What exactly is ABS+/Plus filament?
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is an amazing 3D printing material that has a long and storied history. Since its initial rise in popularity, it has proven its worth time and again. It has great mechanical performance, excellent resistance to high temperatures, and its reasonable cost makes it attractive for many different types of 3D printing applications. Thanks to the fact that almost all filament manufacturers offer ABS in some form, it’s available across the spectrum as far as formats and colours making it one of the most customizable materials out there for 3D printers.
However, with great power comes great responsibility. One of the downsides of using ABS is its tendency to shrink while cooling, thus resulting in warping of the base and localized detachment from the bed. This can be especially challenging for beginners who might not understand the root of why their printed object looks distorted.
Of course, steps can be taken such as building an enclosure around the printer however some users may find a more forgiving filament to be a better solution, rather than figuring out all of the intricacies that accompany printing with ABS.
Depending on the desired application, switching to PETG may not be an option; if stability and durability are required from the plastic material, one may have to stick to ABS.
That’s why innovators in the materials engineering industry have developed ABS+. This new material is meant to be an upgrade of traditional ABS – featuring reduced sensitivity to shrinkage and warping while retaining many of its excellent performance benefits. But is this upgrade actually worth it? To find out, we must more closely explore what options are available on the market and analyze how well they respectively perform.
Different Names, Same Goal
ABS+ or low-warp ABS filaments may seem like a vaguely defined designation, with seemingly no indication of material composition, many filament manufacturers offer different products that abide by the same ‘low-warp’ standards. But as we’ll see, numerous manufacturers provide comparable performance under various brand names.
For Enthusiasts and Hobbyists
ABS+ is a widely sought-after filament type and while eSun is well known as its primary distributor, many other companies have it on offer as well. If you’re looking to try something new, check out some of the other brands such as:
- Trideus’ ICE filaments ABS+ have vibrant hues like orange, silver, and gold.
- Fiberology’s ABS Plus possesses “increased hardness, less warping, and [is] printable with open build space.”
- 3D Prima’s PrimaSelect ABS+ has similar claims about usability.
While ABS+ technically doesn’t exist, there are noteworthy alternative versions of the original system that offer similar, worthwhile characteristics to any driver behind the wheel.
- Gizmo Dorks’s low-odour ABS claims to keep ABS’s strength while printing without giving off harmful fumes.
- 3D Fuel’s Workday ABS is branded as the “simplest ABS filament to print with.”
- BASF’s Ultrafuse ABS Fusion+ is marketed as an “easy-to-print engineering material” and is part of BASF’s Ultrafuse line of filaments.
For Experts and Professionals
The name may sound familiar, but Stratasys’ ABSplus filament is not designed with hobbyist makers in mind. Optimized for industrial-level production and printing processes – notably on products from the F123 Series – ABSplus has been developed with a singular purpose: to create industrial strength parts according to strict parameters of structural composition, stability, and reliability.
Is It Actually ABS Filament?
ABS+ filaments offered by different brands can be hard to pinpoint – what is the difference between this and basic ABS? While some companies refer to it as being reduced odour or fumes which could be attributed to a lower level of styrene, the performance of these printed objects is still key.
An example would be eSun’s ABS+ which is less soluble in acetone than regular ABS, but how much real ABS remains in the mix is uncertain. However, if the printed object achieves the desired results then you know you have to use quality filament.
Companies like BASF are setting an excellent example of transparency in the material composition of their ABS+ filaments. By providing details regarding material properties and safety, consumers can be more confident in their purchase decisions. Without such access to technical info, questions may arise about the content in unconventional materials such as Ultrafuse ABS Fusion+, which is crafted from acetonitrile butadiene styrene instead of the conventional acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.
With a lack of knowledge on what unknown additives may be present, concerns begin to grow regarding both the safety and longevity of any item created using said materials.
Printing the Distinction
Let’s examine the distinctions between ABS and ABS+ in more detail now that we are aware of the range of possibilities for ABS+.
When using ABS+, it is important to take into consideration the nozzle temperature, as more than one wrong move could mean a botched printing job. The standard range for ABS+ is usually between 240° C and 260° C, however, some brands like eSun may have temperatures starting at 220° C.
To prevent warping of prints, a heated bed is suggested too – the value varying from 90° C to 120° C, though a higher end of the range may be favoured for best results. By taking these temperatures into consideration during any 3D printing job, one can expect successful results.
ABS+ is quickly revolutionizing what users can get out of their 3D printers. Turned off by warped and difficult-to-work-with prints produced using regular ABS, users now have the option of printing with Ultrafuse ABS Fusion+, which reportedly shrinks much less than its predecessor and produces prints with a much higher level of quality; some say that it delivers results closer to PLA-like quality.
With just some minor attention paid to making sure there are no drafts present in the print area, ABS+ has made producing better prints easier and more accessible than ever. The best part? Most regular surfaces that worked for ABS will offer solid bed adhesion for ABS+, which means no additional investments need to be made – not even for a surface that works for both.
Manufacturers typically boast that their improved printing processes don’t compromise the integrity of the material’s mechanical performance, but BASF’s technical datasheets on their filaments demonstrate some discrepancies.
The modified ABS Fusion+ material has a notably lower degree of rigidity and strength than the original, but its added flexibility compensates by providing more impact resistance.
To ensure that post-processing with acetone won’t be detrimental to your prints, it is essential to confirm beforehand that your filament supports this process – for instance, eSun ABS+ is not compatible as its solubility in acetone could cause problems.
Working with any kind of filament requires that respiratory safety is taken into account, but this becomes even more vital when working with ABS and any of its derivatives. Not only do these filaments have noxious fumes, but users may also think that because a filament like ABS+ prints well without an enclosure, one isn’t necessary.
But this is not the case – it is still important to create a well-ventilated environment while printing in order to minimize the risk of toxic fumes. In addition, you can create or purchase your own air purifier to use in close proximity to the printer for further safety.
When shopping for filament, it’s important to keep pricing in mind. ABS is generally the least expensive type of filament due to its wide availability; however, optimized formulations like eSun’s ABS+ can set you back a bit more than their PETG counterparts.
If you’re looking for a premium European brand, be prepared to pay more than you would for either regular ABS or ABS+. The good news is that manufacturers often have discounts and promotions running throughout the year so do your research and shop around to find the best deal.
Manufacturers targeting hobbyists offer a vivid rainbow of colours for enthusiasts to choose from. Whether your tastes lie in deep blues, flashy neons, fresh pastels, or even glow-in-the-dark shades, suppliers such as eSun and Trideus have you covered?
Conversely, when considering devices made for prosumers and professionals, colours may be more limited to subtle black, white, and beige combinations.
In Comparison to Other Materials
Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate (ASA) is a close relative of ABS that offers many of the same characteristics, such as excellent mechanical and thermal performance. Yet what sets ASA apart is its improved resistance to UV rays, which makes it a far more suitable choice for outdoor projects. Although printing with ASA filament can be tricky to master and poses similar safety risks to that of ABS, compared to regular ABS, the filament is much less likely to warp if printed correctly. The downside is that ASA will likely come with a higher cost than regular ABS filaments.
PETG is a highly underrated plastic filament that can provide users with numerous benefits. As explained in our article, it is a safer and easier material to print than ABS (or ABS+) but isn’t the ideal choice for objects that will be exposed to high temperatures. That said, if your print won’t be dealing with extreme temperature changes then it might be a better option as compared to its counterparts. The level of detail in PETG prints can even surpass that of ABS+, making this an alluring alternative if you’re looking for certain mechanical properties.
PLA is a staple material used in 3D printing, renowned for its ability to produce the highest level of detail. It’s also a safer alternative than ABS or other styrene-based polymers when working with fumes and heat, making it an ideal option for users who require quality results but are low on resources. Despite not having as much impact and temperature resistance as ABS+, PLA offers dozens of different flavours, ensuring it can be tailored to fit almost any project.
ABS+ is an excellent choice if your 3D printing projects require certain properties of ABS. It has been designed to perform similarly to the parent material, but it does have one major advantage: it improves the overall printing experience by reducing the warping issues commonly associated with ABS filament. This leads to reduced print times and costs, due to diminished levels of scrap material. Although ABS+ still carries some risks involved in using traditional ABS filaments (such as wear and tear on prints), opting for the more durable version may be worth the higher asking price.
I am Bheema Shankar. I have worked on SLS, CJP, DLP, SLA and FDM technologies at Think3D. Currently working as Process and application engineer at VEER-O-METALS PRIVATE LIMITED. I am always fascinated by the process of creating things layer by layer. This fascination led me to pursue a career in 3D printing technology. I am passionate about how 3D works and enjoy exploring new ways to improve the 3D printing process.