Understanding ABS 3D Printing Filament

We can’t create a print without filament, and knowing what filaments are available and understanding their properties, can help us take greater advantage of our 3D printers, so let’s get start learning with a closer look at ABS.

ABS Filament Composition

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) filament is a thermoplastic formed by polymerizing acrylonitrile and styrene in the presence of polybutadiene, and is derived from natural gas and petroleum.

ABS Material


Printed ABS Qualities

ABS is known for its toughness as well as impact and heat resistance. Prints created with ABS can bear weight well, and feature glossy finishes and electrical insulation properties.

ABS 3D printed robot
ABS 3D printed robot via – inmoov.fr


Extruding and Warping

ABS does not have a true melting point but does become amorphous and extrudable when it reaches it glass transition state, which can occur at a temperature as low as 221° F.

When ABS is being extruded it does give off a strong plastic odor that can unpleasant, so printing in a well-ventilated space is recommended.

ABS is prone to warping, but a heated build platform heated to a temperature between 176 and 212° F can go a long way toward alleviating this problem by preventing the filament from cooling too quickly.

ABS Chemical Solubility

ABS is soluble in acetone as well as esters, ketones, ethylene, and dichloride, so if you’re looking for candidates to fill a support role in your 3D printing masterpiece, this filament may be just what you’re looking for.

Acetone can also be used with ABS to add a glossier look or bond two pieces together, post production.

ABS acetone vapor bath results
via – sinkhacks.com

Dissolve a bit of ABS into acetone and lightly coat your print surface before you begin printing to encourage the first layer of your print to adhere to the build platform.

Commonly Made with ABS

ABS is one of the most commonly used filaments in 3D printing, and many 3D printers are specifically designed to be compatible with it.

It is used to materialize a plethora of designs from replacement mechanical parts designed with function in mind to decorative elements designed with the goal of aesthetic appeal.

ABS and Water

ABS does absorb moisture from its environment, which can affect the integrity of a printed structure in the long run.

What is more critical in the short term is to keep ABS stored in a sealed container where it cannot absorb moisture, or where the amount of moisture it will absorb is limited.

ABS filament that has absorbed moisture will require higher heat to reach molten form, and require increased torque to be passed through the extruder.

ABS and Sunlight

Pieces printed with ABS are vulnerable to degradation due to sun exposure, so store your designs away from direct sunlight in order to preserve them.

Precautions for Printing with ABS

When working with ABS it is best to take precaution. If you’re printing on an open platform printer, print in an area with adequate ventilation, and if you chose to use flammable chemicals such as acetone, exercise extreme caution.

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