Monday, November 3, 2014

Dyeing 3D Prints

dyed parts

Recently I designed some parts and had them printed by Shapeways. For a few dollars more I could have had the parts dyed, but none of the colors piqued my interest. Then I remembered seeing these instructions on how to dye printed parts at home. I figured I would give it a try.

original parts

I checked the Rit website and found a color I liked. I selected "Tender Shoots". Luckily I had both of the base colors already.

color recipe
I started by brushing the parts off then scrubbing them under running water to remove the excess nylon powder. The instructions suggested soaking the parts in water for at least 30 minutes or even overnight. I soaked them for two and a half hours.


Next I boiled some water in a glass measuring cup and added the dye. I didn't need much water so I cut the recipe in half. Unfortunately I messed up and added too much of the aquamarine so the end color was off. The instructions mentioned dyeing the parts for 6 minutes, but after that long my parts were still too light. The Rit instructions said to add vinegar when dyeing nylon so I added about half a cup of white vinegar and brought the solution back to a boil in the microwave. The vinegar must have helped as the parts seemed to get darker almost instantly.

in the dye

I continued stirring and reheating the parts for a total of 25 minutes until the color looked saturated enough. Then I rinsed the parts under hot running water and boiled them in clean water for a final rinse. I let the parts dry then sealed them with polyurethane.

finished parts

The parts look pretty good. The color isn't what I wanted but it's better than plain old white. I think I need to refine my dyeing process a little bit; the color could be more saturated.  Here are a few things I learned and some changes I might make next time.

  1. I am going to try adding the vinegar when I soak the parts before dyeing.  I will also soak the parts for at least 12 hours.
  2. Apparently any acid will help with dyeing nylon. I may try something else like citrus acid to see if it makes a difference.
  3. Fit your parts before you dye them! I forgot to test-fit my parts and I needed to enlarge some holes. That removed dye from some areas. It's mostly hidden on my parts so no big deal, but make sure you make any adjustments first. The dye only goes so deep.

the part in use


  1. I'm into this. Nice work. What is it being used on?

    1. They are for holding the spray nozzles on my mosquito control UAV.