If you are thinking about 3D printing a decoration piece like a lampshade for yourself. It’s best to print with clear PLA. It is an easy, cheap, and widely available printing material in the market. It has all the properties of standard PLA material. In addition to that, it can enable light to directly pass through the product.
3D printing with this material is not as simple as simple PLA filament. The smallest change in the printing setting will decide between transparent and translucent 3d printing. Transparent 3d print allows maximum light to pass through it like glass. Translucent is a semi-transparent 3d print with a milky texture that only allows light to pass partially.
Before starting it is important to know all about your clear PLA filament like how PLA filament is transparent, how to print better with clear filament, and how to get the best out of our transparent PLA products.
How PLA became Clear PLA?
In its purest form, PLA is a semi-transparent material with a little yellow shade in the final 3d print. To develop colors, manufacturers have to add the required color in PLA material. To make the material fully transparent, the manufacturer has to perform the process of condensation of polymerization. Each uses metal catalysts and lactide chemicals with heating to make PLA fully transparent.
How to print better with clear PLA filament?
Printing clear PLA filament is not different from printing a standard PLA material. It just needs some extra printer settings to make the final print fully transparent. These settings include higher layer height, higher hot end temperature, lower infill, Lower print speed, and post-processing. Practice with your clear filament is the only way to have a perfect transparent 3d print.
- Higher layer height: while printing clear PLA helps get the best transparent 3d print. This is because light rays when passing through different layers divert more than they divert when passing through a single layer. So layer means the lesser diversion of light and less light diversion means a transparent product. A layer height of 0.4 mm is recommended for this purpose. To achieve this layer height a larger nozzle diameter of 0.8 or 1 mm is needed. The use of higher layer height and larger nozzle diameter reduces the surface finish quality but this effect is minimal and can be reduced with heat treatment.
- A higher hot-end temperature: with clear PLA helps develop a glossy texture. This glossy texture makes it easy for light to pass through the layers with minimum diversion. Higher hot end temperatures also provide better joining of layers giving more strength to the product. This helps to overcome the reduced print quality by increasing the layer height.
- Lower infill: of 3d printing means reducing the amount of material involved in printing. In 3D printing, products are neither completely solid nor hollow. Mechanical properties like strength depend on the infill ratio. During the printing of clear PLA, the infill works against the transparency of the material. It’s not possible to reduce the infill to zero so experimenting to find the best infill ratio is the only solution. When the infill ratio can not be reduced further due to geometric or other constraints. Then experiments to reduce the visibility of the infill are done. This involves trying different infill patterns like concentric infill that do not leave any mark on boundaries.
- Reducing print speed: during printing clear PLA makes the print more transparent and of high quality. This allows the material to bond better for better strength and cleaner for higher transparency. A slow printing speed of just 20 mm per second is recommended for printing clear PLA filament for better transparency and print strength.
- Solvent vapor bath: is a process done on 3d printed parts that are printed using clear filament. The process involves applying a solvent solution to the part and then washing it with clean water. There are two methods of applying solvent vapor bath solution. The first method involves spraying the solvent vapors onto the 3d print. The spray should be very light to deposit a very thin layer of solvent on the product. The second method is the manual application of solvent on the product via a brush or any other tool.
In both cases, the solvent solution should be washed from the 3d print after 10 minutes. Washing of solvent should be done similarly to the solvent deposition. Water should either be spared or by manual brushing. Do not dip the 3d print in the water tank to remove the solvent. Dry the 3d print thoroughly after washing. If desired results are not obtained after the first process, wait for about 30 minutes before applying another layer of solvent.
How to get the best out of our clear PLA filament
After understanding all the printer settings for clear PLA printing, it’s now important to know what can be printed with clear PLA and how to enhance the transparency of the 3d printed part. Most items printed using clear PLA are decoration pieces like flower pots and lamp shades. Bestway to enhance the transparency of the flower pots is to place dark or bright-colored flowers that are visible and distinguished from the pot. For lampshades using led lights of different colors will also get you the best out of your clear PLA filament.
Conclusion on Clear PLA filament
Clear PLA is one of the best options to print transparent 3d prints, especially home decoration pieces like flower pots and lamp shades. Printing clear PLA is much like a standard PLA filament but to get a fully transparent 3d print some specific printer settings are needed. These settings include higher layer height, lower infill ratio, higher hot end temperature, slower printing speed, and a solvent solution bath. There is no perfect setting for a particular application and practice is the only solution for your perfect transparent 3d print. After printing with clear PLA a display strategy will enhance the appearance and transparency of the 3d printed part.