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Is there any commonly printed plastic which I can buy that might be transparent to UV light?

I wish to print a mould, then pour in my plastic which requires a UV light to activate the curing process.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, there are plastics which are transparent to visible light, have you tested these? ABS sheet is easy enough to buy. This is more of a chemistry question than a 3d print question... $\endgroup$ – Sean Houlihane Mar 23 '18 at 8:10
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Have you tried printing with Form labs clear resin ?

( This is assuming you have access to a desktop SLA like the Form2+ or Form 1 )

The printed part itself gets hardened after exposure to uv light and actually can increase the life time of your mould .

I have been using the Form labs Form 2+ a lot recently for small moulds and casting them with Polyurethane . They work amazing and the precision of the mould is high due to 0.05mm layer resolution that is achievable .

Once hardened the UV light easily passes through it and does not degrade the part at all .

Here is the material data sheet https://formlabs.com/media/upload/Clear-DataSheet.pdf

You can easily get a clear resin print done through a local 3D printing service bureau that you can find using 3D hubs .

Prices for printing on a formlabs are comparable to FDM 3D printing , it really just depends on your supplier .

If the above doesn't cut it then ,

Use DSM Somos® WaterClear Ultra 10122 , please check below link and corresponding data sheet for technical specifications .

https://www.dsm.com/products/somos/en_US/products/offerings-somos-water-clear.html

This can only be printed on a 3Ds systems viper , Envision tech preform series or other industrial 3D printers .

Again you can head to 3D hubs or call up the closest industrial 3D printing service bureau and ask them for the above material . They should be able to hook you up easily .

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It is easy enough to test materials. First, get a UV flashlight or laser, and find some object that the UV light will make glow. White paper or white cloth will probably work. Next, for a material you wish to test, print a "transparent" wall as think as you need. Shine the light through the transparent wall. If the wall glows, it is interacting so heavily with the UV light that it probably won't transmit UV light. The light will probably be scattered, since "transparent" material is rarely glasslike when printed. If the test object you found in the first step still glows, the wall is transparent enough. If it doesn't, try the next material.

There are transparent forms of PLA, ABS, PETG, HIPS, and nylon. Probably other materials, too. Try them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Printing almost transparent products is actually quite possible, I was amazed to see the quality of the parts, see e.g. learn.colorfabb.com/lets-make-something-clear. $\endgroup$ – 0scar Jun 22 '18 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ UV crosslinking is VERY wavelength specific. Just because one material appears to allow passage of "some" UV wavelength relatively unimpaired does NOT mean that it will transmit the proper photoinitiating wavelength with adequate fidelity. $\endgroup$ – Davo Jun 22 '18 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed. Perhaps i should have asked the OP about specific wavelengths. $\endgroup$ – cmm Jun 22 '18 at 15:22
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This is more of a Chemistry question, but seeing as we love 3D printing with exotics, here are a few.

Topas olefin copolymer

From the mfr description page,

TOPAS cyclic olefin copolymer, or COC, is an incredibly pure polymer - in fact, it's purer than most grades of medical glass. Unlike glass, it has a non-ionic, inert surface to minimize reactivity, denaturation, agglomeration, delamination and other traditional glass concerns. And when it comes to maintaining purity, TOPAS medical grade plastics can be sterilized via all common methods. Leachables and extractables are extremely low. Reduce risk and increase performance by maintaining the benign, protective environment that TOPAS COC-based devices provide.

Medical grades of TOPAS COC are extremely clear, and are optically suitable for replacing glass in many applications.

I'm not sure of its melting point, or of the speed of solidification (which affects extruder rate, motion etc).

Recommended at this Chem.SE question, PMMA and others

edit

Because answers there have links of their own, I"m not repeating the various technical leads available there.

Now you will have to investigate their melting points and flow rates, etc. to see if these can be coerced to function in an extrusion printer.

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    $\begingroup$ This is awfully close to a link-only answer. What is "Topas olefin"? Can you print with it? What does the linked Chem.SE question say? $\endgroup$ – Tom van der Zanden Jun 21 '18 at 21:59
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    $\begingroup$ @TomvanderZanden printability remains an experiment for someone to investigate, so far as I know. Given that it's possible to print with clay, it would seem to be "just" a matter of temperature, nozzle size, feed rate, cooling enhancements... $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jun 22 '18 at 12:36
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    $\begingroup$ This answer remains low quality in my opinion. It seems hastily written (you haven't taken the time to write out "manufacturer" but for no good reason abbreviated it to "mfr"). The bit of text you copied from the manufacturer page seems rather irrelevant to the question (it lists random benefits of the product, but it doesn't even mention transparency to UV, for example). It seems like you just googled "UV transparent plastic" and copied the top two results into your answer while adding no new information or insights and are basically telling us to figure out the answer on our own. $\endgroup$ – Tom van der Zanden Jun 22 '18 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ @TomvanderZanden anyone who decides to bitch about abbreviations has psychological problems far beyond my capability to rectify. Delete your account. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jun 22 '18 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ Whoa, steady on..! That's not a helpful comment. Please try to keep it cordial and not scare people away. I haven't down voted you, but Tom does have a point. This answer doesn't seem up to your past usually high standards Carl, and seems rushed, to be honest. Take your time and edit it when possible. Thanks :-) $\endgroup$ – Greenonline Jun 22 '18 at 13:23

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