Metal look with 3D print?

Hi! I want to make a prototype of a metal spoon (and several other kitchen tools) and was wondering if anybody have experience with creating a metal look with a plastic 3D print (for example: Shapeways: Fine Detail Plastic)? Probably spray paint, but which brand? And any other tips or examples? Or other methods?

I’ve had decent success with the Krylon Premium Metallic line Premium Metallic - | Krylon

But I think brand of paint is only 5% of the outcome, the quality of finish is usually dependent on how well you’ve primed and sanded the WSF print and how well you apply the coat (ie. light misting coat layers that slowly build up to prevent runs which look especially bad in any metallic because of the metal flake).

The smoother you can get your model (ie. reduce small details) the more likely you’ll get a result that looks passable for metal, but if you have a lot of small detail adding paint will only make it look rougher.

Another option is potentially printing in Alumide doesn’t look like typical dinnerware but might work depending on your aesthetic.

Thanks for the quick reply choto! Alumide won’t work, I really want a reflection if that is possible. I just found this video of chrome spray paint from Spaz and Alclad:

Look really nice, but I guess I need to sand the hell out of it to get a finish just like in the video :stuck_out_tongue:

If you want to get a polished look, you’ll need to either hand finish the part to get rid of the stair stepping from the 3D print, or build up the paint slowly to try and get a thick enough coat that fills in the steps but that will be tricky.

Any reason you wouldn’t consider building a part in 3D printed metal or CNCing?

Depends on your budget too.

Research Daft Punk Helmet Chroming. Those guys have it down, its its a pricey process both DIY and sending it out.

I think you should have your part CNC machined from one of the Rapid Prototype companies in China. There is a discussion thread on the boards here somewhere where people have listed a number of reputable suppliers.
When done in China- CNC machining for prototypes is actually quite affordable and the quality of part is superior than 3d Prints.

I would even think you could get a part EDM machined and polished from stainless steel from one of these firms for a reasonable price.

+1 for CNC, you’ll only ever get half-there with an RP/spray paint solution.

Furthermore, alumide doesn’t lend well to hand finishing, and DMLS can be prohibitively expensive.

Yeah if your budget and timelines allows for it CNC out of real metal could be ideal. Bkhw can you post a picture of the objects/and or the type of finish you want to get (matte metal, mirror reflective?) Might be able to get more informed responses.

Eman those chromed Daft Punk Helmets are nuts, you have any ballpark idea on cost?

When I was looking to do my helmet it was around $250-300. Sure something smaller might be less though. But your surface has to be absolutely perfect (and mine wasnt so i went with something more forgiving.

Saw this in related videos. Looks promising

Hey there,

I did a flatware set back in school - maybe this will help:
after all the form finding and cad was done I had the parts milled out of aluminum in china.
I think I even found the person who did the CNC through this board if I remember right.
Here’s a pic of a photo from way back when:

some other images here: Knife.Fork.Spoon by Joe Gray at

I can recommend also, if you insist on using your RP parts and you want a glossy surface, do this:
Sand smooth. Paint with a gloss paint. make molds and make a few castings. then you can try different paint on the castings.

If you’re looking for a brushed SS look - I’ve had good results with this paint

Lay on a couple coats, brillo super lighlty, and hit it with a good clear.
photograph’s well.

Thanks for all the replies. I looking for a metal finish with a high contrast and between a mirror finish (a) and slight dulled out reflection (b).



(the top of the lid)

A finish like the third spoon would be perfect.

I need a serving spoon, slotted spoon and a ladle. They are kitchen utensils and quite big. I wish I can post some renders, but they are still confidential. I thought CNC milling would be too expensive, but I have need to give it a better look before I scrap that option.

Cool videos! Do you have photos of your helmet? I am curious :slight_smile:

Never took any proper videos/photos of it. Just a few instagram post

I’ve seen an alumide like filament but with brass in it. Polished up with Brasso and it looks like weathered brass, weighs a little bit more too.
There’s also liquid stainless steel: paint with stainless steel flakes in it, but its $130 a litre. Rustoleum do some hammer finsh spray paints which I’ve had good results with on plywood.

You can also used an acetone vapor bath on an ABS FDM’d part. A bit of labor is involved with some sanding, but you can get a pretty smooth surface.

i do not know about making the actual shape but in Pinterest there are ways to do like sugar spoons with plastic bottles and designs with a hot glue gun. Maybe that could help to do different shapes and designs to a prototype in a simple way.

I recommend the precious plated material from Shapeways - it allows for 0.8mm wall thickness and will feel more close to the actual product while being cost- and labor effective. You can roughen the finish with a polishing tool manually.