One of the most common questions people ask about 3D printing is, “Can you print clear?” The answer to this question is yes! Clear filament has been around for a little while now and there are even some colored options available.
One thing to keep in mind when using clear filament is that if you’re not careful it will quickly turn into an opaque blob due to how much light passes through it. If you do want your prints semi-transparent then just be sure to take precautions against overexposure or try using frosted glass filament instead.
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Can you 3d print clear? – Printed clear parts
3D printing can create objects that are transparent. It is really good for making parts that need to be see-through. Clear Resin is the best material to use for this.
But you can not print clear with ABS.
It is possible to do it, but the object will warp and there will be lots of problems. PLA can also warp a bit.
3D printing clear is only good for making smaller objects because ABS and PLA plastics shrink when they cool down, and if you make something big out of clear plastic it will get tiny cracks in it.
3D printers print layers on top of each other, so the outside layer is always solid white if you want to print something that should be see-through. Clear Resin does not shrink when it cools down, so there are no problems with that.
Then you just have to paint the one side of the object which is printed on white, and it will be see-through.
Can You 3d Print Clear?
To make clear 3D prints you also need special lasers – Clear plastic parts
You can not print clear plastic with a normal laser printer or something like that. You need some kind of industrial laser machine to do this. It costs about the same as a normal 3D printer.
Clear plastic does not work with FDM printers because they use melted plastic. Clear resin is liquid when it comes out of the printer, and then hardens to something solid very quickly, so if FDM could print it then the object would get all over the printer instead of being inside it where it should be.
This is a photo of some test prints I made for this article, and the one at the bottom right is printed on clear plastic. You can see that it is transparent but you can not really tell what it is supposed to be because there are no details on it. It’s meant to be a part of some kind of machine though. If you look closely you can see white all around the outside, and inside where the object got thicker the layer lines become visible as well.
3D printing clear might sound fun, but I actually think it does not work very well for most things.
It looks cool if you want to make something that is transparent or semi-transparent, but mostly it just takes time and money which could be used to make something better.
Best infill for transparent filament. The best way to get a clear print is with no infill. But you could also use 100% infill and print it slowly, with no cooling. Simplify3D does it a little differently.
Can You 3d Print Clear?
Things to print with clear filament – Print clear plastic
I was talking about it in my previous article, but I’ve decided to write short reviews of things I printed with clear filament.
First up is the tiny robot bracelet by Tomek Zawada (available here ). Its design is so great that I wanted to hang onto it all for me, but after printing mine out in translucent white, clear, and glow-in-the-dark PLA I thought other people might also appreciate having them around. It’s just a nice piece of jewelry anyway
The first version has his little robot there already, while the other two are plain bracelets that can be loaded with your own 3D designs – just paste them into the bracelet using adhesive tape Unlike some other filaments this one is not completely transparent.
It’s more like a colorless glass with some hints of white and very little yellow, so it has a kind of attractive opal look to it. Despite that, you can still notice the shapes on the other side easily enough.
The following two prints were meant for this robot bracelet – an alien head from Mars Attacks by the player (available here ) and a cast-iron weight from Torchlight 2. The model was printed in transparent UV reactive PLA, which glows bright green under an ultraviolet light source. As I do not have any blacklights at home right now I decided to substitute them with my trusty phone flashlight 🙂
The first time I printed something with glow-in-the-dark filament was this little robot from Atomic Age Robot by Sam Cornwell. It’s a small, cute model with the main character of the story and it makes a nice toy or decoration for your room. The print was done in white PLA and I just used some dark green enamel to paint over its eyes and chest panel.
Can You 3d Print Clear?
The last two things I printed were these gorgeous 3D-printed pewter keychains
They come pre-colored so all you need to do is add a key ring – this way you get an incredibly detailed jewelry piece that nobody else has! You can also use them as contemporary parts for miniature wargaming. The model is originally designed by Alex Griendling and it’s a part of the original 3D printed pewter collection (available here ).
The last print we’ll take a look at today is this really cool dagger from Ancient Weapons pack II. It was created by Michael Kontraros with his unique modeling style, so you can expect to be awed even before opening your slicer 🙂 After printing it in black PLA I varnished it with transparent matte nail polish and added some gold leaf on the handle. This way it keeps its shining but becomes less visible on photographs.
Both metal prints were done in white PLA and then patinated with dark brown craft paint to achieve a “weathered bronze” effect. As the paint is smooth it’s easy to apply and clean up, so you can experiment with various colors too.
The last two things I’d like to show you today are this lovely earring by liz15 and this detailed model of a head based on photographs – The Gatekeeper by Jurgen Krooshoop.
As for the former, any regular printer should be able to produce these just fine using PLA filament. The print was done in white PLA and then painted with transparent enamel for extra color depth. I especially love the fact that each earring has its own little ghostly figure painted onto it
As for the latter, I used silver metallic acrylic paint instead of varnish because it’s much easier to apply on ABS.
The print itself was done in white ABS and the sculpting was done by Eva Ekeblad. It’s a really cool model, so be sure to check out her other works too!
Can You 3d Print Clear?
3D printing clear polycarbonate plastic on a desktop FDM 3D printer – (clear pla filament, clear abs filament)
The material I use for this is Colorfabb XT Clear, which is currently readily available from our webshop. The color of the plastic itself has nothing to do with the idea, you can just as well use transparent clear ABS or PLA instead of XT if you want a different look and feel.
You can also try other high-temperature resistant polymers like Taulman T-glass, but I can’t give any guarantee that these will work since I have not tried them myself. If you know of another polymer that works fine at higher temperatures please let me know in the comments below!
In my experience, it’s best to print this stuff between 240 and 260 degrees Celsius.
You can see both the printed parts and the settings from Cura, Slic3r, and Simplify3D. The models were printed with a 0.2mm layer height, 2 perimeters, and 25% infill. For Colorfabb XT Clear an extra 3 shells are recommended since it’s relatively brittle when not given enough material to bond to.
Solid infills should work fine also but results may vary depending on your printer preferences and printer setup! There are different techniques for cooling: With my printer (Prusa i3 Mk2s) I just turn up the fan speed while printing so that it’s high enough to cool down the nozzle between layers but not so high that the fan sucks in the printed material through the nozzle. This way I ensure that both PLA and XT-Clear remain soft while being printed but solidify quick enough to prevent any drooling during prints.
I have not tried printing this stuff on a Bowden set up, so please let me know if you manage to print it successfully with a Bowden setup!
Can You 3d Print Clear?
Transparent 3D printing service
For example, Shapeways has recently partnered with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York to bring 14 contemporary artists’ work to life. With this project, visitors at the museum can see and purchase these 3D printed items.
The resulting exhibition, entitled “Design an”The Elastic Mind,” features 80 unique art pieces from artists such as Marco Brambilla, Doze Green, and Paul Kaiser. These works are all displayed across three floors at MoMA’s Pérez Galleries — just a stone’s throw away from Manhattan’s bustling Central Park.
Those who cannot attend the opening reception on February 13th will be able to visit the gallery during official opening hours for between four and six weeks. Initially launched back in 2008, MoMA’s Design and The Elastic Mind exhibition will showcase a broad range of how contemporary designers have been inspired by the past, as well as their own materials and technology.
The 14 new pieces added to Design and The Elastic Mind all made use of Shapeways’ 3D printing services.
MoMA had approached the company with the aim of breathing life into some modern art — and it seems like they’ve succeeded on both fronts. By presenting these works in such a fashion, visitors will be able to see that 3D printed items can be things of beauty too — not just functional tools or everyday objects (which is what we’ve seen thus far).
What’s more, the artists featured at the event will also benefit from this collaborative project by reaching a wider audience.
Can You 3d Print Clear?
“With this partnership, MoMA is integrating design into its curatorial practice by offering museum visitors the ability not only to experience contemporary 3D printed objects on-site but also purchase them online,” said William Macher, Vice President of Global Partnerships at Shapeways. “For the first time ever, people will be buying art while visiting a museum.”
According to MoMA’s chief curator of prints and illustrated books, Dorothy C. Miller, these 3D printed pieces are largely indicative of how artists are using new technologies in their work today. She believes that these designs highlight some key moments in recent history so far as their respective mediums are concerned — all while showing us where the technology may take us in the future.
“Looking at the variety of objects in the exhibition, there’s no question that technology is behind their creation,” said Miller.
“From old to new technologies, it’s clear that artists working today are embracing technological advances with enthusiasm and using them to develop astonishingly creative work.”
The 14 3D printed designs featured at the MoMA Design and The Elastic Mind exhibition include:
There will also be a number of 3D printed jewelry pieces available for purchase via mobile phone at the event — just in case you want to leave with something even more special. Price tags on each piece range from $75 for smaller items (like rings) to around $1,000 for larger ones (like vessels).
With prices like these, Shapeways’ 3D printed items are likely to attract a whole new demographic of customers who have never been exposed to its service before.
Can You 3d Print Clear?
Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing can create transparent objects by using transparent resins. It is one of the most expensive processes with an average price of $18-20 per cubic inch (info for this article was kindly provided by Mark Pivac ).
So I would like to introduce you to my new experiment – creating pretty pieces of jewelry which are hand-painted with acrylic paint and sealed with varnish leaving them more durable than regular SLA 3D printed items.
There are two options for creating pieces of jewelry with transparent materials:
1) Use existing software for raster engraving/laser cutting or water jet cutting machines that can control light power on various levels according to height map information fed into it. These machines are very expensive, but they have unlimited possibilities of design.
2) Use an SLA 3D printer.
I’m using the second option because I want to be able to print unique jewelry pieces which will fit any outfit and won’t cost much.
Some examples of custom 3D printed costume jewelry created with Shapeways by photographer Tal Peleg ( Tal P ) . Tal is working with professional model Yana Toyber :
I was almost ready to give up on getting good results for this project when Tal gave me some very helpful tips ( Tal P thank you again! ) :
1) Use lower layer height (0.025mm-0.05mm). Creating shadows requires many layers, so it is very important that they are as thin as possible.
2) Use thick walls (0.8mm-1.5 mm). By default, I use 0.4mm wall thickness which creates transparent frames, but it does not work for this project because resin tends to crack within the frame if it’s too thin.
3) Create a full-contour path around the object without leaving any gaps between different parts of the design and the border of the model itself (especially between fine structures like hair or grass in “The Girl” ring design example, which is supposed to be worn on your index finger). It takes a lot of time to print such models, but you won’t have issues with breakage during the post-production process.
I printed these pieces with transparent resin (Clear Resin SLA 3D Printer Resin by Prodways France ).
Transparency is not perfect, but it looks pretty decent for jewelry designs that are supposed to be somewhat translucent, so I think it’s acceptable. When printing small details like hair or grass, transparency disappears because the light can’t pass through all the layers of resin. Many people use transparent epoxy putty to fill in gaps between different smooth surfaces on models, so you could probably do something similar with your mixed resins too if you had some spare.
Can You 3d Print Clear?
Can you 3d print glass?
Yes, producing glass objects using 3D printing is not easy. Only a few groups around the world have tried to do this by printing molten glass. The problem with this is that it requires very high temperatures and heat-resistant equipment.
Normally glass is an amorphous material which means it is not the most stable thing to print with. However, in this post, I will show you that there are surprisingly simple solutions to 3D printing glass using a stereolithography printer which normally prints using photopolymers.
The idea came up when studying the properties of materials for my Ph.D. when I noticed that glass has several interesting properties which makes it very suitable for additive manufacturing (AM) by laser-based techniques such as stereolithography. The main property is that glass is transparent in some wavelength bands while being opaque in others. This is a perfect property for masking a laser beam, which makes it possible to deposit only the areas you want.
The second main reason for this post is that I have been getting more and more questions about printing with molten glass from people around the world who had read my thesis or found me online. I’m both happy and surprised by this as I never thought so many would be interested in 3D printing glass objects! But now let’s get started on how we can use your standard SLA printer to print glass objects…
In order to 3d print a glass object first we need to do some preparation on where we want our cross-section on the object. To do this firstly draw a sketch on paper of the object you want to print.
Use the sketch and a ruler to determine where your cross-sections will be. It’s important that the slices are as thin as possible (thinner than 1mm) but still thick enough not to break when handling it. To make sure they don’t break we need to strengthen them extra so I normally use a glass fiber mat which is available from many different websites. Cut out all of the pieces you want in your model, glue them together with some standard white school glue and then let it dry for at least 24 hours. Now cut out stencils from stencil plastic or cardboard that have an opening just big enough for each piece of glass fiber.
Now it’s time for the messy part where we fire up the laser and melt the glass together.
To do this place a piece of masking paper over your print bed and then place one of your pieces on it with the masking paper between them.
Next, we need to set up our laser cutter/engraver, make sure that you use high-quality acrylic as we will be working at very high temperatures (135-180°C) and lower-quality material can warp or even catch fire. We also want to make sure the material is at room temperature before starting as too much heat will affect how well it works.
To start cutting simply load some standard 224 fiber-reinforced, pre-pigmented photopolymer resin, place a fiber mat stencil on top of that, then remove the masking paper stencil.
Can You 3d Print Clear?
Now you can start up your laser cutter/engraver and simply cut out all of the pieces .
Depending on how powerful your laser is you may need to alter some settings, but I normally set it to 500-1000 pulses at 15% power (25mm/s). The key here is to get a nice clean cut while not overheating or melting your material. After cutting turn off the fiber laser cutter without leaving it for too long else it could warp (if this happens put it back in the freezer for about 30 minutes).
After cutting all of your pieces using a sharp blade carefully separate them from their current position. If they are stuck together using a rubber mallet or a hammer to hit them apart. You can also clean the edges up with some sandpaper if needed, but this isn’t necessary.
Now it’s time to glue your pieces together. For this, we will be using a clear two-component epoxy which is available at most hardware stores or online. Make sure you mix both parts equally and wear gloves while doing so as it cures in about 15 minutes and starts off quite viscous (similar to honey). Once fully mixed apply the glue liberally around the edge of one piece until all of the pieces are glued on. Now, wait for around 20-30 minutes till everything has set properly and you’re ready to go!
As mentioned previously glass objects printed with this method are not very strong and can break when dropped or hit with something like a hammer.
To make them stronger use clear casting resin (the same type used in SLA resin printers) to cast silicon rubber molds which you can then fill with molten glass.
To cast the mold simply mix up some clear casting resin twice as much as usual and pour it into your pieces.
It is best to work in layers letting each layer set for about 1-2 hours before pouring in the next layer and repeating this process till all of your pieces have been filled. Once fully cured separate your mold from the polymer clay, trim off any excess resin, and sand down any rough areas.
Now simply heat up some safety glass until it starts turning red but doesn’t melt and pour it into the mold.
Once cooled and set, and any excess glass shaved off you can peel your silicon rubber mold away from the glass.
I normally use a wire to cut around the edge of the piece before shoving a blade between them and prying them apart. If there are still some bits stuck together I will put my new object back in the freezer for 30-60 minutes so they shrink slightly making it easier to pull apart.
Repeat this process as many times as needed for each piece until everything has been cast. Remember that anything over 3mm thick may have defects that can be sanded down or cut out with a grinder/wire wheel etc…
Now all that’s left is to enjoy your final product!
Can You 3d Print Clear?
Molten glass 3D printer at high temperature
Bend the filament to a solid rod What we intended to do is generate some media buzz and decided to create an entirely new 3D printing material.
To accomplish our goal we partnered up with Faberdashery and announced on Friday afternoon that we will release a new 3D printing filament called “BENDLAY” in early November 2013. When people read the press release they were intrigued by this very unusual material, so it seemed like a success already.
How BENDLAY works The success of the campaign caused us to put up extra hours in order to answer all questions about how BENDLAY actually works.
People are mainly excited because it’s something they didn’t know even existed until now, but also because the material seems like a promising way to make objects with complex geometry and without using support material.
We also got some great questions, and we will answer them here: Is it possible to bend the filament before 3D printing?
— Yes It’s very easy actually, you can use any vise or even your own hands. Just don’t overdo it as the filament is made of ABS plastic (not really bendable) and you might break it.
Can You 3d Print Clear? (cre: xometry)
Is BENDLAY printed similarly to other filaments?
— Yes, the process is about the same as for FDM printing
The printer needs to be set up in ‘Extrusion’ mode – not ‘Compact Extrusion’ mode – but instead ‘Bridging’ or ‘Regular Extrusion’. We found that the best results are achieved by setting the temperature to 240°C and printing speed to 40mm/s.
Is it possible to print overhangs with BENDLAY ?
— Overhangs might require support material, but you can get away without it starting from 45 degrees or more angle.
For example, if you want to print an arch without support material – just increase the downward angle of filament extrusion so that part of it will be bent upwards by 90 degrees. If the surface is too sketchy after removing support material just add a brim around your object in order for heatbed to keep it in place during the cooling down process.
If I bend a printed object, will it snap?
— Not if you don’t do it too aggressively. The objects are bendable up to about 180 degrees – so if it’s bent more, pieces might break off. You can straighten the object back by dipping it in hot water for a few seconds, or simply leave it bent and use the new shape as a unique feature of your design (for example look at the vase that was made in our demo video).
If I print BENDLAY on the flexible bed will it work?
— Yes, but only with materials that stick well to PEI surface like ABS does. Materials with less adhesion might curl up due to high printing speed when printed on heated bed (we used 60°C in our testing)
Can You 3d Print Clear? (cre: stratasys)
How many meters of BENDLAY is included in the “Bendlay bundle”?
— The quantity of filament provided is equal to a number of meters calculated from the volume difference between 1.75mm and 2,85mm diameter spools. So if you have a 0,75kg/m spool you will get about 100-110m of Bendlay.
Can I print using multiple colors?
— In theory, yes, but we haven’t tried it yet as the idea behind Bendlay was to use a single color without requiring any post-processing. Also, bendable material might affect performance when feeding multiple filaments into one nozzle – so there’s a chance that not everything goes smoothly in that case. We will definitely be giving this a go when the time comes.
How flexible is BENDLAY? Will it break if I sit on/roll over it?
— The filament behaves very similar to ABS – you can bend and twist it quite a lot without worrying about breaking it. It feels softer than PLA or PetG, but at the same time more durable. You probably will not be able to break it unless you put too much force on it intentionally. We certainly did not manage to damage Bendlay during our testing period.
Can you vacuum form objects printed in BENDLAY?
Not really – bendable material bends away from heated nozzle whereas non-bendable one usually sticks well to the surface during the cooling down process which makes creating smooth curves easy (for example – vacuum form objects with ABS).
Bendlay is bendable, but it pretty much behaves like injected molded ABS, so it’s not really suitable for vacuum forming. It still retains some level of stiffness which makes it useful in other areas though.
We are working on getting more Bendlay by the end of May and will be ready to send out new orders at that time. If you have any questions feel free to ask them here or on our Facebook page, we’ll do our best to reply as soon as possible!
3D printing clear objects is still a bit of a challenge. However, the process has been made easier with new advancements in technology and techniques for achieving transparency. The question of whether or not you can print clear products on your own at home will depend largely on what type of printer you have access to. If it’s an older model that cannot produce transparent materials, then you may be out of luck when trying to create something like a vase or glass jar that’s see-through from all angles.
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