ABS: 3D Printing Materials Overview

ABS is (apart from PLA) one of the most popular 3D printing materials. It’s usually used whenever you need to 3D print some tough and durable models. Here’s our ultimate guide to ABS material with tips on printing with ZMorph VX.

ABS 3D printing
Various samples 3D printed from ABS.

What is ABS?

ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, and it’s a sturdy, plastic material with great impact strength and mechanical properties. ABS is a terpolymer, which means that it’s made polymerizing styrene and acrylonitrile in the presence of polybutadiene. It has no true melting point because it’s amorphous.

ABS is dissolvable in acetone. This feature comes in handy while post-processing. You can read about it more in our guide to post-processing prints. Red further to learn about different ABS applications.

ABS 3D printing
3D printed gear.

How to 3D Print with ABS?

In this section, you will learn how to 3D print with ABS using ZMorph VX and Voxelizer. Creating models with ABS plastic is not difficult, although there are some points to consider, so be sure to stay focused, especially if it’s your first time. 3D printing with ABS on ZMorph VX is possible thanks to the heated bed and the ability to close the chamber.

ABS 3D printing
3D printing with ABS.

Voxelizer Settings

3D printing with ABS ZMorph 1.75 filament is really easy with Voxelizer because we’ve taken care of the settings for you. Simply choose from one of the presets available in printing settings and you’re good to go. Other variables (like durability or infill) will differ depending on the outcome you want to achieve.

ABS 3D printing
ABS preset in Voxelizer (click the photo to enlarge)

If you don’t see the ABS preset in your Voxelizer, click the “Open filament library wizard” icon and missing presets (works only if you’re connected to the Internet).

At the end of the process of creating a G-code, the software will remind you of using closed covers and adhesive agent. Which brings us to the next part…

ABS 3D printing
Voxelizer reminder (click to enlarge)

Adhesion

To get that perfect first layer, we recommend using Voxelizer presets and adhesion glue (i.e. Dimafix). If your print doesn’t stick well to the bed, make sure the table is clean, the nozzle isn’t too high, and you’ve used enough adhesive agent. 

ABS Printing & Bed Temperature

As we mentioned before, ABS material doesn’t really have a melting point, but that doesn’t mean you can heat up the extruder to the maximum available temperature. Based on our internal testing, while 3D printing using ZMorph VX you should maintain 230-250 °C in the extruder and around 80-100 °C bed temperature.

Other Printer Settings

Contrary to PLA settings, while printing with ABS filaments you should close the printer covers. ABS plastic behaves best in closed chambers, because it prevents shrinking and warping. 

ABS 3D printing
3D printing from ABS gives best results in closed chambers.

The fan add-on is not necessary if your model is simple. When the model has a lot of overhangs and other difficult parts you can use the fan, but it shouldn’t run on such a high speed as with PLA.

ABS Applications

ABS is mainly used whenever a stiff and durable plastic is needed. ABS filament is used for making prototypes, consumer goods, jigs & fixtures, casings, gearing, car interiors, or models requiring high-impact strength. 

Samples

ABS 3D printing
3D printed gear made from ABS.
ABS 3D printing
3D printed cover made from ABS
ABS 3D printing
Electronics casing and landing gear for this drone were 3D printed from ABS.
ABS 3D printing
ABS bolt with HIPS support.

ABS & Dual Extruder

If you have a complex model to 3D print, it’s a good idea to use Dual Extruder and a soluble support. Similar to the PLA & PVA duo, you can mix ABS and HIPS filaments. HIPS is easily dissolvable in D-Limonene. Printing temperatures for both materials are similar, and therefore the filaments supplement each other. 

ABS 3D printing
3D printed bolt with HIPS support.

Safety warning: D-Limonene is a toxic substance and therefore you should always take safety measures while working with this solvent. Pay attention to the description on the package, and use protective gloves and mask.

Remember to set proper artefact parameters. It’s vital to take extra measures to prevent mixing both filaments because if they both flow in the same time through the nozzle, your print will decay in the solvent. You can learn about 3D printing with Dual Extruder in ZMorph Academy.

ABS vs PLA

Although both filaments are extremely popular, there are significant differences between them. The main difference between ABS and PLA for 3D printing is that the first one is much tougher than the other. ABS is also slightly more difficult to print with, the speeds and temperatures are different. If you want to learn more about technical differences, read the ZMorph Materials Library where you can find mechanical properties of all materials compatible with ZMorph multitool 3D printers.

3D printing ABS
PLA (left) and ABS (right)

Health & Safety

Because ABS can emit unpleasant smells that can be dangerous to your health, it is very important to work in a well-ventilated area. Avoid spending too much time in the same room as the working 3D printer and if possible, wear a protective mask.

What’s more, you should never touch moving parts of the machine and be careful if you have long hair or some loose clothing elements that can be sucked into the working machine. Remember that ZMorph VX and other 3D printers operate on very high temperatures and you can get seriously burned while touching the machine at work or immediately after the work is done. It’s a good practice to wait a little bit for the machine to cool down before taking out your models.

ABS ZMorph 1.75 Filaments

ZMorph offers now a set of branded materials tested and designed especially for ZMorph multitool 3D printers. You can order them via our online store or at your local resellers. 

The materials were thoroughly tested before putting them up for sale and have corresponding presets in Voxelizer software. Use ZMorph materials for the best printing experience and results.

ABS 3D printing
Samples 3D printed with ZMorph filaments.

If you want to learn more about ABS or other materials compatible with ZMorph VX, visit the ZMorph Materials Library.

ZMorph Materials Library

Remember that you can also CNC machine ABS.

Jakub Spiryn

Content Manager at ZMorph

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