Model Making and 3D Printed Part Finishing - hand sanding a Somos NeXt Tray

Post Processing

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Part Finishing & Post Processing Options

Applying various finishes to 3D Printed parts has always been an important side of the services offered here at F3DP, but as more and more end use parts are now being manufactured using 3D printing and Additive manufacturing it has taken even more importance. We have worked to stay at the forefront as new finishing techniques have become available and have even blazed a few trails of our own by being the first 3D Printing company in the United States to offer Cerakote finishes as an inhouse service to our customers.


The following is an overview of the secondary finishing services we offer. If you have questions or are not sure what is right for your project feel free to send a message to one of our knowledgeable Sales Engineers and we can help you figure out what is the best option for your specific project.


Part Surface Finish Options

Part Sanding:


Everything from just a rough pass to remove support stubble all the way to wet sanding with 600 grit sand paper with specialized hand tools to remove all layer lines.


Model Making and 3D Printed Part Finishing - hand sanding small features on a somos NeXt tray

Media Blasting Part Finish:


Parts can be blasted to give them a matte finish (similar to a plastic milk jug in appearance and texture) this is our most cost effective finishing option.


Vapor Smooth Part Finish:


The Vapor Smoothing process is a chemical surface smoothing method that improves the part performance, seals the surface, and offers a smooth / glossy look and feel. To find out more about this process check out our dedicated page on the topic here.



Part Coating / Color Options –

Dyed Part Finish:


Using a Girbau DY130 and Rit Dye we are able to permanently dye SLS and MJF parts black.



   Painted Part Finish:

Automotive Paint:



This option is great for getting color onto your parts and can be applied to anything produced on any of our 3D printed technologies. In some cases the parts will be fully sanded, then primed, and re-sanded again before the final coat of paint is applied in order to make the parts have an extremely high-end finish. In other cases a part will just be coated in the requested color to keep the cost down and lead time as short as possible. We have the ability to offer any paint color from the following color systems:

This painting process is great for prototypes, trade show models, or investor pitch models. If you are looking for something that will hold up to rough use, harsh environments, and end use applications, please look at our Cerakote option below.


Cerakote Coating:



Cerakote is a Polymer-Ceramic Composite coating that can be applied to many different 3D printed materials. The unique formulation used for Cerakote ceramic coating enhances a number of physical performance properties including abrasion/wear resistance, corrosion resistance, chemical resistance, impact strength, and hardness.

For a lot more information on this coating and examples of it being used on 3D printed parts please check out our dedicated page.


Clear Part Finish:


Parts printed on one of our SLA machines in the Somos Watershed material can be hand sanded and clear coated to achieve a very clear surface finish.


Model Making and 3D Printed Part Finishing - sanded somos watershed clear part


Metal Plating:


Electroplated coatings are a great compliment to 3D printed part that need characteristics like:

  • Environmental Barrier
  • EMI shield
  • Abrasion resistant surface
  • Improves strength and stiffness
  • Long term durability

Using 3D Printing in conjunction with electroplating its possible to create high end durable products in low quantities for high value applications.


Metals that are available for platting:




Examples of parts that have been metal plated:


NOTE: Having parts coated typically adds 2-10 days to the time it takes to get parts done and shipped out.


Other Secondary Services –



F3DP offers part assembly services for both 1 off prototypes all up to multi thousand part production runs for customers. Examples of these services include:

  • Installing magnets
  • Assembly of 3D printed parts with components manufactured by machining, sheet metal fabrication, casting, or any other manufacturing process.
  • Assembly with purchased parts
    • If you supply us with a Bill of Materials (BOM) we can include the price of purchased parts along with assembly for your project.
  • Threading of holes (see threaded holes below for more details on this)


Deep Laser Engraving:


Using Deep Laser Engraving we are able to cost effectively digitally mark 3D printed parts with logos, serial numbers, instructions, etc. Here is our dedicated page on this topic.

Model Making and 3D Printed Part Finishing - laser etched 3D Printed part


Threaded Holes:


Heat Set inserts – F3DP can handle the installation of any heat set insets needed for your parts.

Check out our design guide for using heat set inserts on your 3D Printed parts.


Tapped Holes – F3DP can handle any tapping needed for your parts.


Printed in Threads – Printed threads is a viable option for MJF parts and can be a real cost savings due to it eliminating a secondary operation.


For more testing on the durability of printed threads please check out our dedicated page on this topic.


Heli-Coil Inserts – F3DP can handle the installation of any Heli-Coil insets needed for your parts.


Gluing / Light Welding:

Gluing – great option for joining both similar and different materials together as a single part. If there are any drips or runs from the joint it can be hard if not impossible to sand them away so if you care about cosmetics this option is not really the best way to go. Please visit our dedicated part gluing page to find out more about this.


Light Welding (SLA only) – with this process we use an SLA like material that is very similar to the material that the parts were printed with and apply that to the joint, then put the parts are put together and cured with a UV light source. This is the weaker of the two joint bonding options, but the upside is that we can sand this joint after welding and make smooth so that it can’t be felt or seen if the part is painted.


Finish Level Definition:

The following is a guide to the different finishes that will be on a quote from F3DP and what they mean:

MJF / SLS Parts:

Opaque Parts (SLA / FDM / POLYJET / CLIP Parts):

    • Level 0 Strip & Ship – Excess material is cleaned off part, supports (if any are present) are removed. Support surfaces are not sanded and are left very rough.
      • Cost: FREE


    • Level 1 Support Sanding – Excess material is cleaned off part, supports (if any are present) are removed. Rough support surfaces are sanded smooth.
      • Unless specified this is the finish all parts we print are shipped with.
      • Cost: $


    • Level 2 Matte Finish – Support surfaces are sanded, parts are lightly sanded in all rough areas. Bead blast applied to entire part for uniform finish.
      • Cost: $$


    • Level 3 Mold Master – Layer lines removed through sanding of entire part. Bead blast applied to entire part for uniform finish. Part can be used as a master for cast urethan tooling.
      • Cost: $$$


    • Level 4 Paint Prep – Layer lines removed through sanding of entire part. Part is prepared for painting with primer.
      • Cost: $$$$


    • Level 4 Cerakote – Layer lines removed through sanding of entire part. Part is then coated in Cerakote.
      • Cost: $$$$


Clear Parts (SLA / POLYJET):

    • Clear – Level 1 Strip & Ship – Excess resin is cleaned off the parts and supports are removed. Support surfaces are not sanded and are left rough. Part is transparent but layer lines are visible and looking through the part will be blurry.
      • Unless specified this is the finish all parts we print are shipped with.
      • Cost: FREE


    • Clear – Level 1 Bead Blast – Support surfaces are sanded. Bead blast applied to entire part for uniform finish. Parts have a smoked appearance like a milk jug.
      • Cost: $


    • Clear – Level 2 Rough Coat – Rough support areas are sanded smooth and the part is clear coated, layer lines will be visible in the clear coat but you can easily see through the part and make out details on the other side.
      • Cost: $$$


    • Clear – Level 3 Optical Coat – Layer lines removed from the entire part by hand sanding, Part is then clear coated and its as close to being optically clear* as is possible.
      • Cost: $$$$


  • For more information on clear 3D printed parts and examples of what each of the finish options listed below look like please visit our page on clear parts.
  • *There is no such thing as a truly “optically clear” 3D printed part. To the human eye the part will appear clear like glass, but due to the part being built with layers it will scatter things like light, lasers, and sometimes vision systems in unpredictable ways.


Click here to go to the 3D Printing Machines & Materials page

Have questions?

Contact us: – 231.722.1144

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