Clear ABS Filament

There have been clear and translucent colors available in PLA for a long time, but no one has offered clear ABS.  It’s readily available in sheets, and I wondered why not filament?  There is a manufacturer offering it now, somewhere in China.  It is currently available from (the unfortunately named) repraper.com in China, www.buy3dink.com/ in the US, and coming soon to http://www.3dprintergear.com.au/.  The spool pictured at 3Dprintergear isn’t the same as the other colors, so I don’t know if they are getting it from the same supplier.  The same spool style at buy3dink and repraper is also visible at Octave and 3D Printer Supplies at Amazon.

I ordered some clear ABS from Repraper, which cost about $40 including shipping to the US.  It took maybe a week to arrive.  When I first opened it and looked at the spool, I became a bit concerned.

There are bubbles clearly visible in the filament, and black specs here and there.  They look bigger than they are, because the clear plastic magnifies them.  This was a fleck of something embedded in the surface about .5mm around.  I did a test print of a cup with a wall 1 perimeter thick and .1mm layers.

If you look really close you can see bubbles in the thread, but they don’t stand out too much.  They seem to stay contained within the extruded filament rather than bursting and causing a rough extrusion.  I figured that a single wall at .1mm layers would give them plenty of opportunity to ruin the print, but they didn’t.   The moire pattern you can see on the surface is caused by the extruder motor.  Since it rotates in discrete steps rather than continuous motion, there is a slight pulsing to the extrusion, creating that pattern in the clear filament.

The filament varies between 1.55mm and 1.60mm which is a good tolerance, if a little thin.  It definitely requires its own Filament profile in Slic3r. I’ve only done a small test, because I’m concerned about the black flecks further down the filament, and worried that one of those could jam my nozzle.  I have a roll of white ABS from Octave, who appear to use the same manufacturer judging from the spool.  I haven’t seen any sign of bubbles or contamination in that filament, so the trouble might be confined to transparent, or that batch.

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9 thoughts on “Clear ABS Filament

  1. Thanks for all the great info on the Solidoodle! I just have one question, as I’m waiting for my printer, I’m trying to find info on printing in PLA. You mentioned in one of your first posts you’d go over it more. Any more info on this subject?

    • I could post more later, but it isn’t really any more than temp at 180C, bed at 50C and blow a fan over the build area to help the PLA cool quickly. Putting a fan duct on the nozzle like this one – http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:30828 would be a good idea as well. If you are using Slic3r, the extrusion multiplier might need a little adjustment due to PLA being harder than ABS. The gear doesn’t cut into it as much, so a single walled test print might be the best thing to do first with PLA.

  2. Ian Hello Great write up! I am an engineer and 3d Cad pro so designing in 3d and process controls, heat temp are all fine with me. This Solidoodle looks like a great tool to start with in 3d printing especially considering the cost vs the Bokubot or Ultimaker or Makerbot (looking at US companies).

    My questions: I am looking to make small brackets and enclosures for a home project. Spacers, Brackets, Boxes to hole or mount small switches, controls to plastic items. I would use fasteners or nest parts so I can mold into bigger parts.

    How is the Solidoodle for this task? Nothing huge precision but enough for say 1/16″-1/8″ ranges so I can line holes up etc. What about structural integrity of this machine VS say other higher cost brands? IS that relevant or just how you print the plastic (infill etc) Not for load bearing but enough that I can mount them in place and they will hold up under normal wear and tear like your caliper mounting.

    Acetone is good for welding? Does it hold?
    Have you tried threaded brass inserts for threaded connections in the plastic?
    Is PLA easier to work with and doable on the Solidoodle?

    Is the unit upgradable with aftermarket controls/heads/slides to make it faster,longer?
    What is typical spring speeds 100mm/s possible?
    how long would say an iphone case typically print in?
    I have a new macbook pro i7, does PC speed effect the print speed (you mentioned something about the head was faster then the gcode?)
    Is the $499 base model better or the the $699 one better upgrade?
    What was your lead time?

    Thanks in advance for my 20 questions 🙂
    Jim

  3. Hey Ian,

    Thanks for posting everything you have so far, please keep it up. Im just wondering, this filament says it melts at 210 – 250 degrees C, but on solidoodles website they say to not set the extruder to more than 200, whats the go? Do we just set it to 200? or go above solidoodles recommendations?

    Cheers,
    Matt

    • Go with Solidoodle’s recommendations. The temperature settings depend on how the hot end is designed and where the thermistor is located. In many printers, the thermistor is inside the heater which in most cases surrounds most of the nozzle. The thermistor on the Solidoodle is located at the bottom of the nozzle, and the heater is on top of the nozzle. As a result, a 195 temperature reading might mean the heater is as hot as 230.

  4. Hi Ian, Jamie from 3dpritergear here. Just thought I would clarify (pun not intended!) that our clear ABS, and soon tinted, doesn’t come from our normal suppliers. (actually it doesn’t come from China either) and is made especially for us. Send me your address and I’ll post you a sample. I’d be keen to see a comparison with the other makers clear.
    Cheers
    Jamie

  5. Hi Ian,

    Did you end up ever getting rid of (or at least minimising) the moire pattern you got on your cup? I figure from your description above, it wouldnt be an easy task, but figure’d that I’d ask anyway!

    pretenda

    • Not yet. I got it minimized a little bit with an adjustment to the stepper driver. I don’t remember the exact fix or issue, but if you Google Stepper Driver, Microstepping, and solder bridge you might come up with something. I think the main cause of the moire is resolution of the extruder. The steps/mm are low enough that there is a slight pulsing to the extrusion due to the discrete steps. It’s the most visible on the first layer, exaggerated by the squish. I want to replace the stepper with a stepper/gearbox combo like the original Solidoodle had, and most direct drive extruders. To make room, I would move the extruder fan to the top of the motor. It would require a new extruder because the screw pattern on the gearbox is different from the motor. I still have a acrylic extruder set from the Solidoodle 1 that I can use as a starting point. If you look at the original Meet Solidoodle 2 video, you can see that the prototype had a gearbox, but they dropped it to reduce cost.

  6. Hi Ian,

    Thanks a lot for all theses precious information. I just acquired a solidoodle 3 and i am looking for a good 1.75 ABS filament. Which one do you use ? Could you advice me for the best ? I am looking for all colors.

    Thanks again !

    Raphaëlle

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