Guide: Assembling Multiple 3D Printed Parts

Large prints don’t have to be out of your reach! With a little glue, sandpaper, and patience you too can make 4 foot long swords!

In this guide I will be showing a step by step process on how I assembled Thunderfury, Blessed Blade Of The Windseeker! The model is available here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2780419

I touch base on this subject in my Guide to Post-Processing 3D Prints, but this guide is a more in-depth look at different adhesives available, technique on prepping your prints, and putting it all together.

 

Chapters

i Adhesives

ii Prepping the Pieces

iii Assembly

 

i Adhesives

There are a multitude of adhesives out there, but I will be discussing the main 2 that I use for post-processing 3D printed parts.

Superglue (Cyanoacrylates)

Use this glue instead of epoxy when working with smaller printed parts. Use the exact same process.

Epoxy Glue 

Really strong bond with 5 minute working time.

ii Prepping the Prints

Layout

Lay your print out in the way that resembles its final form. It’s good to familiarize with the model so that when it comes time to work with epoxy, you’ll know how things fit. Use a Sharpie to label the parts if needed (if it will be painted later anyway).

 

Sandpaper

Next step is to sand with 80 grit sandpaper. Note where the print is supposed to make contact with other parts – those are the areas that will need to be sanded. I personally cut my sandpaper up into strips shown below.

 

Sand the contact areas until it has roughed up and there is a noticeable texture. This process is like scoring 2 pieces of clay together: you want as much contact between both surfaces to bond together.

 

Once all of the proper pieces have been sanded, it’s time to start gluing.

 

iii Assembly

Instead of glueing from bottom to top, I highly recommend gluing in chunks of 2-3 pieces, then building upon the combined pieces. Depending on the model, I will start towards the middle (or wherever the model is at its heaviest). This gives it some secured weight to start with when adding the smaller parts. For longer prints like this, do not make the mistake of trying to glue everything at once! There is risk of breaking due to uneven pressure, and worst yet, falling apart before the epoxy has had a chance to cure. Instead, glue several chunks together, then assemble the larger pieces together using the same technique.

 

The epoxy glue states you can mix directly onto the part, however I prefer to have more control over how much and where I use it. Either directly on the print or in some tin foil, mix equal parts A to B. It has a working time of 5 minutes, so definitely keep that in mind. Using a tool of your choosing (palette knife in my case) spread the mixture evenly on each surface.

 

Hold down the pieces and apply firm pressure for about 2 minutes.

 

Allow the several large pieces to cure. I suggest waiting at least 20 minutes before handling again.

 

Once this set has dried, start attaching combined pieces to one another.

 

Final step! Attaching the last few combined pieces.

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