How To Make Clear Parts?

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Posted on: Jan. 21th, 2020, | By Project Manager Mandy

Clear parts are widely used in today’s society, such as the automobile industry, aerospace, as well as our daily life of bottles and cans. How do you get clear parts? Here listed 3 schemes of manufacturing solutions, you can refer to specific cases, analyze the advantages and disadvantages, and then choose the suitable manufacturing option.

Make Clear Parts with 3D Printing

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3D printing is not able to directly print clear parts due to the limitation of its own materials. The clear parts printed out by 3D printing are translucent, that is, they look a little foggy. If we want to get fully transparent parts we need to sandpaper smooth and polish them. Sanding is the polishing of sandpaper, from coarse to fine, followed by polishing wax. The process is similar to acrylic.

Explore more optical prototyping here.

The biggest advantage is that it can be made as a whole, without dismantling parts. The 3D printing method to obtain transparent parts is still defective. The first point is the structure, because some of the structure is complex inside, some of the subtle structure we cannot be manually polished to the entire surface of the workpiece, so this model to achieve a completely transparent effect is more difficult. At this point, CNC acrylic bonding method may be slightly dominant. The second point is that the SLA material is liquid, so part of the air may enter during the printing process. As a result, we will see some small bubbles in the transparent parts, which cannot be removed inside the parts. If your transparent piece is so aesthetically demanding that it won’t work next time, you need to rethink the process.

Below is an example of SLA transparency and if you have any ideas you can leave a comment.

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Technology: 3D Printing Stereolithography (SLA)

Material: Liquid photosensitive polymer

Post-treatment: Sandpaper + Polishing

Defects: It can be seen that the inner diameter of the whole pipe is very small, some local positions cannot be polished by manual polishing, and the effect of complete transparency is not achieved. There are tiny bubbles as the picture highlight in red.

Advantage: Based on these two defects are clear and accepted by the customer. Because this part is used for gas valve piping function test, not for display. The transparency effect is as long as you can see the transport effect of the internal airflow. According to the analysis, 3D printing meets the customer’s requirements. The customer saves the cost and completes the product test in a short time.

Material Options for CNC Machining Clear Parts

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The materials commonly used in CNC processing clear parts are acrylic and PC. Acrylic polishing and PC vapor polishing. Although acrylic and PC materials are transparent, there is a difference in the application.

Acrylic itself transparency is higher than PC, with better penetration, and polishing is relatively simple than PC. Acrylic transparency is very popular among the exhibition prototypes. However, the disadvantage of PMMA is its brittleness, which is not as high as THAT of PC. J processing process can only be achieved by CNC machining. If the product has an inverted or functional structure, and the interior is hollow, this kind of disassembly processing, will leave a sticky wire.PC has high hardness and high-temperature resistance, which will increase the difficulty of polishing. Moreover, if we carefully observe PC materials from multiple angles, we will find that it reflects a slight violet light and cracks may appear during fumigation.

The following is an example of CNC transparency and if you have any ideas please feel free to leave a comment.

Technology: CNC Machining

Material: Clear PMMA

Post-treatment: Sandpaper + Polishing

Defect: for parts of a complex structure, it will need CNC split machining then glue solution. The transparent parts will show gluing line marks. But it actually looks more like an art line than a flaw, because WayKen’s team has a lot of experience to work out this issue.

Advantages: CNC split machining then glue solution can save processing costs and time, but also easy to polish.

Manufacture Clear Parts by Vacuum Casting

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Casting parts can be varied from many types of resin materials. There are two types of materials used to make transparent prototypes by Vacuum Casting technology.  Axson PX 5210 from France, the material performance is similar to engineering production plastics clear PMMA. Axson PX 527 from France, which material performance is similar to engineering production plastics clear PC.

Vacuum Casting is more suitable for small batch production, a silicone mold can be casting 10-12 pieces, specific structure specific analysis. Vacuum Casting can cast a variety of post-processing parts like color requires, texture require, matt finish, and so on. This can save a lot of labor costs, such as manual sandpaper and polishing like CNC solutions.

The following is an example of a clear part, and if you have any ideas, please feel free to leave a comment.

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Technology: Vacuum Casting

Material: Axson PX 5210(resin materials similar to clear PMMA)

Defects: Silicone mold has a certain life, when your number of more than 500 pieces, the Vacuum Casting does not have a cost advantage. It might be a good way to do injection molding.

Advantages: It can be processed as a whole part, save a lot of labor post-processing costs, and shorten the delivery time of the whole project.

Concluding Remarks

Clear parts are usually made using the above 3 manufacturing solutions, here only shown you 3 cases for your reference. If you’re planing with your clear parts and got in stuck don’t know how to proceed. Please feel free to contact WayKen and we will be happy to discuss it with you.

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