Clarity can be defined in many ways, with four standing out in material and application development.
Transparent materials allow light to pass through so objects can easily be seen behind the material.
Water Clear materials are perfectly transparent and nearly or completely colorless.
Contact Clarity is defined by a material's ability to allow an image to be viewed when overlayed by another material.
Translucent materials allow light, but not detailed shapes, to pass through.
Measuring clarity can be a subjective exercise. Many factors can influence an individual's observation, including thickness and available light.
There are many reasons to use clear TPE or thermoplastic elastomers when designing an application. TPE formulations are offered in filled and unfilled variations. In general terms, the filler is added to TPE to address hardness, stiffness, or a multitude of other properties. This filler gives the material an opaque appearance in its natural state. Achieving vibrant colors that “pop” or incorporating effects such as metallic flake can be a challenge with filled TPE.
In the past, transparency, water clear, contact clarity, and translucence were only available in unfilled materials which limited the property spectrum at a cost disadvantage. The ability to incorporate filler can help reduce material cost.
Audia Elastomers has developed a line of filled TPE materials that can be custom formulated to meet application clarity requirements with a cost advantage over traditional unfilled TPE options.