Clear Filament Comparison

Jamie from 3DPrinterGear.com.au sent me some samples of his Crysta-Line Clear and Ruby Red translucent ABS filament to try out.  So far translucent ABS has been rare, although translucent PLA is common.  Clear has popped up in a couple of places, but 3DPrinterGear is the only supplier who has colors, currently on pre-order.  I was interested in comparing it to the clear from Repraper that I reviewed earlier.

Crysta-Line is on the left, and RepRaper is on the right.  The Crysta-Line filament ranged from around 1.75mm to 1.73mm, so I was pretty comfortable using 1.75 as the filament diameter in my slicer settings.  The RepRaper filament ranges from 1.63 to 1.73, but mostly varies around .05mm.  You can feel some waviness running a couple of fingers along it.  The RepRaper filament has bubbles visible in it, which are completely contained. The Crystal-Line Clear didn’t have any bubbles but some were visible in the Red, though they were much smaller than the bubbles in the RepRaper clear.

I found that the Crysta-Line Clear is a bit brittle.  While untangling the coil and trying to determine how much I had left, it kept breaking into shorter lengths.  This wouldn’t be a problem with a spool, but a coil would need to be handled very carefully.  The Ruby Red didn’t seem to have this problem.

UPDATE: Jamie said that whenever he tried to break the filament, it took a lot of bends to fatigue it enough to do so.  I went back and tried to break a piece and found the same thing.  Then I tried what I had done before, which was measure it by stretching it out and counting arm spans.  After I stretched it, it would snap cleanly on a moderate bend.  I would then try to snap it at another nearby point, and it wouldn’t snap until I stretched it again.  It seems that moderately stretching the filament will weaken it for a few seconds, so if you need to measure out a portion, go slowly.

I printed some single walled cubes with a thread width that came out to about .38mm.

Here is Crysta-Line at .3mm layers-

The RepRaper Clear at .3mm layers-

I’m not seeing a clear difference between them, and the bubbles I saw in the first RepRaper print I did aren’t evident here.  These tests were extruded at 210 rather than the 195 I used for the first review, and that might have made a difference.  I went with a high temperature because I wanted to see if it affected the clarity (it didn’t appear to).

Here are both clear filaments at .1mm layers, Crysta-Line on the left-

Crysta-Line .1mm-

Crysta-Line Ruby Red in .1mm

Red in a .3mm cup.  If you look closely, there are bubbles visible in the print, though they did not appear in the .1mm print.  Maybe if the bubbles are larger than the layer height, they won’t show in the print.  The walls of the cup are thicker due to the filament being bents into a curve.  They are around .6mm thick.

All three filaments as cups, Crysta-Line left, RepRaper Center, Crysta-Line Red Right-

All three cups at .1mm layers.  Again, no bubbles visible at this resolution.
Crysta-Line Clear at .1mm

Crysta-Line Clear at .3mm

My daughter had asked me for a dining room table to go with her miniature LaLaLoopsy dolls, so I thought the red would look really nice for that, especially since it leans a bit toward pink-

The main reason I am so interested in translucent color in ABS, when they are so available in PLA, is that ABS can be solvent smoothed.  Here is the table after a couple of dips in the vapor bath-

Here are some before and after pairs of some of the test pieces after a couple of dips in the vapor bath
It would be interesting to see what the results would be like with a little pre-sanding, ideally from both sides.  If you needed some clear windows, I think you might get good results from printing 2-3 layers flat on the build platform at .3mm thick and wide threads, then sanding and vapor smoothing them.

Switching translucent color filaments between layers of a print can create some interesting effects too.  Check out the experiments one Thingiverse user did with PLA, to get an idea of the possibilities- http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:25612

I’m working on a clear acrylic enclosure for my Solidoodle, and I think re-printing accessories like the fan duct and thumbscrews in clear or a translucent accent color would look pretty cool.

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2 thoughts on “Clear Filament Comparison

    • They would look about the same. Smoothing will make them clearer if the walls are single threaded. Otherwise the view through the object is blocked by additional perimeters and infill. You could play with the aesthetics by printing with one perimeter and changing the type and density of the fill.

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