Gluing your 3D prints can be a powerful post-processing method if you’re looking to combine multiple components of an assembly, or create a model larger than the build volume of your 3D printer.

 

In this tutorial, you’ll learn some of the best practices associated with gluing your 3D prints.

 

Working time will vary depending on your model. The process shown took about 20 minutes from start to finish.

 

Supplies 

- 3D Print with multiple components
- Cyanoacrylate glue
- 2 part epoxy
- Rubber bands
- Paper towels
- Scraping tool
- 400-1000 grit sandpaper
- Respiratory mask
- Gloves
- Eye protection

 

 

Tip:
Great models can be found on Thingiverse or GrabCAD for free.

 

Step 1: Obtain your Model (Design or Download)

 

This model is a prototype hair dryer created by Ferro from GrabCAD.

 

If you’re designing from scratch, consider where you’d like the components to be joined.

 

 

 

Tip:
If creating joints or keys for your model, make sure to create joining features large enough that your printer can create them cleanly. Generally, features should be larger than 4-5mm in diameter.

 

Step 2: Prepare

 

A. When preparing models for gluing in MakerBot Print, keep in mind how your print settings will affect the gluing process.

 

Consider: Print settings, print orientation, and number of build plates

 

B. Because of the size of our model, we chose to print on our MakerBot Replicator+ Desktop 3D Printer in MakerBot PLA.

 

 

Tip:
Surfaces printed in the Z axis will have the smoothest surface finish.

 

Tip:
Avoid placing support material around joining features unless necessary.

 

Tip:
PLA is easy to print with and doesn’t shrink or warp during the printing process. Material such as ABS may warp or shrink, negatively affecting the fit of your model components.

 

Step 3: Roughing

 

Supplies used: Needle-nose pliers or flush cutters

 

A. Remove prints from the build plate

 

B. Remove rafts

 

C. Remove large pieces of support

 

D. Approach smaller pieces and fine details

 

Tip:
Take care around edges and seams to ensure your pieces fit together properly.

 

Step 4: Inspect Joints

Your model is ready to glue when all surfaces and joints are smooth and fit together as intended.

 

 

 

Tip:
If you are having trouble fitting seams together or clearing any raft or support material, sanding may help.

 

Step 5: Secure Components

 

Supplies used: Rubber bands

 

A: Join model components using rubber bands

 

Join model components using rubber bands as they will better conform to the shape of your model.

 

 

Tip:

If rubber bands don’t work due to the geometry of your model, try straps, tape or clamps.

 

Step 6: Spot Glue

 

Supplies used: cyanoacrylate glue, accelerator, paper towels

 

A. Begin gluing by, spot glue around your model
(this will ensure that your model is evenly attached in all places)

 

B. Apply a small amount of glue to a seam in a central location

 

 

Tip:
Work from the center of your model outwards in regular intervals to achieve even gluing.

 

 

C. Wipe away any excess with a paper towel

 

D. Use an accelerator and spray the area you just glued

E. Once glue has cured, remove the rubber bands

 

Step 7: Complete Seams

 

A. Apply glue evenly to the remaining unglued seams

 

 

 

B. Wipe away any excess

 

C. Spray accelerator

 

Step 8: Inspect

Take a moment to examine the fit.

 

 

Step 9 (Optional): Fill Seams

 

Supplies used: Bondo, 400 & 1000 grit sandpaper and putty knife

 

If you find that your seams are rough or have gaps, you can use bondo or filler to smooth them - this works especially well if you plan to paint your model or create a silicone mold around it.

 

Fillers like bondo come in two parts - filler and hardener.

 

Tip:
Take care around edges and seams to ensure your pieces fit together properly.

 

A. Pour small amount of filler on a tray

 

B. Spread small amount of hardener next to filler

 

C. Mix and spread generously across seam

 

D. Allow to cure

E. Sand lightly using 400/1000 grit sandpaper