How to Clean Up a 3D Printed Object

As a 3D printing enthusiast, you know that creating a 3D printed object is just the first step. Once the printing is complete, you need to clean up the object to make it look professional and ready for use. In this article, we’ll explore the various methods and tools you can use to clean up your 3D printed objects, from removing support structures to sanding and painting.

Removing Support Structures

One of the primary steps in cleaning up a 3D printed object is to remove support structures. Support structures are temporary structures that hold up the overhanging parts of the object during printing. They are usually made of the same material as the object and need to be removed once the printing is complete.

Using Pliers or Tweezers

Pliers or tweezers are handy tools for removing support structures. You can use them to grab the support structure and twist it until it snaps off. However, be careful not to damage the object while doing this.

Using a Knife or Scissors

A knife or scissors can also be used to remove support structures. You can use the blade to cut the support structure off from the object. Be careful not to cut into the object while doing this.


Once you’ve removed the support structures, the next step is to sand the object to remove any rough edges or bumps. Sanding creates a smooth surface that improves the object’s appearance and makes it ready for painting or finishing.

Key takeaway: Cleaning up a 3D printed object involves removing support structures, sanding the object to remove rough edges, and painting the object to enhance its appearance. Using pliers or tweezers and a knife or scissors are common methods for removing support structures, while sandpaper or a sanding sponge can be used for sanding. To paint the object, preparing it thoroughly before applying thin, even coats is important. Adding a clear coat or decal can give the object a professional, personal touch.

Using Sandpaper

Sandpaper is the most common tool used for sanding 3D printed objects. You can use sandpaper of different grits to achieve the desired level of smoothness. Start with a coarse grit to remove any large bumps or rough edges, then move to a finer grit to achieve a smoother finish.

Using a Sanding Sponge

A sanding sponge is another tool you can use to sand 3D printed objects. It’s more flexible than sandpaper and conforms to the shape of the object, making it easier to sand curved or irregular surfaces.


Painting is the final step in cleaning up a 3D printed object. It adds a layer of protection to the object and enhances its appearance. You can use different types of paints, such as acrylic, enamel, or spray paint, depending on the material of the object and the desired finish.

Key takeaway: Cleaning up a 3D printed object involves removing support structures, sanding to smooth out rough edges and bumps, painting to enhance its appearance and protect it from damage, and adding finishing touches to give it a personal touch. Using pliers or tweezers, a knife or scissors, sandpaper or a sanding sponge can help in removing support structures and sanding. Preparation is key before painting, and applying it with thin, even coats is important. Finally, finishing touches such as clear coats or decals or stickers can add a professional and personal touch to your 3D printed object.

Preparing the Object

Before painting, you need to prepare the object by cleaning it thoroughly. Use a clean cloth or brush to remove any dust or debris from the surface. If the object has any grease or oil stains, you can use a mild detergent to clean it.

Applying the Paint

When applying the paint, use thin, even coats to avoid drips or runs. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one. If the object has small details or crevices, you can use a brush to apply the paint. For larger surfaces, you can use a spray can for a more even finish.

Finishing Touches

After the painting is complete, you can add some finishing touches to your 3D printed object to make it look even more professional. You can use a clear coat to protect the paint and give the object a glossy finish. A clear coat can also help to prevent the paint from chipping or fading over time.

Another finishing touch you can add to your 3D printed object is a decal or sticker. You can create your own decal or sticker using a vinyl cutter or purchase pre-made decals or stickers online. Adding a decal or sticker to your 3D printed object can add a personal touch and make it stand out.

FAQs for How to Clean Up a 3D Printed Object

What are the common methods used to clean up a 3D printed object?

The most commonly used methods to clean up a 3D printed object include sanding, filing, scraping, and using solvents. Sanding is best for smoothing out rough surfaces, while filing is useful for removing bumps and rough edges. Scraping is useful for removing excess material from flat surfaces, while solvents like rubbing alcohol or acetone can be used for dissolving unwanted materials.

How should I prepare the object before cleaning it?

Before cleaning the object, make sure it is cool and has fully hardened. If you’re using a solvent, wear gloves to protect your hands and work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any dangerous fumes. If possible, also remove any support material or rafts from the bottom of the object before cleaning it to ensure a smoother finish.

Is there anything I should avoid doing when cleaning a 3D printed object?

Avoid using sharp objects that may scratch or damage the object, and be careful not to apply too much pressure or you may accidentally deform or break it. Also, be careful when sanding or buffing as it may create dust and tiny particles that can be harmful to inhale.

How can I remove tough stains or smudges from my 3D printed object?

If you have tough stains or smudges on your object, try using a mild solvent, such as rubbing alcohol or acetone. Apply the solvent to a clean cloth and gently rub the affected area until the stain or smudge is removed. Alternatively, you can try using a small bristled brush to agitate and remove the stain.

How can I make sure my 3D printed object looks polished?

To make your object look polished, start by sanding it with a fine grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots or bumps. Then, apply a spray-on primer to the object to fill in any small gaps or pores. Finally, paint the object with your desired shade or finish, and allow it to dry completely. This should leave your object looking polished and ready for display.