
- Make sure the surface is even.
- Fill any cracks or lines with a resin coating to smooth out the surface.
- Apply the resin liquid with a dropper or dip the material in the resin liquid and leave it to harden.
- For faster results, use UV light to harden the resin.
Resin coating is perfect for a shiny finish on smaller resin prints and objects with more edges. However, it can be costly and unsuitable for experiments, models, or industrial uses.
5. Use Mineral Oil as Polish
Mineral oil is a colorless, orderless, toxin-free liquid that you can use to achieve a shiny finish on resin prints. Apply mineral oil after you’ve sanded down the material. Mineral oil won’t have the same sticky effect as resin spray or coating, making it ideal for polishing resin.
When using mineral oil as polish, make sure the surface is clean. So, you should use a wet cloth to remove any dust and dirt. When dry, polish the print by applying a few drops of mineral oil onto its surface and rubbing it in a circular motion.
While mineral oil is an excellent polishing substance, its effect will disappear over time. If you’re polishing a decoration piece or other object that you will not handle regularly, use mineral oil as polish. Otherwise, look for a polish with a long-lasting effect.
You can choose from a wide range of mineral oils to polish your resin prints. Still, Murphy’s Mineral Oil (available on Amazon.com) is recommended for its unreactivity and smooth effect.
6. Use An Acrylic Spray for Finishing
Acrylic paint is one of the best finishing materials to make resin glossy. It’s durable, easy to apply, and won’t damage the object’s surface. Acrylic spray paint is ideal for getting a different colored effect on the resin surface, but you can always opt for a clear coat.
Before spraying the object with acrylic paint, prime the surface first. To prime the resin surface for spraying, sand it down with 1000 Grit sandpaper and ensure it’s clean. Then, apply a coat of spray primer and sand it down with medium-grit sandpaper before applying another coat of primer.
If you have regular acrylic paint, you can apply it to the surface of your resin prints with a paintbrush.
However, for a smoother, glossy finish, use acrylic spray instead. In either case, you’ll need to apply several layers of the paint for ideal results. Wait for the first coat to dry out before applying the second and so on.
If you need a reliable acrylic spray, I recommend Aleene’s Acrylic Gloss Finish Spray (available on Amazon.com). It always adheres well to my resin prints, and it leaves a gleaming finish.
Acrylic paint is perfect for making 3D Resin prints shiny, but it can be time-consuming. You’ll also have to be careful not to handle the object until the paint dries.
7. Use Toothpaste for Polishing
If you’re willing to think outside of the box when polishing your resin prints, try using toothpaste as a polishing material.
Toothpaste is a mild abrasive that can remove slight imperfections from the surface of materials. So, if your toothpaste makes your teeth white and shiny, it may have the same effect on resin prints!
To achieve a smooth, polished finish with toothpaste, you can apply it directly or use it in a solution. To create a toothpaste polishing solution, simply mix the toothpaste with water and add some baking soda. You can apply this solution manually with a polishing cloth or sponge or use it with a polishing machine.
When using toothpaste as polish, avoid rubbing it too hard since it can cause scratches. Also, don’t worry if the first coat doesn’t make the object shiny. Just as with other polishing materials, you’ll need to apply several layers of toothpaste and some elbow grease to achieve the perfect shine.
8. Use Automotive Wax for Buffing
Automotive wax or car polish is one of the most effective materials to achieve a shiny surface on your resin prints.
Car wax is a mild abrasive, which makes it ideal for buffing. When buffing the material with car wax, use a cloth if the object is small and has many edges. Otherwise, a buffing machine will help you save time and energy.
Only use car wax to remove mild scratches and shine the object’s surface. You should only use it as a finishing product rather than a smoothing material. Also, using high-quality wax will give you better results.
Here are the top two car wax brands to use for resin polishing, both products are available on Amazon.com:
- Turtle Wax Polishing Compound and Scratch Remover: As one of the trusted brands in car wax, Turtle Wax will remove scratches and give your resin a shiny finish.
- Chemical Guys Banana Spray Wax: This wax comes in a spray bottle and is easy to apply, making it perfect for smaller or complex resin prints.
Why Do Resin Prints Become Dull and Cloudy?
Resin prints become cloudy because of impurities in the resin filament. It could also become dull if left in the sun, handled too much, or exposed to moisture during printing. In some cases, resins naturally have a matte or murky color.
Resin prints don’t naturally have a glossy finish, which is why you’ll either have to polish them or apply a layer of glossy resin to achieve a shiny finish. Polishing and buffing work best for clear resin prints, and spray painting is better to add color to the resin material.
Which Method Is Best for Making Resin Prints Shiny?
The best method for making resin prints shiny is to spray them with gloss sealer spray. The spray will give the 3D resin print an additional layer of protection and won’t scratch easily.
It’s also the fastest method to add a glossy finish to the resin surface, and you can color the print according to your preference.
However, polishing the print will give it a more natural shine, and buffing it will remove scratches and minor imperfections.
Still, it’s up to you to use what you have available to give your resin the desired shiny finish.
Some people add clear nail polish or enamel paint to the resin for a colored effect, but this isn’t recommended. It’s messy, streaky, and won’t give the print a long-lasting shine.
There are several ways to make resin 3D prints glossy, including polishing and buffing, applying a coat of resin spray, using acrylic paint or resin filler, and using other materials.
Before you polish or spray the resin print, you’ll need to make the surface smooth. You can do this by sanding it down and applying a primer (in the case of acrylic paint). So, there’s no need to settle with dull 3D prints when you can make them stand out with a glossy surface.
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I started 3D printing since 2013 and have learned a lot since then. Because of this I want to share my knowledge of what I have learned in the past years with the community. Currently I own 2 Bambulab X1 Carbon, Prusa SL1S and a Prusa MK3S+. Hope you learn something from my blog after my years of experience in 3D printing.