Everything You Need to Know About ABS Filament as 3D Printing Material

If you think that 3D printing is a new technology of the modern world, let us tell you that Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), one of the third major 3D printing technology today, has existed since the early 1990s.

With the growth and rise of 3D printing technology, the innovation of different 3D printer materials also surged.  3D printing ABS Filament was one of the first filaments in the world of 3D printing, as it was already used in the traditional manufacturing processes and quite familiar to the industry people.

Today ABS is one of the most common 3D printer filaments being widely used for professional applications. ABS, as a 3D printer filament, has some great characteristics, making it perfect for such wide and scalable use.

In this blog post, we will discuss everything about 3D printing ABS filament, starting from its definition to chemical properties, pros, cons, hardware requirements, applications, alternatives, and best practices while using 3D printer Material

What Is 3D Printing ABS Filament?

In simple words, Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a thermoplastic filament with a base of monomers Acrylonitrile, 1,3-Butadiene, and Styrene with petroleum.

3D printing ABS filament is widely known for its strength, flexibility, and durability and is used in prints that require the qualities mentioned above, like home appliances, medical devices, sports equipment, and bricks.

Specification Imperial Metric
  • Heat Deflection (ASTM 648, 66 psi)
210°F 99°C
  • Flexural Modulus (ASTM D790, 15 mm/min)
377,000 psi 2,600 MPa
  • Tensile Strength at yield (ASTM D638, 50 mm/min)
0.806 psi 43 MPa
  • Tensile Modulus (ASTM D638, 50 mm/min)
>348,000 psi >2,400 MPa
  • Strain at Yield - Elongation (%)
>5.6% >5.6%
  • Notched Impact Strength (ASTM D256)

>3.6 ft-lb/in

>192 J/m

ABS 3D Printer Filament’s Material & Chemical Properties:

Here are the specifications for the 3D Printing ABS Filament

  • Durability
  • Material Costs
  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Heat Resistance
  • Chemical Resistance
  • Flame Retardant
  • Water Resistance
  • Nozzle Temperature
230 - 260 ‎°C
  • Heated Bed
80 - 110 ‎°C
  • Benefits of ABS 3D Printer Filament

Though there are many benefits of 3D printing with ABS filament, here are some of the prominent advantages of 3D printer material.

  • Industry-perfect Properties & Easy-to-Use

3D printing ABS filament is packed with all the properties that make it perfect for industry use. The 3D printer material is popular for its strength, durability, heat/chemical/stress resistance, ductility, and stiffness compared to many other 3D printer filaments.

Moreover, ABS 3D printer filament is quite easy to process with acetone and glue parts, and you can also paint them with acrylic colors.

  • Post-processing:

With ABS parts, you can do multiple post-processing techniques, including sanding, painting (with acrylic paints), gluing, milling, drilling, and cutting. Plus, you can also smoothen it with acetone to achieve a glossy surface finish. Additionally, ABS 3D printer filament lets you print overhangs around 45ᵒ while stringing and oozing lesser than other 3D printer materials.

  • Accuracy & Scope for New Materials:

If you have the right printer settings, you can create dimensionally accurate and detailed parts with ABS 3D printer filament, except for extremely complex designs.

Not only that, but you can also create various materials with ABS to get a new set of enhanced properties like biocompatibility, conductivity, translucency, and greater mechanical properties.

  • Reasonable Pricing:

Last but not least is the affordability of the 3D printer material. Due to its cost-effectiveness, ABS is favored by many industries.

  • Cons of ABS 3D Printer Filament:

It’s not all glory when it comes to 3D printing ABS filament; there are some downsides, too, such as

  • Temperature Issues:

When dealing with 3D printing ABS filament, you need to maintain the proper temperature with the right settings because if it cools too quickly, it will crack or have split layers. Having a slow cooling process prevents part cracking while ensuring better layer adhesion. The problem with managing the right temperature is that it can be time-consuming and involves trial and error before you get it perfect.

  • Sunlight & UV-Rays:

Another downside of 3D printing ABS filament is that it can not withstand direct sunlight, and prolonged exposure to sunlight and UV rays will affect the print’s quality. So, if your print needs to be used for outdoor usage, it’s better to choose another filament having UV resistance.

  • Foul Smell:

The 3D printer material releases toxic fumes like VOCs (Volatile Organic Carbon), leading to a foul odor when printing.

Having ventilated working space may make things easier for you. Plus, you can equip your printer with either an enclosure or filter and a fan for extraction.

  • Curling & Wrapping:

If there is a huge temperature difference while cooling down, your print can have wraps and curling, leading to tension within the model and lifting of the lower layers. Moreover, the shrinking of the model creates dimensional inaccuracy in the model.

  • Hardware Requirements of ABS 3D Printer Filament

  • Heated bed temperature: 95ᵒ-110ᵒC, Enclosure Recommended
  • Extruder temperature: 220ᵒ-250ᵒC
  • Environment: The closed chamber is required
  • Part cooling fan: Not required
  • Special hot-end: Not required
  • Build Surface: Kapton tape, ABS Slurry
  • Cooling: Part Cooling Fan Not Required
  • Common Applications of 3D Printing ABS Filaments

With its properties like chemical resistance, heat resistance, high structural strength, stiffness, and amazing temperature performance, ABS is one of the most suitable 3D printer materials for functional prototyping, concept modeling, tooling production, and end-use parts.

Some examples of ABS 3D printer filament applications include automotive components, kitchen and housing appliances, the casing of electrical components, automobile dashboards and bumpers, protective equipment, Lego or Kre-O bricks and other toys, and musical instruments. In short, ABS 3D printer filament is a great choice for low-cost prototypes.

  • Best Practices and Pro Tips to Keep in Mind While Printing with ABS Filament:

Printing with ABS 3D printer filament can be difficult sometimes, and thus we’ve got a few tips to keep in mind for a smooth experience.

  • Control Wrapping

Wrapping is one of the common problems while printing with ABS due to temperature changes to the material, especially for the first layer, and the size change of the model leads them to separate from the bed.

To prevent wrapping, use a proper build surface heated to 110º C. Moreover, you can also set the extruder temperature to about 10 to 20 degrees higher to reduce the risk of separation.

Consider adding an enclosure around your print to maintain a high temperature while printing taller and large prototypes.

  • Using Brims & Rafts:

When dealing with large, thin, and delicate parts, it is best to add a brim or raft to anchor them to the build platform and prevent warping. A brim will help you add multiple rings of plastic around your model to create an extra surface to hold down the edges of your part. Whereas raft will print a new plastic structure underneath your print that you can remove later.

  • Using a Well-Ventilated Area:

ABS 3D printer filament releases a strong odor with fumes that may harm your health, and thus it is recommended that when you are printing with the ABS 3D printer filament, you should go with an open and properly ventilated space.

  • Alternatives to ABS 3D printer filament:

Considering the toxicity and harmful effects of 3D printing ABS filaments, many people look for alternatives to ABS.

PLA (Polylactic Acid) ranks at the top in ABS alternatives, as it is cornstarch-derived plastic and melts at a lower temperature. Other than PLA, you can also choose PC-ABS or ULTEM with their great heat resistance and impact resistance qualities. You can get even further options if you decide to print with Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology.

  • Conclusion:

ABS 3D printer filament has been used by industry people for a long time now, and it is quite popular for its great characteristics and qualities. Not only that, but its easy accessibility in the market and cost-effectiveness make it an even further favored choice among buyers.

Consider all the advantages and disadvantages, material & chemical properties, hardware requirements, applications, alternatives, and pro tips before deciding the best option for your business requirements. If you have any questions or queries about 3D printer materials, feel free to contact us at sales@argylematerials.com or call us at 855.527.4953 to take the conversation further.