Dino 2.0

How to cover 3D prints in glitter

If you’re reading this, I guess you want to cover your 3D print in glitter! Cool, that’s exactly what I did and it turned out surprisingly well. Here’s how I did it…

First up, you’ll need a few supplies.

  1. Sandpaper (to get rid of the rough corners)
  2. Soapy water and brush (to get rid of the sanding dust)
  3. Glue (I used basic PVA glue as it’s cheap, easy to wash of brushes and dries clear)
  4. Glitter (I bout it in 100g tubs from Ebay – try and avoid anything too coarse)
  5. Paint brush (something with fairly long/soft bristles to reach all the awkward parts)
  6. Newspaper (for the mess)
  7. Oven trays / foil / large, clean tray (to catch and recover the glitter)
  8. Spray lacquer (to seal the glitter in a bit)
  9. Disposable gloves if you have them
Important eco note: Glitter is tiny bits of plastic. That stuff is bad for the environment and especially bad for the ocean. Try to capture as much of the overspill as you can and don’t tip it down the sink… the fish will thank you.

Follow the steps below and flick though these photos to see how I did it…

Step 1: Print your thing.

I was printing a few awards for work and used basic PLA filament.

Step 2: Sand the corners and remove the rough bits.

Really sharp edges tend to rub off the glitter pretty easily, so give your prints a quick rub over with fairly fine sandpaper. Just enough to knock off the really sharp bits and remove any left-over printing lumps or scaffolding remanents.

Step 3: Give it a wash.

This is just to remove any dust or sandpaper grit left over. If you’re using PVA glue in the next step, you don’t have to dry it too well and PVA is water-based anyway. If you’re using contact adhesive or similar, set it aside until your pint is totally dry.

Step 4: Get your work space sorted.

Cover it in newspaper and lay out your trays. These will contain 99.9% of the mess so make sure they are wide enough to catch everything. Note I had some temporary ‘bases’ for my awards – you don’t need these as there’s a sneaky way to deal with the underside which I’ll explain in a few steps.

Step 5: Spread the glue.

Just gloop it on and spread it around. The idea is to get it all as even / flat as you can while having as much of it as you can on each surface. The image here is borderline stingy – if you can get more on, it’ll help. The key bit is to avoid build up of glue around corners or in crevices. It’s a bit of an art but ton’t take too long getting it perfect as you need the glue to be nice a wet for the glitter sticking step.

TIP: Don’t spread glue over the whole thing just yet. Hold the top of your object with your fingers and glue the bottom 4/5ths of the model as you can see in the photos. You can sort that bit later but a grippy area to hold is vital.

Step 6: Sprinkle glitter.

Start with the bottom of your object pointing up and sprinkle glitter on it from above. Make sure you’re over your tray and be really generous. It’s really important to sprinkle the glitter from every angle to make sure you get every surface covered. Don’t worry about trying to remove excess glitter just yet, leave it on.

TIP1: Once you have covered as much as you can just place the model, base-down in the tray of glitter and cover the remaining bit (the bit you used to hold it with) in glue. Then simply sprinkle some more flitter on the very top part to finish your glittering.

TIP2: The corners are really hard to cover completely. Once you’ve given them a normal coating, try dabbing a little line of glue along the ridge of the corners using the side of the brush bristles, then add some more glitter. It just reenforces the corners a little.

Step 7: Wait 3-4 hours then clean up

The thicker parts of the PVA glue may take a few hours to dry so just set your items aside and go do something else. When they are dry, carefully pick them up and shake off the excess over the newspaper. Don’t go too mad, you can seal any extra bits in with the lacquer. Just transfer them to a new tray or piece of cardboard and take them to where you’re going to spray the lacquer – preferably outside or in a well ventilated space. Then tip the spare / remaining glitter in the tray back into the glitter tubs.

Step 8: Lacquer it

You don’t have to go too mad on this step but just give it enough of a coating to stick the outside glitter layer together a little. It just stops the glitter rubbing off so much. Two, fairly generous coats should do it. leave it to dry for 30 mins and you’re good to go!

TIP: If your item is a strange shape and you don’t want to handle it during spraying, you can elevate it on thin sticks. I’ve used all sorts of setups depending on what I have around. A large potato chopped in half and wooden kebab skewers poked in the top is quite effective. then just place your item on the skewers and you can spray underneath without touching it. Similarly, if you have any old cycle spokes, poke them in some wood for the same effect.




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