How to Get Smooth 3D Prints

Ever wanted to get rid of those layer rings on your 3D prints?

If you can't afford to have your models printed by high resolution printers like those used at Shapeways, you can still get great looking prints at home by using a little post processing magic.

This week's top tip comes courtesy of visual effects artist and 3D printing enthusiast Cameron Coombs.


Hi, my name is Cameron Coombs and I thought I'd share a quick tip on smoothing your 3D print after your print is complete by using acetone.

In other methods you might be heating up acetone in a crockpot or something similar to get a smooth glossy look and feel. I think this is a much easier and (most importantly) safer way to achieve equally great results.

What you need.

3D print SmoothingThis simple process requires only a few inexpensive items which can all be picked up from your local hardware store.

1. Acetone

2. One gallon paint can

3. Set of magnets

4. Paper towels

Step 1

Paint Can and Paper towelsUse a couple of paper towels to line the inside of the paint can (if they are large sheets, cut them in half), using the magnets to hold them in place.

Step 2

Pour 2-3oz of acetone into the bottom of the can. Careful you don't pour too much because later the can will be upside-down and you don’t want any leaking out. Roll the can around until all the paper towels are wet.

Step 3

raising your 3D print on magnetsPlace your 3D print on the under side of the lid and be sure to put something under the print to raise it up and prevent the print from sticking to the lid when done. I used left over magnets, but washers work well.

Step 4

covering 3d prints with acetone canPlace the bottom of the paint can over the lid so that it covers the lid.  Let that sit for 40 minutes or so, depending on the level of smoothness desired. And be sure to leave in a well ventilated area.

After about 40 minutes, the paper towels may dry out, so add more acetone if you want the process to go longer.

Your print will be dry to the touch after 30 min or so, but let it completely dry for 12 hours or ABS will be soft and pliable.

The results

Batman 3D print smoothing

3D printed frog after smoothing

Got a tip of your own? Add your top tips and advice in the comments below.