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Quest for a clear print

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Triggered by the request of TMrevlje http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:175065. Cutting the top I inserted a blue or red filament to see it from outside.

Using Ultimaker 2.

First I started with Colorfabb XT and used the setting Colorfabb recommend:

- 240C/70C

- 0.27mm height

- 0.8 thickness

- 0.8 top/bottom

- 0 infill

- 30mm/s

- Flow at 110%

- No cooling fan

- Cooling time per layer was at 5 sec making it go slower and slower near the end.

- Cool head lift was on but was only triggered on the last layer.

All the following prints will detail only the changes made to the PREVIOUS print settings.

Model was printed standing up so layers are mostly aligned with the tube. Supports done in Meshmixer.


- XT (all above settings)

I found it a bit too white and not clear enough


- Use Ultimaker Natural PLA (clear)

- 225C/60C

Difference between PLA(left) and XT(right)

IMG 20140730 212721

PhotoGrid 1406770211490


All the following are using Ultimaker Natural PLA




- Try with the model like shown in Thingiverse (sideways) + supports using Cura


Difference between print 2(left) and 3(right)

PhotoGrid 1406770292976




- Going back standing but with less supports to remove as much as possible the head jumps.

- Remove cool time per layer


The print was too hot with no cool timer and no fan




- 210C

- Fan 100%

- 20mm/s


Difference between print 2 (left) and 5 (right)

IMG 20140730 215813




- Removing top/bottom (set to 0.0 instead of 0.8mm). I remove it because it add infill everywhere the shell thickness of 0.8mm per layer doesnt create the required top/bottom thickness. It cause the head to jump to go fill the gap once the shell is complete.


Difference between print 5 and 6

IMG 20140730 221708




- 190C


Too cold


Difference between print 6(left) and 7(right)

IMG 20140730 223910



- Back to 225C

Difference between print 6(left) and 8(right)

IMG 20140730 225618


- Back to 30 mm/s

Too fast and too hot (even with fans)

Difference between print 6(left), 8(center) and 9(right)

IMG 20140730 231245




All the prints from 1(top left) to 9 (bottom right)

IMG 20140730 232049




So overall my findings are:

- print 6 is the most clear print

- print 8 is second but is more constant than 6

- printing at between 210C and 225C at 20mm/s with fans is good.

- having the cool layer time will bring change in transparency due to print speed changes.

- every single time the nozzle extrude filament you will reduce transparency. If infill gets added you see it. Depending on the print it might be possible to remove top/bottom if not try to keep it lower than shell thickness


- I need to test again with other transparent filament. I have 2 translucent (blue and green) from Faberdashery. They are very light so it may give interesting results

- I need to test layer height (smaller and bigger).


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Thanks for this extensive testing of the model with Colorfabb's XT material, just as you said the number 6 and 8 do seem best, I would go for number 6. Will use your settings and try it with the "Transparent Red" I received from Colorfabb.

Will also most certainly invest in a spool or two of the XT, it seems a material to be played with, capable of achieving some really cool results.

Looking forward to your results with the translucent green and blue.


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You can do some cool stuff with XT, it prints more clear when heated up (250°c with no fan) and more opaque when lower 235°c with 100% fan.

You can see the difference here:

20140702 192448


I think that spiralize helps with transparency also.


20140601 202447


This is a print in Ultimaker Natural PLA:


It's more opaque because of the shell thickness


IMG 0877


But put a Led in it:


IMG 0873

Overall regarding transparency i think that Natural PLA from Ultimaker does a good job


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You should take a look at this.

1. The material: Taulman T-Glase. Should be a good material. XT is probably very similar to T-Glase, although I haven't directly compared the materials myself.

I love XT, but mainly for it's stability and ease of printing. Prints get somewhat transparent, but I believe XT is more optimized towards strength and printability than optical aspects.


2. The information on how to print stuff to get the best "transparent" aesthetics: Print with a big nozzle (if possible), maximum layer height and as few shells as possible. You can see that they get very nice results with their tests.

If you want to add another material to your list: BendLay is another clear filament. Afaik it's a PET-G material, much like XT or T-Glase, but I'm not sure about that.

I've got a roll here, but haven't printed anything with it yet o.O


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Ok, so it's not so much the material that matters, but how you print it ;)

Large diameter nozzle and thick layers = nice transparency.

ABS and acetone is probably the only solution that doesn't need a larger nozzle.

And I bet that you get the best results when you combine both large nozzle & layer height with ABS and acetone finishing ;)


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It might work, but it is considerably more dangerous to handle than acetone!

Acetone vapour actually doesn't "explode" when you light it on fire, but burns more like a candle (still I wouldn't try it, but you can look it up on youtube). Whereas many other flammable gases will light up in a fireball, or will just be unhealthy when inhaled in the first place.


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Gr5 mentioned somewhere that Ethyl Acetate worked on PLA like Acetone on ABS.


I wonder if it would work on XT or T-Glase.


Actually, acetone works on XT, T-glase, and PET+. Similar to the Ethyl Acetate with PLA, results are much more dependent on technique and settings than they are with ABS. I've found that a very short exposure works incredibly well, but if you overdo it, the material starts to whiten. I suspect that the amount of moisture in the air either when printing or polishing may also be a factor.

There is a lot of room for optimization and deeper understanding, but it's a starting point. Also, this blog post was done with the original lower temperature XT. Not sure if I've tried it with the newer XT yet.



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OK, I'm going to deviate from conventional wisdom here. I've gotten some nice clarity with t-glase, trans ABS, etc. by using thin layers. The lack of clarity comes from air bubbles breaking up the light's path through the material. Using thick layers with a single perimeter to get round extrusions of solid material is one way to avoid air gaps, although you get a side wall that's ribbed (the new 2-part epoxy Smooth-On coating or vapor smoothing addresses that issue).

I've experimented and had some good results by using thin layers (below 0.1mm), increasing temperature, increasing extrusion flow, and printing slowly (without a fan, if the material doesn't droop). By smashing down heavy layers of hotter-than-usual plastic, it flows and conforms better, minimizing air gaps. I've gotten some clear parts with multiple perimeters that way. It's not perfect, but I think it looks better than the recommended 0.3+ single wall results. YMMV.


I have this sticker on my machine, under the bed. printing clear reminder


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I'll look around and see if I have a good example. One thing I've found is that t-glase has a lot of pigment, such that the transparency is kinda lost when you have multiple perimeters (at least the red and blue, which is what I've got). I'm guessing they designed with single wall prints in mind.


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I had a lot of luck just using regular clear PLA, a drilled out old nozzle (1mm micro bit from harbor freight), .7mm layer height (70% of nozzle width). So, 1mm nozzle, .7mm layer height, 25mm/s print speed

Tried same setup in T-Glase as well. T-glase wasn't as clear in my case as the clear PLA. Keep in mind I was using 2 perimeters (2mm wall thickness).

Will be trying the Clear ABS and acetone vapor next.


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