How do I smooth 3D printed objects? What is the best / common method to do this?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Can you define what is dangerous for you? $\endgroup$
    – amra
    Jan 27, 2016 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ Something more simpler than sanding and corrosive materials. $\endgroup$
    – Josip Ivic
    Jan 27, 2016 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ This question has changed so much that the answers are no longer accurate?!? $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2016 at 7:15

2 Answers 2


Abrasive blasting is the only other method I can think of which you haven't said you don't want to try.

It is certainly the easiest method provided you have access to one.

Different forms of abrasive blasting include:

  • shot blasting (metal shot) - I suspect it would be far to abrasive but I've never tried it.
  • sandblasting - you have to be careful but this is basically sandpaper attached to a wand. I've used it with great success.
  • bead blasting - using plastic beads. It might actually be the best option but I've never tried it.
  • media blasting - usually uses ground up shells. Might work but I've never tried it.

Get a rock/jewelry tumbler and some tumbling media such as stainless steel shot, and try tumbling your print.

For 3D printed plastic, your print will (a) need to be sturdy, and (b) not have any fine details or small parts that you don't want to be worn away. With metal you will tumble it for hours in order to smooth and semi-polish the surface. With plastic, I would recommend a much shorter time period.

One person tried this using screws as his tumbling media, and has some interesting results to show for it. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Basically, you can get a metallic coating on your plastic print that is made up of tiny bits of the tumbling medium. You'll need to add a protective coating to keep it from rubbing off, but it's cheaper than buying metallic filament.

(Thanks to Mark Walter's comment for the linked articles)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Walter Hsiao has a nice writeup of doing this. He started by tumbling metal filled plastic, but then noticed that a fair amount of the tumbling media ended up on the surface so he used it to coat the plastic. The effect looks nice though I suspect may not be super durable. link $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2016 at 0:45

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .