Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

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Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS, as it commonly referred to, is a widely used thermoplastic throughout the industry. ABS material comes in the form of a filament and is processed in FFF technology. ABS is white in color but also comes in varied filament color options.

ABS prototype for visual testing

Since parts are fabricated layer by layer in 3D Printing, the layer marks are distinctly visible on ABS parts, and the parts have a rough surface finish. The rough surface finish and distinct layer marks have more to do with FFF technology, in general, than the ABS material under consideration. The layer marks can be mitigated by opting for a finer layer thickness setting.

Distinct layers marks on ABS part

Support structure generation is an inherent quality associated with FFF technology. Hence, ABS parts have support structures generated under the overhanging and protruding features. Therefore, although complex and intricate structures can be fabricated in ABS, the part quality and surface finish gets be hampered as the support structure removal leaves burr marks on the surface. The part can be later sanded to achieve a comparatively better surface finish. But in complex geometries it becomes difficult to polish the part in hard-to-reach places, thereby leading to a gradient in the surface finish. This surface gradient accentuates when the parts are painted. ABS parts can be post-processed to give them any desired color. Painting usually adds a layer thickness of 100–200µm.

Post-processed part in ABS material

ABS parts are cost-effective and are usually used in applications requiring form testing, and for moderately functional prototypes requiring decent strength without undergoing extreme mechanical loading. The strength/hollowness of ABS parts can be varied by changing the infill percentage. The accuracy of ABS parts is slightly poor owing to the filament deposition technology as compared to its SLS and SLA counterparts.

Highlights:

Honeycomb structures to make the models hollow
Filament comes in a variety of colors

Shortcomings:

Rough surface finish
Support structure generation
Post-processing generally required for better output.

Applications:

Prototypes for Form and visual testing
Cost-effective prototypes
Concept models

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