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3D Printing ABS Filaments using Ender 3

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

Why ABS?

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is an industrial thermoplastic with applications in a wide variety of fields. ABS is famous for its great impact resistance and toughness properties; it stands out among all of the 3D printing materials. ABS is still the second most common 3D printing material. Although it is known for being difficult to print, once perfected, it is sure to give you some excellent results. ABS prints, when post-processed with acetone, have a smooth and glossy surface finish, making them aesthetically similar to injection molded parts.

Printing ABS with open type printers like Ender 3 is tricky. You need special settings to run the ABS filaments in open type 3D Printers.

Tip #1 Stop part Cooling fan

ABS tend to warp if cooled down quickly. For this reason, the part cooling fan near the extruder (hot end) needs to be turned off. This allows the ABS to cool down gradually, reducing the chances of warping. This can be done through the slicer program or switching manually through the touch screen. I use Longer LK1 printer, which has a manual speed reduction or switch off facility.

Tip #2 Make the printing bed right

Nowadays, many open printers like Ender 3 come with a heated bed. The heated bed helps in first layer adhesion and keeps the surrounding temperate hot (more than the ambient). This reduces the chance of part getting warped. Some open type printers like Ender 3 comes with Buildtak like surface. If you have a glass surface you can use Kapton/ PET tape for getting first layer adhesion. The most innovative way which is used by many 3D printings enthusiastic is mixing ABS with Acetone or with MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone), form a paste and apply on the print bed surface.

Tip #3 Slicer setting

ABS 3D printer filament requires specific setting when compare with PLA filament

  • Nozzle Temperature: Must follow the manufacturer's recommended temperature setting. Generally, ABS flow smoothly between 220 deg C and 240 deg C. If the temperature is too high, you will see strings between two separate part of your print. If the temperature is too low, you will see that the layer adhesion is not good resulting in not stronger part. If both the cases, you should adjust the temperature by 50 deg C until you get good results.

  • Bed Temperature: Bed temperature plays a major role in getting a perfect ABS print. Higher bed temperature enables the part to cool down gradually resulting in a good print and reducing the chance of any defect. Generally, the recommended bed temperature is between 105 deg C and 110 deg C.

  • Brim or raft: Brim or raft reduces the effect of thermal contraction. This also ensure that your first layer sticks well to the surface

Tip # 4 Enclosure:

Open frame printers like Ender 3 is not ideal for printing ABS. An enclosure helps in keeping the ambient temperatures warm enough to prevent warping and layer splitting by reducing the effects of thermal contraction. It traps the heat from the bed and the extruder and keep the printer surrounding warm. The enclosure can be as simple as a cardboard box.

You all set...

The above tricks are sufficient to get great print using your Ender 3 type open-frame printers. If you have great ideas do share with me or write in comment.

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