Accenting 3D prints with nail polish
If you make a print with recessed lettering, like a dial, you need to do something to make the lettering easier to see. I like to use nail polish.
Recessed writing or markings need to be filled with paint to make them easier to read and to make the print itself look more finished. A lot of people use Sharpies for this, but I am awful at it and I always colour outside the lines. I recently printed a set of Mini Dominoes (Fig. 1) and wanted to colour the dots, so I tried nail polish.
Because it’s inexpensive and easy to find. It’s durable, it comes in many colours and finishes — matte, gloss, swirls, glittery, glow-in-the-dark, thermochromatic (!!) — it forms a thick, opaque layer, and it dries reasonably quickly.
The nail polish I got was the cheapest set of colours I could find on eBay, basically. It came with 12 colours which was nice, but the best thing about them was that they had both brush and “pen” applicators (Fig. 2). The pen applicator is what I was really interested in; it’s a hollow needle that lets me apply the nail polish very precisely.
I love the colours and the effect of the nail polish. I tried to get away with using a Sharpie to mark the center line of each domino, but it just looked awful beside the coloured dots that I had already placed. The gloss and thickness of the paint really does make the print look like it was finished with care (Fig. 3).
The colours I like most are the ones that have really fine glitter mixed into them, which is the blue and purple in Figure 4. The glitter diffuses the light and makes the glossiness more even and gentle.
This technique worked great for me, and I hope I’ve encouraged others to try it too. Here are some random things that I learned while I was doing this: