ABS Material For 3D Printing – Properties Guide

ABS material is one of the first plastics to be used with industrial 3D printers. In this guide, we will cover ABS material properties and what applications it can be used for.

ABS Overviews

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is known for its toughness and impact-resistant material properties. ABS parts are temperature resistant before it deforms, and they are commonly used in a variety of everyday items we use such as LEGO parts, toys, tools, cases, keyboard…etc.

ABS is great for 3D printing, but it requires a bit more design tweaks, temperature control, and strategic adjustments to make the part print correctly.

ABS Material Properties

  • Density – 1.04 g/cm3
  • Coefficient of Thermal Expansion – 90µm/m-°C
  • Extruder Temperature – 220 – 250°C
  • Price (per kg) – $10 – $40

Areas Of Strength

  • Low cost
  • Easy for prototyping
  • Resistance to wear, temperature and impact before deformation
  • Excellent tensile and compressive strength than PLA

Areas Of Weakness

  • Heavy warping
  • Strong odor while printing (Need good ventilation)
  • ABS contracts as it cools down leading to dimensional change

Common Applications For ABS

  • LEGO parts
  • Toys or Action Figures
  • Automotive hardware
  • Electronic housings
  • Various household utility
  • Pipes and fittings
  • Vaccum parts
  • Power-Tool Housing
  • Gaming peripherals

Which 3D Printers Can Print ABS

Please make sure your 3D printer has the following capability:

  • Extruder temperature – 220-250 °C
  • Print speed around 25 – 50 mm/s
  • Heated bed – 95-110 °C
  • Build surface – Kapton tape, ABS Slurry
  • Enclosure highly recommended
  • Cooling fan is not necessary

Best Practices Using ABS Material In 3D Printing

Pay Attention To Warping

  • Heat the build bed to 110º C for the best chance to successfully build the first layer to minimize shrink or contract
  • Use a 3D printer with accurate extruder and bed temperature control
  • Use enclosure to maintain a higher temperature around the part while printing
  • Use enclosure to prevent wind drafts and unwanted cooling
  • Set the extruder temperature about 10 to 20 degrees higher for the first few layers of the print to reduce the risk of separation.

Use Brims and Rafts

  • Use a brim to create extra surface area to hold down the edges of the part being printed
  • Use a draft under the print to account for the warping
  • Use PLA material as a easy break-away support material

Must Have Ventilation

  • ABS produce strong odor and can be harmful if inhaled in large quantities
  • Avoid printing in rooms without good ventilation
  • Use a separate air filtration

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