Painting Plastic

Question: I saw your name on the Internet.

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I saw your name on the Internet. I am hoping you can answer a very simple question though more and more it appears as if it would be easier to go to the moon. What is the best paint to use to paint ABS plastic? It will be out in the heat and the cold. T.N.


Ultraviolet (UV) radiation would be more harmful to acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) used outdoors than the heat and cold. Therefore, it should be coated with a pigmented material (paint) for UV protection.

Most paints are suitable for coating ABS. Owing to their better wetting ability, solvent borne paints would be a better choice. The rule of thumb for painting plastics: Try the proposed paint on a small hidden area or scrap part, and if the plastic is not attacked by the paint, use it.

Prepaint surface preparation for plastics is as important as it is for metals. Some plastics require special pretreatments such as chemical etching, corona discharge, flame treating, plasma pretreatment, or laser pretreatment after cleaning. ABS can be pretreated by abrading. Since this sounds like a home project, you will not have access to industrial finishing materials and equipment. In that case, a typical pretreatment for ABS is as follows:

1. Degrease the surface with an aqueous alkaline cleaner (powdered alkaline household cleaner) or detergent solution (dishwashing detergent) and rinse with clear water.
2. Abrade the surface with fine sand paper.
3. Remove any sanding dust.
4. Apply the solvent-containing paint of your choice.


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