How to Glue ABS Plastic for 3D Printing: Cosplay Adhesive Guide

3D printers can make amazingly accurate and detailed sculpted costume elements like armor, bracers, helmets, and much more. The biggest limitation cosplayers face with 3D printing, besides access to equipment, is the size of the pieces they want to make. Because most large 3D printed pieces made with ABS plastic have to be broken up into segments to fit in the printer, you’ll need to know what types of glue you can use in order to assemble your pieces, not to mention attach them to the rest of your cosplay. In this post, we’ll explain how to glue ABS plastic with common cosplay adhesives and how to fix any gaps that you might find in your 3D print during assembly.

Best Glues for ABS Plastic

ABS plastic colors

  1. Super glue: Super glue (cyanoacrylate) is one of the most popular glues for ABS plastic. One of the biggest advantages of gluing ABS with super glue is that you’ll get a nearly instant hold, which means that even heavier or sculptural pieces have a good chance of staying together. However, you’ll need to be incredibly careful when applying super glue because any drips will be difficult to hide or sand off. However, most super glue comes in small bottles with precise tips for easy application.
  2. 2-part epoxy: 2-part epoxies like JB Weld provide a lot of the same benefits as super glue when used with ABS plastic. 2-part epoxy glues, once mixed, need to be applied to your piece and adhered quickly, but once you do that, the bond will be almost instant. 2-part epoxy adds a lot of structural strength to your printed piece. You’ll need to watch for any adhesive that might squish out from your seams and wipe it away quickly. It’s also an option for reinforcing your inner seams after they’ve been superglued together.
  3. Attach & Build double-sided adhesive sheets: Attach & Build sheets are a double-sided, peel and stick adhesive that produce no mess, no fumes, and an instant hold. While Attach & Build may not be ideal for very thin seams, it’s perfect for adhering larger, flatter pieces of ABS plastic. Because Attach & Build is compatible with all the most common cosplay materials, you can use it to stick ABS to just about anything else without worry.
  4. Putty fillers: Finally, for ABS pieces that you’re planning to prime and paint, a putty filler is a good solution for gluing pieces that you’ve noticed beforehand that have printing imperfections or gaps. While the other glues on our list can be used to fill in smaller gaps, something like a putty filler is best for larger gaps. Because the putty isn’t clear, you should be sure to sand, prime, and paint any pieces you’re using a putty filler on.

Fixing the Gaps in ABS Plastic

Jumpsuit cosplayWhile 3D printers can be really accurate most of the time, the technology isn’t perfect. Sometimes, your designs might have been a little off, or small pieces of plastic can break off or need to be sanded down, leaving gaps between your ABS plastic pieces when you go to assemble them. However, this doesn’t mean that your cosplay is ruined. With a little extra care during assembly, you can fill in those gaps and make it look like your print came out nearly perfectly.

One of the best tips for fixing gaps you might find in your ABS plastic is to match up the most detailed side of your pieces when you glue them together. For example, if one side of your helmet has more details carved into the ABS, you want to glue that side with something like super glue as perfectly as possible. That way, you won’t have to worry about adding those details back in by hand. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to fill only the largest gaps with another adhesive or filler, which when sanded down, primed, and painted, nobody will ever notice.