Practical Magic: I Want it Painted Black

All right, so we already offer black as an option for printing filament, but I can never pass up a good song reference/perfect title combo.  Did you know we can also print in white, opaque red, royal blue, translucent purple, translucent yellow, neon pink and neon green?  We can even print in two different colors on Ada if you’re feeling particularly fancy or if your design requires it.

But what if you need more?  If two colors simply won’t do your printed object justice?  Or what if it needs to be gold?  Well, we experimented a bit with the last one in the lead-up to PPL’s Harry Potter Day earlier this month and here are the extremely scientific findings.

We captured the magical day with the help of a fabulous photo booth, costume props included.  And what assortment of HP paraphernalia would be complete without Hermione’s trusty Time-Turner?  While we had a real Time-Turner in one of our prizes, we thought one that was a little tougher might be more fun for the photos, and while we can’t print one for patrons because we charge money (darn copyright laws), our nerdy hearts couldn’t resist printing one for everyone to play with at the Library.  Gute took care of the hardware, and we printed up Leo96hansen’s Time-Turner design in white for an easily-covered background color.


Printing in white gives us that nice simple background (black can also stand in, we just had more white on hand—and really, with enough paint, you can cover basically any color), but because the center circle has raised edges on both sides, we had a bit of extra material on one side from the supports required for happy printing.  Lucky us, the Youth Services department is prepared for nearly any eventuality and they had a supply of 220 grit very fine sandpaper, which works very well on PLA plastic.  How smooth you get the final product is totally up to you (and your patience levels).  For us, it was enough to smooth out the overhangs and supports.

I brought the pieces home to paint in my extremely well-ventilated basement.  (It’s not.  Listen to the instructions on the spray paint can; crack a window.)  Our Time-Turner got two and a half coats of paint, which is what happens when you forget to check if you have enough paint for your project.


The spray paint—regular old Rustoleum Metallic Gold—worked  well with the plastic, though it did scrape off pretty easily, so keep that in mind for projects that might get a lot of use.  A sealer might help keep everything looking spiffy.

Assembly took a bit of work.  Some of the holes were a little snug and needed some scraping down, due in part to the layers of paint; luckily none of it was visible on the finished Time-Turner.

Et voilà!  A Time-Turner fit for any witch, wizard or muggle.

Arranged and Assembled.pngSpray paint worked great for us because we were going for a single color and full coverage on all the parts.  If your project has more detail, or only certain parts need paint, any oil paint will work, though acrylic is commonly suggested as the best option for plastics.  Whatever you print and whatever color you paint it, have fun!


Check our events calendar and computer class schedule for updates on 3D printing demos!


Gutenberg enjoys humming, getting crafty, and causing mischief around the library. Ada enjoys reading up on the latest 3D printing technology and researching tips and tricks to make life easier. Gute and Ada’s people enjoy tinkering, making, and discovering ingenious solutions to everyday problems. If you have questions or suggestions for future Practical Magic posts, please feel free to email us at

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