It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago there were only a handful of 3D printing material and color options, and in such a short amount of time the market now boasts hundreds of 3D printing filament and material options. While PLA and to a lesser degree ABS still rule the roost, one of the materials growing extremely rapidly in popularity are the various PET materials.
PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, is a polymer that is derived from polyester and is one of the more prolific thermoplastic materials in use today. It is used for products as diverse as thermal insulation, magnetic tape, pressure sensitive adhesives, and fabrics like polar fleece. And because PET is highly resistant to water and moisture, it is an extremely popular food-safe packaging material, and is what most water and soda bottles are made of.
As a 3D printing material it is very easy to use, holds its shape well, and can be used to hold liquids and food without any toxicity issues. It also doesn’t require a heated bed for first layer adhesion, making it compatible for use with most 3D printers on the market today. That makes it an ideal option for prints that require a transparent material; however, even the transparent PET options available weren’t especially transparent. But 3D printing materials manufacturer Formfutura has developed a new modified PETG formula that they describe as ultra-transparent.
The Dutch materials manufacturer is known for producing some of the highest quality and innovative 3D printing materials available on the market, and that tradition continues with their newest material, HDglass. The HD stands for “heavy duty” because once printed, HDglass is an extremely tough yet flexible plastic that is virtually unmatched in currently available products.
Formfutura says that their HDglass filament has all of the strength, durability, and heat resistance of other PET materials but allows 90% of visible light to pass through it with only 1% of haze or distortion. That makes HDglass by far the most transparent 3D printing filament capable of producing glass-like objects on the market. It is so transparent it takes color extremely well, and can be made in several color tints without sacrificing any of its transparency.
Like most PET materials HDglass has excellent layer adhesion and thermal stability, and will not produce any odors during the printing process. It also contains no hazardous materials and is Bisphenol A-free, RoHS certified, REACH compliant, and the FDA has even rated it food- and drink-safe. PET is also completely recyclable, so any unwanted or failed prints don’t need to just be thrown away.
Each .75 KG spool of HDglass filament will cost €32.95 for the standard transparent material and €34.95 for the tinted options. Formfutura is releasing a clear filament and four colors, in both 1.75mm and 2.85mm varieties. The first colors available will be black, blue, red, and green.
While the material shares many characteristics with similar materials like t-glase and XT, HDglass is considerably more printer friendly, and has a much clearer, undistorted transparency. Formfutura has also said that they will be introducing several more HDglass variants shortly, including more high-gloss opaque colours and a version of the material that will be reinforced with carbon-fibres to make it more rigid.
Have you ever used any transparent materials? How do you think they will compare with the new HDglass material? Tell us what you think over on the Formfutura HDglass forum thread on 3DPB.com.