How to make a transparent prototypes by CNC machining?

The answer is using transparent materials to create the mock-up,  Transparent prototype is very popular in prototyping industry. For example, the display lens of a mobile phone, a transparent case for storing clothes, a packaging box, a billboard and so on. But what materials are they made up of?

The manufacturing of transparent prototypes mainly uses two kinds of materials, one type is PC material, the other type is PMMA acrylic material.

Generally speaking,

PC is much harder and the application is very common. Designers use PC to reduce the weight of the aircraft. Application PC in automobile manufacturing can also reduce the weight and make the fuel consumption less.

Acrylic transparent materials mainly work on light boxes, signboards, billboards, lampshades, windows and cabinets. Some high-end furniture is also made by Acrylic. Although Acrylic is not that hard as PC, acrylic is hard enough for boxes unless you are developing parts for aircraft.

transparent PC material

transparent PC material

transparent PC material

transparent PC material base

acrylic board material

acrylic glass prototypes

The following is a brief description of the characteristics of the two transparent materials of PC and acrylic.


  • Due to the hard quality of the PC, it takes more time to polish in the later stage, and the dead end of the PC parts are unable to be polished.
  •  Acrylic data is much easier to polish.
  • The hand model of the PC material is not completely transparent. There is a kind of quiet lavender on the top. This lavender can be made transparent with chemical syrup, which has chemical changes.
  • While acrylic data can reach 90% transmittance, which is an ideal transparent material.


So if you are developing a transparent product which has high requirement on surface finishing, acrylic is a good choice.

If you have strict requirement in hardness(anti-fall), light weighted, then PC is a good choice.

Posted in Prototyping.

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