Cleaning & Painting 3D Prints

Cleaning HIPS Prints and using Acetone washes

Cleaning up hips prints and eliminating print rings on fdm/fff prints.

First print with HIPS, as I’ve mentioned before it allows for much finer detail that would otherwise get broken when removing supports. I like to mess around with the angel and try to find something that will split the difference on areas subject to weak printing, this most commonly is the legs on a standing pose because
the prints will not allow for any type of grain strength on these thin vertical print areas.



The materials you will need.

Some kick ass disposable gloves



two glass jars with metal lids

a stick

scrap of abs sanded to a point

scrap of zip tie or similar


x-acto blade

small flat brush


after the print it will look like this, save both your nozzle cleaning walls for ABS Stew.


Put on gloves and pour our D-Limonene into a glass jar and throw your print in there, snap off the raft first if you can. This stuff may be organic but the smell is very powerful . You also want to keep it off your skin. Prolonged exposure to vapors and skin absorption will definitely start to make you feel sick. Also just use “used” D-Limonene for this part if you can. There is excessive HIPS on the print at this point and we just to to cut out the big chunks, otherwise it will not come clean on its own in a timely manner.

Take it out after 15 to 20 minutes. Having another container and a funnel can help make this process less messy. As you can see in the image the HIPS is already getting soupy. So I go ahead and break off some big pieces.


Don’t force it if you get any resistance. I’ve broken off the chunks that come loose easily, now I will put it back in my dirty D-Limonene for 40 minutes or so and repeat this process.


After having removed as much as possible I will fill a container with clean D-Limonene and let the print soak over night for 12 hours or so, after soaking I will use my scrap zip tie and ABS stick to clean out any sticky areas left. Usually this can happen in tight complex areas like open mouths and arm pit areas, etc.


I’m going to go ahead and soak these a while longer in some fairly clean D_Limonene. Remember this stuff will start attacking the ABS

after a while so we really want to get these out of the solvent by 24 hours, right now I’m at 18 hours. Don’t be afraid to gently stir your print for a bit to push things along.

At this point go ahead and make your ABS stew in a glass jar. How much ABS should you put in? I dunno, I keep it thin but I like to have a nice sludge layer on the bottom I can drag my brush into. The ingredients are acetone and ABS scraps. I also throw HIPS scraps in there as I will paint this stuff on my glass printing bed which allows me to print hips at 100C without it popping off.

I pull my model after another hour and now it is basically clean, it is time to move onto the application of my ABS Stew.

1) First wash the model off and dry up most of the water.

2) Brush straight Acetone onto the model. This will loosen up the surface a bit and also help clear out tiny pockets of HIPS sludge. You can be liberal but get this done in 15-30 seconds.

3) Brush on ABS stew. If you see printing gaps or tiny holes don’t be afraid to scrape up some sludge off the bottom to paint on. If the area is textured for fur or something don’t go wild or you will ruin the texture. You mostly want to smooth out skin or similar surfaces. A thin coat will get the job done in other areas. Move  with confidence as the liquified ABS will start setting up quickly. Give the coat an hour to totally dry, then move in  with xacto blade and dremel to make any other modifications in any areas that are less than ideal. Do a touch up coat of ABS stew if you need to blend or smooth out areas after this. I’ll load the painted model when it is done.
IMG_2160This is a nice large image you can click on to see the detail.

(old)Cleaning Up Your 3D Prints

3D prints do not come off the hot bed all soft and fuzzy.
You will still have to do work before you can pull out the brushes and micro pens. This includes activities such as sanding and breaking out supports. Sometimes you may find it is faster just to break the figure off the stand at the ankles and glue it back on later. Anyways it is not for the faint of heart, but having the right tools can make this process easier.

A bench vise can come in handy. You can see in the image below I have a traditional vise and one you can quickly clamp on to the edge of a table. I advise the smaller one. You will likely only want to clamp the model by the base. Having a vice that you can clamp in various ways will save you a lot of twisting about.




Other tools I like to use are:
SAFTY GLASSES!! Little pieces of plastic go flying everywhere when you break out supports, protect your eyes!
Loctite Gel SuperGlue (Make sure you get the gel)
Sandpaper, maybe a 100 and 200 grit
Xacto blade, a couple sizes if you have them
Micro Dremel Attachment Kit.


When push comes to shove, you could get buy with just the safety glasses, glue, and Xacto blade but it takes an experienced hand to keep from stabbing yourself in the fingers.