The best option for 3D printing in near-transparent plastic is SLA Accura ClearVue, Quick Clear finish. This auto-quoting option prints the part in a clear resin then has a post-process treatment of a clear coat (paint) to even the surface and leave a gloss clear. Think clear ice as a finish. This is not the same as a full polish, such as finishing a headlight, which would require a custom review and pricing due to significant manual labor. The video below shows some Quick Clear parts.
Although they are not optically clear, we have several materials that can hit different needs from light pipes to case bodies. Stereolithography (SLA) is a go-to for transparent or translucent parts. Clear SLA options include Accura 60, Accura ClearVue, Somos WaterClear Ultra 10122, and Somos Watershed XC 11122. SLA parts will have an icicle-like translucency on unsupported features but are matte on features that require a sacrificial support structure. Note that the default finish is matte, so standard or strip-and-ship finishes should be selected if natural translucency is required. SLA parts can be post-finished or polished for higher levels of transparency.
Our PolyJet 3D printed Translucent Rigid Photopolymer (VeroClear) has a frosted translucent finish that can be polished. We also offer FDM 3D printed ABSi, which has a diffused translucency in tints of natural, orange, and red (such as car tail lights). FDM PC-ISO is also a translucent filament in its natural state.
Photo Examples of Translucent Materials
(The left photo demonstrates a VeroClear material in PolyJet 3D. The right photo demonstrates translucent FDM materials with ABSi in Orange and PC-ISO in Translucent Natural)
Ultimately no 3D process can make a perfect transparent or translucent solution out of the machine without significant processing. Milled materials like clear polycarbonate can sometimes be a better fit but will have milling marks on any subtracted surface (they look like small swirls). Xometry can review to make a clear model through a significant amount of manual labor but often the price can be an order-of-magnitude higher than the material quote.
Photo Example of a clear polycarbonate that has been machined by milling.
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