May 12, 2023

Plastic Painting Tips

With the advent of 3D printers, there has been a huge explosion in new parts available for our Land Cruisers. This is has been a true blessing as it's not only vastly increased the array of parts being invented or reproduced for our Land Cruisers, but it's brought down the cost of making plastic parts as well. However, with newer low volume plastic parts production, there are trade-offs. One being finishing and colors. Traditional 3D printers can leave printing lines. And plastic colors tend to be very limited.. mainly black. So how do we get the plastic parts to match our interiors? Thankfully the paint industry has stepped up and there are now many flexible high quality paints available for plastics. We here at the Cruiser Cult are no strangers to painting parts, especially plastic parts. We offer several high quality reproduction plastic parts, from our custom dash knobs to our amazing speaker grills. Here in this post we will go over some tips on painting plastic that will net you a nice high quality finish that will last years to come.

First things first we need to assemble the supplies. A good respirator is always a great investment. I recommend the 3M 7000 units with the organic vapor cartridges. Always protect those lungs!

Next step is to look around at what paint supplies you have access to a your local autoparts store or online store. I say this because it's good to pick a "paint system" , brand, and stick with it. Paint products are made to work well with each other within a product line so always keep the brand the same if you can. For me, the Duplicolor brand makes a great product and I can easily get it online and at the local parts store.

Products you will need for painting plastic varying sand paper grits (dependent on the finish level you want), tack cloth, surface prep spray, plastic adhesion promotor and the color of your choice. When buying a surface prep-spray, make sure you get one that indicates it's plastic compatible. The Duplicolor spray has been great on many types of plastic and gets the surface nice and clean for the next steps. Also, make sure it's fully evaporated before applying.

When first finishing plastic, give it a quick clean with the surface prep. I feel that it helps eliminate any oills/films on the plastic surface that may get sanded into the plastic. When sanding, make sure you sand all the surfaces evenly. Do not leave any visible areas of the plastic part under sanded compared to other parts. You want an even finish/surface.

Next clean the parts well with tack cloth to get rid of plastic specks and clean the part well with the surface prep again. Following surface prep, the part is now ready to paint! Follow the instructions on the surface prep coats and follow it up with paint. Definitely do not skip the plastic adhesion promotor. Its vital for a good and long lasting finish on the plastic.

Our reproduction speaker grills painted in SEM Graphite 15303

If you are painting plastic and you want to keep the original color. Choose a clear coat with UV protection. I like the Duplicolor 1K Extreme Gloss clear.

Our custom knobs painted in Duplicolor Extreme Gloss

Painting plastic parts is pretty easy, just make sure your parts are clean, have an even finish and have at it! I hope these tips have been helpful!

If you have purchased a pair of our speaker grills, they are super easy to paint as they need no sanding out of the box due to the type of high quality print. Just hit them with cleaner, adhesion promotor and the color of your choice! For cruisers with brown interiors, we have seen that SEM "Cordovan Brown" is a great match. SEM "Graphite" is a great match for grey interiors.

Cheers all!  

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