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Everything You Need to Know About Clear 3D Printer Filament

Aug 03,2023 | 3D4Create

Clear 3D printer filament opens up exciting possibilities for creative 3D printing applications. As 3D printing with clear filament grows in popularity, understanding how to print successfully with these materials is key.

This guide will provide an in-depth look at clear 3D printer filament - from types of clear filament to example applications and tips for improving your clear 3D prints.

Feature Description
Filament Types Clear PLA, PETG, ABS, TPU, PC
Optical Properties High light transmittance, glass-like clarity, transparent, translucent options
Print Difficulty Medium - dialing in temperature is key to clarity without defects
Impact Resistance PLA and PETG have medium impact resistance. ABS and PC have high impact resistance
Heat Resistance PLA low, PETG medium, ABS and PC high heat resistance
Finishing Methods Polishing, sanding, coating can enhance optical clarity
Post-Processing Cleaning/preventing dust is key for clarity. Annealing can reduce internal stresses.
Common Uses Lighting fixtures, liquid reservoirs, lenses, vases, decorative prints
Limitations Can yellow over time. Susceptible to scratching.
Printer & Nozzle 0.4mm nozzle. Dual extrusion useful for soluble supports.

 

I. Overview of Clear 3D Printing Filaments

There are several types of clear 3D printer filament available, each with their own characteristics and best uses.

1. PLA

Clear PLA is one of the most widely used clear 3D printing filaments. It offers high optical clarity and is easy to print. Clear PLA is ideal for visual models, lighting effects, and decorative prints. It has a low glass transition temperature, making it unsuitable for high-heat applications. Besides, when printing with PLA, you should also pay attention to printing temperature, printing settings and so on.

2. ABS

Clear ABS filament provides good transparency and durability. It is tougher than PLA, but also more challenging to print successfully. Clear ABS works well for functional prints and applications needing high heat resistance. Proper cooling is critical for clear ABS 3D printing.

3. PETG

Clear PETG combines the durability of ABS with the printability of PLA. It offers good optical clarity but less than pure PLA. Clear PETG handles higher temperatures than PLA, making it suitable for lighting fixtures and other applications needing heat resistance.

4. Polycarbonate

Clear polycarbonate filament provides the highest heat resistance, durability, and clarity. However, it is difficult to print and requires high extrusion temperatures. Clear polycarbonate is ideal when optical clarity, toughness, and heat resistance are critical.

 

II. Benefits of Clear 3D Printing

Switching to clear 3D printer filament provides some unique advantages over opaque filament.

1. Visualization

The optical clarity of clear filament enables internal visualization of models. Being able to see inside 3D printed parts is hugely beneficial for scientific and educational uses.

2. Lighting Effects

Light readily passes through transparent 3D printed objects. This creates opportunities for lighting effects like light pipes, illuminated signs, and lamp shades. Clear filament opens up many new options for lighting-based prints.

3. Decorations

Clear filament can create uniquely stunning decorative or practical prints like vases, sculptures, and pen holders. The see-through appearance stands out compared to opaque prints.

Transparent 3D Printer Filament PLA

 

IV. How to Print With Clear Filament

To achieve the best results with clear 3D printer filament, following some basic guidelines is recommended:

1. Printer Settings

Slow down the print speed to 25-50mm/s for clear materials. This gives adequate time for layers to cool and bond properly. Reduce retraction distances to 4-5mm to prevent clogs.

2. Filament Care

Store clear filament in a cool, dry environment away from moisture and sunlight to prevent clouding. Use a filament dryer before printing if humidity is an issue. 

SUNLU S1 Plus Filament Dryer Box - Drying Filament During 3D Printing

SUNLU S1 Plus Filament Dryer Box

3. Post-Processing

Sanding, polishing, annealing, and coating may help improve optical clarity on sensitive prints. Remove any support material carefully to avoid damaging the surface. Here is also a discussion about "What is the best way to remove PLA supports from 3D prints?" on Quora.

 

V. Example Uses of Clear 3D Prints

Here are some of the most common applications for clear 3D printer filament:

1. Scientific Models

Clear filament is hugely beneficial for anatomical models, molecular structures, and architectural visualizations. Seeing interior components improves educational value.

2. Artistic Creations

Artists and designers use clear filament to make one-of-a-kind art pieces, jewelry, vases, and sculptures with embedded effects. Illumination creates a stunning appearance.

3. Functional Parts

Transparent filament enables functional prints like housings, cases, and components requiring visibility of internal mechanics. Clear filament is often used for lighting fixtures as well.

Transparent/Clear 3D Printing – The Ultimate Guide | All3DP Pro

Transparent/Clear 3D Printing Models (photo: All3DP Pro)

 

VI. Conclusion

Clear 3D printer filament opens up an exciting range of applications and possibilities unavailable with opaque materials. With a variety of clear filament options now available, the ability to produce transparent prints is better than ever.

Following the right printing guidelines and techniques will help unlock the full potential of clear 3D printing. The visual appeal and functionality of crystal clear printed objects make exploring clear filament a worthwhile endeavor for any 3D printing enthusiast.

 

FAQS:

1. What causes clouding in clear 3D prints?

Clouding can be caused by moisture absorption, inadequate cooling, too much retraction, or the natural tendency of some plastics to haze over time. Storing filament properly and optimizing print settings can help minimize clouding.

2. Does clear filament require a special printer nozzle?

Most standard brass nozzles will work fine with clear materials. Some choose to use specialized nozzle coatings like ruby to improve performance, but these are not required.

3. How thick can you print with clear filament?

Clear materials can be printed at any thickness, but very thick prints may start to reduce optical clarity and require longer print times. For maximum clarity, keep wall thicknesses under 3-4mm.

 

See Also:

How Do Filament Color Influence 3D Print Strength?

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