Mastering ABS Printing: 6 Easy Tips for Success

Mastering ABS Printing: 6 Easy Tips for Success

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is arguably the most popular 3D-printing material due to its exceptional mechanical properties and temperature resistance. This thermoplastic polymer has become widely appreciated amongst makers and engineers because of its ease of usage and post-processing. 

It falls right between PLA and PETG in terms of its qualities, making it a great choice for those who want both convenience and performance from their prints. For example, it is more heat resistant and resilient than PLA, but much easier to store and post-process than PETG. Although PETG does not emit as many unpleasant odours when printing or warp as much as ABS, the increased difficulty storing and processing it makes ABS a good balance between the two filaments.

Mastering ABS Printing

Its value lies in its ability to create prototypes, parts and objects that have their own required functionalities. ABS has a wide range of applications, from jewellery making and figurine modelling to complex parts for automobiles or engineering models. With this type of additive manufacturing, you can design and create nearly anything within a relatively low budget; allowing you to explore new possibilities and be more creative with your projects.  

Although 3D printing with ABS can require a little extra effort for successful prints, the results are often more than worth it! The resulting parts have excellent surface finish and functionality, making it a popular choice for engineers, technicians and hobbyists alike. To help you on your journey to mastering ABS printing, this article will provide useful tips and tricks which will give you impressively accurate prints every time.

 Optimal Configuration for Superior Performance

Getting great prints from your 3D printer doesn’t have to be rocket science! Just like anyone else, all it takes is a good 3D printing setup and you can achieve the best prints imaginably. With the right environment for the ABS material, settings for the slicer will be optimized for your individual needs so you get the most out of your 3D printed models – with perfect structural integrity and smooth finishes. 

Here are some pointers for getting a great setup.

Enhance Your Setup with an Enclosure

If you’re planning to work with ABS filament for 3D printing, an enclosure is a must. It guards not just your filament, but you as well.  

Temperature control is essential when working with ABS and without an enclosure, these changes can lead to layer adhesion issues and curling of parts. 

An enclosure creates a closed environment that eliminates dust from entering the building portal and helps keep a constant temperature, preventing air drafts that could ruin prints. Additionally, using a 3D printer filter in your enclosure guarantees clean air and appropriate ventilation while keeping you safe from the toxic fumes often associated with ABS materials.

This ensures that when working with ABS, the temperature gradient is minimal, and it prevents any possible issues during the printing process. The range of enclosures available to purchase caters to all levels of users, ranging from prefabricated professional boxes lined with insulating material, to DIY options utilizing common household items like an IKEA lack table and acrylic sheets. 

However, even with PLA and PETG prints, having an enclosure isn’t as vital a process as it is with ABS prints.

Securely Attach It

When you are printing with ABS, one of the most difficult issues can be getting it to stick properly to the bed. If you don’t use proper bed adhesion, it can quickly lead to warping of the initial layers and sometimes even cause corners or edges to lift off from the 3D printer’s build plate. What is the solution? 

You can give your prints some extra grip with a variety of different applications like ABS slurry, a glue stick, hairspray and more. All of these will provide an added interface between the bed and your first printed layer for better adhesion that helps keep your prints firmly in place. Slicer options such as rafts and brims can also help make sure that your 3D prints stay fixed where they should.

Maintaining Dry Conditions

ABS is a hygroscopic material, meaning that it tends to absorb moisture quickly. If the moisture content in the filament is too high, layer adhesion reduces and parts can become brittle and break easily. 

Experienced 3D printer users are aware of this issue and know what to do to prevent it from occurring; however, beginners may not recognize the signs and symptoms of filament affected by moisture absorption. In this case, evidence can be observed when the filament is being extruded from the nozzle. Small bubbles will appear in the filament flow along with popping noises.

Proper storage is essential for any 3D printing material, but especially so for ABS, which needs extra care when in damp or humid environments. An ideal solution to store and to print is the dry box: it ensures a perfectly moisture-free environment while keeping your materials secure. If a dry box isn’t an option, opt instead for airtight plastic vacuum bags, which are easy to use and will protect your materials from moisture buildup when not in use.


Slicer settings can seem intimidating if you don’t have any experience with 3D printing, but once you understand the basics you’ll be surprised to see how a few small tweaks can go a long way. Getting your slicer settings dialled in for ABS is like solving a puzzle – once you find the solution and all your slicer settings are tuned correctly, you can finally achieve reliable and accurate prints with every filament change and batch.

Adjusting the Temperature Settings

ABS 3D printing is usually preferred for its strength and chemically resistant properties, it is however a bit difficult to print using this material. It requires higher temperature settings than most of the other materials, both in the hot end and heated bed. To get good results with ABS printing, a starting temperature of 225 °C should be kept in the hot end while a bed’s temperature ranging between 90-110 °C should be maintained. 

Temperature towers can further refine these settings to get better-looking prints. It’s also important to keep the surroundings warm throughout the process in order to prevent warping and layer splitting due to sudden cooling. All these parameters act together synchronized to provide ABS prints with the highest aesthetic and strength qualities.

While ABS is more similar in temperature requirements to PETG than it is to PLA, the latter two filaments don’t require a heated bed.

ABS filament has a unique property compared to PLA and PETG filaments. ABS is the only type of filament among the three that requires a heated bed for smooth, successful 3D printing.  

Reducing Printing Speed

Print speed is an important factor when it comes to ABS 3D printing. Slower print speeds result in higher temperatures, better layer adhesion and a decrease in warping or distortion at the corners and edges. To ensure the best possible outcome, the first few layers should be printed below 20 mm/s – this ensures that they are securely bonded with the build plate before further layers are added. 

As more layers build up, you can gradually increase the speed to a balance between time and quality; 50-60 mm/s is generally considered optimal for most prints. Keeping in mind that each layer needs sufficient time to cool down prevents any layer-splitting issue from occurring in your final product.

Disabling the Fan              

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) in 3D printing doesn’t tolerate forced cooling, as it can lead to unpleasant results. When a fan is used to blow air on the printed part, temperature gradients appear near the nozzle area while uneven air drafts compound the problem and cause even greater temperature differences. 

If a layer is cooled too quickly, warping appears in the part and edges become curled away from each other. To ensure successful 3D prints with ABS, it is recommended that fan speed is reduced to 0% during the cooling phase of the printing process.

Gunaseelan Murugesan
Author | Website

Experienced Project Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the field of Product Design & Development industry in Mechanical Engineering. Skilled in 3D Printing and Re engineering Technologies with CATIA V5 , Materials Science, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Mimics, ANSYS Workbench and Casting Simulation software. Strong engineering professional with a Master’s Degree focused in Industrial Metallurgy from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore.

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