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I am aware of several "clear" filaments for a ABS or PLA printer. They, however, have a cloudy or frosted glass appearance. I do not believe this is possible to eliminate but I believe it can be reduced.

Are there effective ways to make a print have a more transparent appearance?

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It depends on a lot of factors, type of plastic, whether the parts need to be strong, can you use a vase print, etc. Here's a few thoughts.

PLA - The brand of PLA makes a big difference, some can be printed very clear, some can't. Most of the transparent PLAs I've used print much more clear at around 240°C.

ABS - I've seen some pretty impressive clear parts printed as a single layer shell in ABS and then vapor smoothed. I tend to find ABS more translucent and less transparent though.

PETG - Again the specific PETG you use matters, but I haven't seen nearly as much variation as with PLA. I'm not sure how much temperature matters, but if it's too hot you get bubbles which will decrease clarity.

Thin Wall Prints - I don't have much experience here, but the Smooth On XTC-3D or vapor smoothing seem to be effective.

Solid Prints If I want transparency, I usually print it at 100% infill (should be a real 100%, too much overextrusion or underextrusion will decrease transparency). Printing slower and with less cooling sometimes helps. It's easier to get the infill solid with a direct drive extruder, I couldn't get decent results with a long bowden tube (a short bowden tube works fine).

Here's a page where I tested 10 transparent filaments, the printed samples are 2mm thick, 100% infill - http://thrinter.com/10-transparent-filaments. Those samples are all overextruded a bit, you can get better results if you dial in the extrusion precisely, but that's hard to get right, and the optimal settings may change slightly depending on the part geometry. Larger nozzles and thicker layers may help to, but I haven't experimented much with that as there are significant downsides to that approach.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for actually running the linked comparison! $\endgroup$ – TextGeek Jan 28 '16 at 4:10
  • $\begingroup$ It would be nice to include the excellent image, in the link, in this answer, in case the link dies. $\endgroup$ – Greenonline Aug 23 '18 at 19:08
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Use Taulman t-glase and after a light sanding with really fine paper (optional really, but go for it if you can), spray it with polyurethane varnish or something similar. Check out the article here.

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  • $\begingroup$ This seems to work for a thin material as in their examples. Will there still be visible striations in a thicker product? I expect it wouldn't be too high if the temp is sufficient but you might know better. $\endgroup$ – kaine Jan 12 '16 at 20:47
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You can make a mold from the print and then get a cast from that mold with a clear casting material.

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    $\begingroup$ I feel like this, while helpful information is contradictory to the spirit of the site. This is Q&A. You're choosing not to answer the question here but instead imply that the OP is asking the wrong question. $\endgroup$ – deltree Jan 12 '16 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ @deltree if you feel like this is not answering the question, please flag it. There's no such thing as a "spirit of the site". 3D printing has its limitations. Knowledge about technology includes knowledge about when said technology is not well suited for a job or if there's an alternative to it. I did answer the question. If I thought the question was wrong, I would have downvoted it. But I didn't because I think it's perfectly fine. $\endgroup$ – the third dimension Jan 12 '16 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ This method will work successfully if you can polish all the areas of the model that will be visible. So, with ABS it would be relatively easy to vapour polish something printed with really fine layers, make a mould and cast it. Bear in mind that you will be introducing further complexity when opting for this method, such as shrinkage, mould cut lines etc. $\endgroup$ – Dani Epstein Jan 12 '16 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ @deltree I am OP and highly disagree. This acheives the goal I want by merely approaching it in a different way. $\endgroup$ – kaine Jan 13 '16 at 3:09
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    $\begingroup$ the question was: how do I make a 3d print transparent. This answer says "make something else instead". I didn't downvote I'm just pointing out that it explicitly doesn't answer the question. $\endgroup$ – deltree Jan 13 '16 at 3:11

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