Creating plastic prototypes is an essential step in the product development process. The choice of materials for your plastic prototype can significantly impact its functionality, durability, and overall success.

In this blog, we will talk about the materials for plastic prototyping, and share the material types commonly used in the plastic prototyping process. By understanding the available options, you can make informed decisions that align with your project goals.

Clear Prototype materials

When it comes to creating clear prototypes, two primary materials are commonly used: acrylic (PMMA) and polycarbonate (PC). Acrylic offers excellent optical clarity, transparency, and can be easily machined and polished.

Polycarbonate is known for its high impact resistance, excellent optical properties, and ability to withstand high temperatures. Both materials are widely utilized in clear prototyping applications due to their favorable characteristics. According to the prototype techniques, we will guide you the different Clear materials for different prototype methods.

Clear Prototype materials for CNC machining

Acrylic sheets and polycarbonate sheets are commonly used by CNC machined to create precise and clear prototypes. They are readily available in different thicknesses allowing for versatility in creating prototypes of different dimensions and offering excellent clarity. They both are relatively easy to CNC machines, offering precise cutting, drilling, and milling capabilities. They can be machined into various shapes, sizes, and intricate designs with clean edges.

Machined grade PMMA(Acrylic) sheet

When come to aesthetic Prototype, Machined grade PMMA(Acrylic) sheet is Commonly used for cost saving, it is different from the product material but still has similar properties to production PMMA material and can provide good product aesthetics. Sheets usually are available as below:

ThicknessTransparency Used for automotive lighting lamps
From 1mm to 200mm95%Outer lens
Inner lens
Light guide
Light thick blade

Customed optic grade PMMA (Acrylic) sheet

When come to Photometry prototype of lighting lamps, to verify the original design, production material must be used to achieve the test requirement, then customed acrylic sheet with production material need to be used for CNC machining. sheets commonly available as below, take some materials we used in our prototype project before as example if new PMMA material needs, KUSLA could custom for our customers.

Materialthickness Transparency used for automotive lighting lamps
Clear Evonik PMMA 8NFrom 10mm to 200mm95%Outer lens
Inner lens
Light guide
Light thick blade
Red Evonik PMMA  8N 33691N/AOuter lens
Inner lens
Light Red Evonik PMMA 33721N/AOuter lens
diffusing Evonik PMMA DF23N/AInner lens
diffusing Evonik PMMA DF23N/AInner lens
Evonik PMMA LD12, LD24, LD48, LD96N/AInner lens

Machined grade PC(Polycarbonate) sheet

Another clear material polycarbonate also widely used in a lot of industry because of its good temperature resistance characters. Machined grade PC could be used for aesthetic Prototype, thickness. Sheets usually are available as below:

Thickness Transparency used for automotive lighting lamps
From 1mm to 200mm89%Inner lens
Light guide
Light thick blade

Customed Optic grade PC(Polycarbonate) sheet

Customed optic grade polycarbonate sheets needed for any optic parts are sensitive to materials, to get the best lit aspect and best test result according to the optic design. Sheets in our warehouse are available as below; if new Polycarbonate material needs, KUSLA could custom for our customers.

Materialthickness Transparency used for automotive lighting lamps
 PC2407From 10mm to 200mmN/AInner lens
PC LED224590%light guide, light blade
PC LC150090%light guide, light blade

Clear Prototype material for urethane-casting

Urethane casting is a versatile and cost-effective method for producing small to medium quantities of prototypes that closely mimic the properties of the final production parts. When it comes to clear prototypes, there are several materials commonly used in urethane casting:

Clear Urethane Resins:

Clear urethane resins are specifically formulated to provide optical clarity and transparency. These resins are designed to replicate the appearance and characteristics of transparent or translucent materials such as glass or acrylic. Clear urethane resins offer a high level of detail reproduction and can simulate various levels of transparency depending on the specific formulation used.

Water-Clear Polyurethane:

Water-clear polyurethane is a type of clear urethane resin that offers exceptional optical clarity and light transmission. It is commonly used for applications where transparency is critical, such as lenses, light guides, or display components. Water-clear polyurethane can be tinted or colored to achieve specific visual effects or match certain color requirements.

Clear Casting Epoxy:

Clear casting epoxy is a versatile material used for creating transparent prototypes through urethane casting. It offers good optical clarity, high impact resistance, and excellent dimensional stability. Clear casting epoxy is often chosen for applications that require both transparency and durability, such as enclosures, decorative objects, or functional prototypes.

Clear Prototype materials for 3D printing

With advancements in 3D printing technology, creating clear prototypes has become more accessible and efficient in product development, allowing designers and manufacturers to visualize and test their concepts before moving forward with production. Clear prototype materials are commonly used in additive manufacturing processes such as stereolithography (SLA) 3d Printing or digital light processing (DLP).

Clear Photopolymers:

Clear photopolymers are liquid resins that solidify when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light during the 3D printing process. These resins are specifically formulated to have excellent optical clarity, allowing for the production of transparent or translucent prototypes. Clear photopolymers often exhibit high resolution, enabling the creation of intricate details and smooth surface finishes.

Transparent Filaments:

Some thermoplastic filaments used in 3D printing, such as polycarbonate (PC) or polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG), offer transparent or translucent properties. These materials can be extruded through a heated nozzle in a fused deposition modeling (FDM) process, allowing for the creation of clear prototypes. Transparent filaments are valued for their durability and ease of printing.

Opaque plastic prototype materials

Opaque prototype materials are used to create prototypes that do not allow light to pass through, resulting in a solid, non-transparent appearance. These materials are commonly used in various prototyping methods to simulate the properties and characteristics of the final production parts. According to the prototype techniques, different materials used for different opaque prototype methods.

Opaque plastic prototype materials for CNC machining

Opaque Plastic sheets widely used for CNC machining when making plastic prototypes. Sheets usually are available as below:

Materialthickness used for automotive lighting lamps
ABS sheetsFrom 1mm to 300mmHousing, bezel
Black PC sheetsReflectors
POM Sheetsadjustments
Nylon sheetsbrackets

At KUSLA Prototype, we also could customer designate material grade sheets for our customers when a special purpose needed.

Opaque prototype materials for urethane-casting

Urethane casting materials offer a wide range of options to achieve different mechanical properties, colors, and finishes.


ABS-like urethane materials are designed to mimic the properties of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic. They offer good impact resistance, dimensional stability, and surface finish, making them suitable for functional prototypes and low-volume production parts.

Polypropylene (PP)-like:

Polypropylene-like urethane materials are formulated to replicate the properties of polypropylene plastic. They provide excellent chemical resistance, low density, and good impact strength, making them suitable for applications requiring chemical compatibility and lightweight components.

Polycarbonate (PC)-like:

Polycarbonate-like urethane materials simulate the properties of polycarbonate, such as high impact resistance, optical clarity, and heat resistance. They are used in applications that require transparent or translucent parts with exceptional toughness.

Shore A/B:

Shore A/B urethane materials are available in different durometers, ranging from soft and flexible (Shore A) to rigid and hard (Shore D). These materials allow for the production of parts with varying levels of hardness and flexibility, suitable for a wide range of applications.

Opaque plastic prototype materials for 3D Printing

In 3D printing, there are several opaque plastic materials commonly used for prototyping purposes. These materials offer different mechanical properties, finishes, and levels of detail.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene):

ABS is a widely used thermoplastic material known for its strength, durability, and impact resistance. It is suitable for producing functional prototypes and end-use parts requiring toughness.

PLA (Polylactic Acid):

PLA is a biodegradable and environmentally friendly thermoplastic material. It is easy to print, has good dimensional stability, and offers a smooth surface finish. However, PLA may not be as strong as ABS and is more susceptible to heat.


Nylon is a versatile material known for its excellent mechanical properties, including high strength, toughness, and impact resistance. It is suitable for producing functional prototypes, tooling components, and parts requiring durability.


With this comprehensive guide to prototype materials, you are well-equipped to make informed decisions when selecting materials for your prototypes. By choosing the right material, you can create transparent prototypes that accurately represent your design vision and pave the way for successful product development.

Similar Posts