Polishing Metal 3D Printed Parts

Polishing your parts offers a range of custom high-quality finishes or acts as the first step in other finishing processes.

Key Benefits of Polished Parts

There are many ways to polish metal 3D-printed parts, but only two main reasons to do it: aesthetics or functionality. More details on these two below. 


In the case of medical implants, in particular, smoother parts mean that there's less chance that small pores in the metal could harbor bacteria, yielding better medical outcomes. 

Smoother Surface

Gets rid of layer lines and imperfections that would be considered unappealing to consumers. 

Improved Strength

Removal of imperfections and minor cracks can eliminate potential weak areas in your part.

Corrosion Resistance

Why make it easier for corrosive elements to access the heart of your part? Polishing can eliminate crevices where rust-causing contaminants can hide. 

Less Friction

Smoother surfaces improve wear resistance and help parts glide against each other, rather than rub awkwardly and inconsistently.

Easy Cleaning

Those small cracks and imperfections harbor debris. Polish the surface and make cleanup a snap.

Applications for 3D Part Polishing


custom polished part
Standard polish level on most parts

Custom Finishes 

The amount of polishing you want is totally dependent on your application. Here are just a few examples of industries that require high-quality custom finishes: 

In aerospace and defense projects, channels often benefit from polishing to smooth air and liquid flow. With medical parts, as mentioned earlier, imagine a replacement hip socket or ball that is rough. Not a pleasant thought. The automotive industry provides another example. In cars you want smooth parts to glide against each other, creating less friction. That saves both fuel and repair expenses. Last, but not least, no one likes rough jewelry, so polishing can give your rings that more desirable high-gloss appearance. 

Polish Before Painting or Decaling

Due to the nature of 3D printing—building parts layer-by-layer until complete—you're typically left with rough areas where layers don't quite build atop one another. In some cases, that's not a big deal, but sometimes it's desirable to remove those layer lines and imperfections, smoothing out the surface for a more attractive look. This is especially true of parts that will be visible and/or touchable on a product. 

In terms of functionality, if you need anodized parts, they will look better if polished before application of that coating. If your plans include painting or decaling your part, it's important for the surface to be as smooth as possible to get the material to adhere properly. If you've ever tried to place a sticker on a bumpy surface, you know it won't be there for long. Or if you're trying to paint a bumpy surface, it's always difficult to get paint into the tiny nooks created by printing. In both cases, polish the part first and your problem likely will be solved.