USA & Canada
USA & Canada

Can you 3D print glass-like materials?

gina s
Gina Scala October 26, 2020
October 26, 2020

From the medical industry to consumer products, glass is a versatile material with both practical and aesthetic properties. Qualities like true transparency and heat resistance make it a popular choice for lighting casings, kitchenware, and optical devices.

However, glass can pose challenges for the prototyping process. Unlike paper, plastic, and wood, glass requires expert knowledge and specialized equipment to manipulate it into the correct shape. Even industrial applications like glass panels require a manufacturer to temper, cut, and polish a sheet of flat glass. Complex consumer products can be even more difficult and expensive to prototype.

Design studios don’t have the time or money to spend on outsourcing every single prototype to a manufacturer, but they need functional models for user testing and stakeholder approvals. Plastic offers a cheaper, more accessible option.

Transparent block 3D printed with VeroUltraClearS material.
One popular example is PMMA, which is used not just for prototyping, but for final parts due to its high impact strength and excellent transparency. However, designers may run into the same prototyping problems with PMMA: although it’s cheaper than glass, it takes time and specialized manufacturing equipment to mold and shape. It’s not time or cost-efficient to spend days creating an early-stage acrylic prototype, so many designers rely on opaque models to communicate initial design intent.
PolyJet Technology offers an alternative solution: the speed and simplicity of 3D printing combined with transparent materials. When you can just send a design to your in-house 3D printer, there’s no need for modeling services to do the job. Newly available on the J55, an affordable office-friendly PolyJet 3D printing system, VeroUltraClearS™ is a photopolymer that mimics PMMA better than any other 3D printing material. With 90% light transmission and a low yellow index, it’s ideal for modeling products that require translucent components, or for visualizing internal details.
Yellow index comparison of several translucent 3D printing materials.
And the multimaterial capabilities of the J55 mean you can create parts with transparent and opaque components, removing extra steps from your prototyping process. Get accurate, high-fidelity models for applications including lighting components, consumer goods, eyewear, and medical devices. Why wait weeks for an acrylic prototype when you could get detailed, translucent parts from the J55 in just hours? With limited post-processing necessary, models can go from the build tray to stakeholder’s hands in no time. See what’s possible today and request a sample.