Can You Paint 3D Models Printed with PETG? (How to Do It?)

While the 3D printing journey does indeed start with the 3D printer, it doesn’t necessarily end there, with many 3D printing enthusiasts preferring to take their 3D printed models to the next level by applying additional procedures to increase the quality.

In the 3D printing world, such procedures, including the standard operations of sanding, painting, and polishing, fall under the umbrella term of post-processing, which essentially refers to all the work performed on the 3D printed model to increase its quality.

In today’s article, we will be involved with the post-processing side of the 3D printing process and examine the suitability of painting a 3D model that has been printed with PETG filament in particular, which is a common filament choice for a lot of 3D printing enthusiasts regardless of the purpose of the model they’re printing. 

So, can you paint the 3D models you have printed with PETG filament?

You can absolutely paint the 3D models you have printed with PETG filament with various paint types such as acrylic paint, latex paint, and spray paint, as long as you go through the necessary pre-paint steps of cleaning, sanding, and priming that smoothen and prepare the surface.

Next up, we will take a deeper look into the possibility of painting 3D models printed with PETG in more detail, find out how to conduct the painting process correctly, and discuss whether popular paint choices such as spray paint and acrylic paint are suitable for painting PETG.

Can You Paint 3D Models Printed with PETG?

Post-processing a 3D model, and in specific, painting, has always been a significant part of the 3D printing process, as many 3D enthusiasts who utilize 3D printers to manufacture decorative objects would deem a 3D printed model that has not been post-processed to be incomplete.

It is entirely possible to paint the 3D models you have printed with PETG filament, especially considering that applying primer, which we highly recommend doing before painting, is capable of making any surface suitable to be painted.

After you have prepared the model’s surface, you can practically go with any paint of your choice, with the most commonly used options being acrylic paint and spray paint due to their high availability, ease of use, and efficiency.

How to Paint 3D Models Printed with PETG?

Even though it can sound easy, correctly painting a 3D printed model is just as challenging as the 3D printing process itself and not something you should take lightly due to the many nuances involved.

Below are the steps we recommend taking to paint a 3D model that you have printed with PETG filament:

  1. Clean the surface of the model thoroughly. For this process, we recommend wiping the model you have printed with a microfiber cloth that you have dipped into warm water and soap while avoiding touching the model with your bare hands to prevent oils from making it back to the surface.
  2. Sand the rough areas with sandpaper until the surface is entirely smooth. For this process, our recommendation is to dry sand with 120-grit and 200-grit sandpaper in order first and finish the process off by wet sanding with 400-grit sandpaper afterward.
  3. Apply two coats of primer and let the model dry. Primer smoothens the surface of your 3D printed model by filling in any small cracks and gaps that may remain after the sanding process, which will provide the perfect surface for painting.
  4. Apply a few coats of the paint of your choice and let the model dry. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to wait until the previous coat fully dries before moving forward with the next coat and apply as many coats as necessary to ensure that the finish is even.

Is Acrylic Paint Suitable for Painting PETG?

Acrylic paint is one of the first types of paint that comes to mind due to its ease of use and popularity in hobby projects, which immediately brings the question of whether it would be a suitable option for painting 3D models printed with PETG.

Acrylic paint is entirely suitable for the 3D models you have printed with PETG filament, regardless of whether you’re familiar with painting 3D models, as it has many qualities that make the painting process more accessible such as being quick-drying, easy to apply, and water-soluble.

As with any other paint, we highly recommend sanding and priming the surface of your model before applying the acrylic paint, as skipping these preparation steps can prevent the acrylic paint from correctly sticking to the PETG.

Is Spray Paint Suitable for Painting PETG?

Another prevalent and easy-to-use type of paint is spray paint, which is essentially the go-to product for quickly and efficiently painting almost anything that comes to mind, especially for those who don’t have a lot of experience with painting in general.

Spray paint is a fantastic option for painting the 3D models you have printed with PETG filament, and while painting a model that requires multiple colors with spray paint can need some experience to get right, it’s an excellent choice for going through the painting process quickly.

Sanding and applying primer is just as crucial with spray paint as with other paint types, such as acrylic paint, as you won’t be able to get an even finish on your model without these steps.

Wrapping Up

We can consider painting a 3D model to be practically a necessity in many cases due to the hobby-focused nature of 3D printing, with a large portion of 3D printed models being manufactured for decorative purposes, such as figurines.

To quickly recap, PETG is indeed a suitable type of plastic for painting, meaning that you can print your PETG 3D printed models with almost any paint of your choice, as long as you correctly prepare the model by cleaning, sanding, and priming it to make it suitable for painting.

If you are starting with painting your 3D printed models for the first time, we highly recommend using acrylic paint, as acrylic paint is pretty straightforward to apply and, at the same time, not easy to make mistakes with, which makes it remarkable for beginners.

Happy printing!