Sandblasting Glass 3D Printer Beds

sand blast 3d printer glass bed

Sandblasting a 3D printer glass bed can help improve the finish of 3D prints. It is a process that involves using an air gun or a nozzle to blast sand or other media onto the surface of the glass bed, creating a matte or frosted finish. This helps to improve adhesion and reduce the need for adhesives such as glue, hairspray, or tape. Sandblasting can also be used to smooth and clean 3D printed objects, removing rough edges and creating a more professional and polished look. It is important to note that sandblasting may not be suitable for all materials, such as PLA filament, as it can be too soft for the abrasive process. Additionally, care must be taken when sandblasting corners to avoid breaking them off. Overall, sandblasting a 3D printer glass bed can be an effective way to improve the quality of 3D prints.


Sandblasting 3D prints for a smooth finish

Sandblasting is an excellent way to achieve a smooth, professional finish on your 3D prints. It is a process that involves using a sandblaster to abrade the surface of the print, removing any rough edges and creating a homogeneous, matte surface. This results in a significant improvement in the visual quality of the print by reducing the optical noise and making it easier to visually parse the object's geometry.

Benefits of Sandblasting 3D Prints

One of the main advantages of sandblasting your 3D prints is the ability to eliminate rough edges and create a smooth surface. This is especially useful for giving your 3D models a professional and exquisite look. Sandblasting is also very easy to do and does not require any prior experience or expertise. Additionally, it is a quick way to achieve a smooth finish, especially when compared to other methods such as sanding or vapour smoothing.

Materials and Equipment for Sandblasting

To get started with sandblasting your 3D prints, you will need to gather some tools and equipment. Firstly, you will need an air gun kit with an air compressor, or you may need to purchase an air compressor separately. You will also need a plastic bottle, a metal file, and some sandblasting media such as glass beads, silicone carbide, or soda. It is important to choose the right sandblasting media based on your specific needs and desired results. For example, glass beads provide a professional, smooth, matte finish, while silicone carbide is more aggressive and suitable for removing a lot of material quickly.

Safety Considerations

When sandblasting, it is important to exercise caution, especially when working with certain materials. For instance, PLA filament material is too soft to withstand the abrasive impact of the sandblaster. Additionally, the corners of your 3D prints may be weak, and sandblasting them can cause breakage. In such cases, it is recommended to use sandpaper for a better finish. It is also crucial to take safety measures when working with certain sandblasting media, such as silica sand, as it can impact your respiratory system. Always wear a respiratory mask when working with silica sand to avoid any health risks.

Commercial Sandblasting Cabinets

If you are looking for a more convenient and user-friendly option, you may consider investing in a commercial sandblasting cabinet. These cabinets, such as the Sinterit Sandblaster SLS, offer a comfortable and safe way to post-process large 3D printouts. They are designed to let you clean small gaps and details, as well as polish the surface of your prints. These cabinets often come with features like pedal-controlled airflow, a built-in pressure meter, and illumination for better visibility.

Sandblaster Gun Kit: Your DIY Companion

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Sandblasting 3D glass bed prints to clean small gaps

Sandblasting is a post-processing technique used to smoothen 3D prints and create a homogenous and matte surface. It involves blasting an abrasive material, such as sand, onto a printed model at high pressure. While sandblasting is effective for objects with less intricate designs, it may not be suitable for those with complex geometries and small gaps.

To clean small gaps in 3D-printed models, it is recommended to use a combination of manual and chemical methods. Firstly, use a plastic scraper to gently remove any large debris or leftover filament from the glass bed. Hold the scraper at a shallow angle and apply light, even pressure to avoid damaging the surface.

For more stubborn debris, consider heating the print bed slightly to soften the material before scraping. Alternatively, needle-nose pliers can be used to remove intact debris without flattening it onto the bed. It is important to avoid using metal scrapers, as they can damage the glass surface over time.

After removing the large debris, the next step is to dissolve and remove any remaining residue. Mix a cleaning solution of 90% water and 10% isopropyl alcohol (IPA), and apply it to the bed surface. Allow it to soak for 5-10 minutes to soften and loosen the residue. Then, use a nylon brush or a microfiber cloth to scrub and remove the remaining residue.

For deeper cleaning, a higher concentration of IPA (90% or more) can be used. Apply the solution to a lint-free paper towel and place it on the stained areas for about 10 minutes. This will help draw out the stains without directly touching the glass bed.

Finally, it is important to maintain good print bed hygiene by regularly cleaning the surface. Light users can get by with a monthly deep clean and a quick wipe-down every few prints, while heavy users should consider weekly extensive cleaning and always tidying the surface between print jobs.


Sanding vs sandblasting

There are two common ways of removing old paint from a car: sanding and sandblasting. Sanding involves the use of sandpaper to strip paint from a car, while sandblasting involves blasting abrasives such as sand, glass, and plastic beads at high speeds to remove paint from the surface of the car. In this article, we will compare the two techniques in terms of the time required, quality of results, and cost.

Time Required

If time is a constraining factor in your paint removal project, sandblasting may be the better option. Sandblasting can remove paint from a car within a few minutes, thanks to the high-speed blasting of abrasives. On the other hand, sanding involves manually removing paint using sandpaper, which can take an hour or more, depending on your speed and the size of the area being sanded.

Quality of Results

The quality of the final paint job highly depends on how well the surface is prepared. If some of the old paint and debris are left behind, the new paint may not go on smoothly. Sanding is highly dependent on the amount of energy and precision put into the task. If you leave specks of paint behind, the finished product may not be appealing. Sandblasting, on the other hand, uses a machine that ensures precision during paint removal. Sandblasting can also smooth out pitted surfaces and eliminate calcium deposits, chrome, and rust, leaving a smooth and even surface for the fresh paint.


Sanding and sandblasting differ significantly in terms of cost. Sanding is the cheapest option, as all you need to buy is sandpaper. For DIY sandblasting, you will need to rent or buy the equipment and the abrasive material. If you opt for professional sandblasting, you will pay for labour and the abrasive materials. However, since sandblasting can be completed much faster than sanding, you may not incur a lot in hourly labour costs.

Application in 3D Printing

In the context of 3D printing, sandblasting can be used to finish 3D prints and improve surface quality. Sandblasting can help to evenly abrade the surface of a printed object, removing the smooth, reflective surfaces of individual extrusions and creating a homogeneous, matte surface that scatters light evenly. However, one should be cautious when sandblasting PLA prints as the high speeds and friction generated can cause the plastic to melt, burn, or warp.

Both sanding and sandblasting are effective techniques for removing paint from a car, but they have different advantages and disadvantages. Sanding is a cheaper and more precise option, but it is more time-consuming and physically demanding. Sandblasting, on the other hand, is faster, requires less labour, and ensures a smoother surface. The choice between the two techniques depends on the specific requirements and constraints of the project.


Materials to avoid sandblasting

Sandblasting is a process that uses pressurised air to propel tiny particles at high velocity to strip objects of coatings, rust, paint, and other undesired veneers. It is commonly used to clean and smooth objects, and prepare them for painting or powder coating.

While sandblasting is an effective method for treating a variety of surfaces, there are some materials that should be avoided due to safety concerns or the potential for equipment damage. Here are some materials to avoid sandblasting:


Sand is sometimes used interchangeably with the term "sandblasting", but it is not a suitable medium for blasting. Sand contains silica, which is known to cause serious respiratory illnesses for workers. Additionally, sand has a high moisture content that can lead to premature equipment failure.


While plastic media can be used for sandblasting, it is important to avoid sandblasting plastic objects, especially those made of PLA (Polylactic Acid). The friction and heat generated during sandblasting can easily melt, burn, and warp plastic parts.


Glass can be sandblasted to create a frosted finish, but it is important to use the correct type of glass. Regular window glass or mirror glass may be used, but the glass used in heat beds, known as borosilicate glass, is recommended as it can withstand higher temperatures without issue. Sandblasting glass with an incompatible media can result in chunks being removed from the glass.

Soft or delicate surfaces

When dealing with soft or delicate surfaces, it is important to choose a gentle medium such as walnut shells or corn cobs. These materials are biodegradable and environmentally friendly, making them suitable for surfaces like wood where etching is not desired.

Complex or detailed 3D-printed objects

Sandblasting can be used to finish 3D-printed objects by creating a matte surface that reduces optical noise and improves visual parsing of the object's geometry. However, it is important to note that sandblasting may result in the loss of fine details on complex 3D-printed objects.


Making a sandblaster

To make a sandblaster, you will need the following:

  • An air gun kit with an air compressor.
  • A metal file.
  • A plastic bottle with a cap.
  • Your preferred sandblasting media.

Once you have gathered all the necessary tools and equipment, you can begin the process of assembling your sandblaster. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1:

Use the metal file to create a hole in the air gun nozzle. The hole should be located slightly away from the joint. This hole will be essential for the sandblasting media to pass through.

Step 2:

Take the plastic bottle and drill a hole in the cap. Additionally, drill another hole at the top of the bottle. These holes will allow for the passage of the air gun barrel and hose, as well as the sandblasting media.

Step 3:

Insert the air gun barrel inside the tip of the bottle. Ensure that the barrel is securely fitted into the hole you drilled in the previous step. Before inserting the barrel, you can fill the bottle with your chosen sandblasting media, such as glass beads, silicone carbide, soda, or silica sand.

Step 4:

Close the cap of the bottle tightly to ensure that the sandblasting media does not leak out during operation.

Step 5:

Connect the hose of the air gun to your air compressor. This will provide the compressed air necessary to propel the sandblasting media onto the surface you wish to treat.

With these steps completed, you have successfully made your own sandblaster! Remember to take the necessary safety precautions when using your sandblaster, especially when working with silica sand, as it can be harmful to your respiratory system. Always wear a respiratory mask and protect your skin and eyes from the abrasive media.

Frequently asked questions

Sandblasting is used to finish 3D prints by removing or clearing out all the rough edges, resulting in a smooth surface area. It is also used to clean small gaps and details and polish the surface.

Materials that can be used for sandblasting include glass beads, soda, silica sand, and silicone carbide. However, it is important to note that sandblasting is not suitable for all materials, such as PLA filament material, as it is too soft to bear the abrasive impact.

Sandblasting a 3D printed glass bed can help improve the surface quality of the print by removing the smooth, reflective surfaces of individual extrusions and creating a homogeneous, matte surface that scatters light evenly. This results in improved optical clarity and makes the visual task of parsing the printed object's geometry much easier.

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