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Transparent 3D Printing Filament

Achieving transparent 3D prints can be tricky, and much care must be taken to get the best results. In this article, we’ll discuss whether full transparency can be reached, transparent FDM filament options, and transparent alternatives to FDM. For clarity, this article will only discuss filament for industrial FDM 3D printing

Is Full Transparency Possible?

Full transparency requires that light is not refracted, or distorted, as it passes through an object. Unfortunately, FDM 3D printing uses print head nozzles that create parts with rounded layer boundaries as the material is extruded. Given the curved shape, light is easily refracted as it passes through the layers and makes 100% transparency impossible regardless of material, printer settings, or post-processing practices. This means that a part produced with clear material via FDM 3D printing will turn out to be translucent, or blurry, when looked through. 

However, by altering printer settings and design specifications, it is possible to control this translucency so near perfect transparency may be achieved. For printer settings, layer height may be adjusted to be larger so that it takes fewer layers to construct the part. With fewer layers, there are fewer boundaries against which light may refract, though using larger layers may mean that smaller features of your part are less defined. These larger layers will also