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  1. #1

    Why is there very little ABS composite filaments?

    I am looking to do some experimenting with composite print materials such as wood, carbon fiber and metals and have realized that there appear to many options with PLA composites and very limited amount of ABS composites. Could someone please explain the characteristics that appear to make ABS composite filaments a lot less abundant than PLA?

  2. #2
    abs is a lot harder to print with than pla. It also expands more when heated and shrinks more when cooled.

    So any mix of abs and a non-plastic material is just not going to perform as well as the same non-plastic material mixed with pla, which is a lot more thermically stable.

    You can get abs mixed with carbon of various 'flavours'.
    But that's pretty much it.

    Also the specialist blended filaments are expensive, so the manufacturers want it to be printable on as many machines as possible. And abs is just not worth using on an unenclosed printer with an unheated print volume.

    Also a lot of manufacturers are now producing printers without heated beds - a massive mistake in my opinion - so and fancy abs blends just wouldn't work at all.
    Abs prints are often treated with acetone for one reason or another, again this could react with any inclusions.

    There are probably other reasons as well.
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 06-28-2017 at 08:58 AM.

  3. #3
    Engineer ralphzoontjens's Avatar
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    Nov 2013
    Tilburg, the Netherlands
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    Maybe the American Bamboo Society can make an ABS-Bamboo blend and call it ABS-ABS

    The thing with polymers is that they tend not to want to blend with other materials, so often when creating composites we need an interfacing material like maleic anhydride and lignins. That is probably the reason why PLA is more suitable.

    We need some chemical expertise here.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2016
    SE Wisconsin
    Fillers in ABS are not terribly common in the plastics industry. While it is possible that there are more, typically ABS is only filled/reinforced (note that these two are not the same thing) with glass "bead", glass fiber, or wollastonite silicate (according to my reference book). All three applications are a reinforcement, with fillers such as wood or cellulose rarely occurring in my experience.

    Carbon reinforcement is certainly possible, and in fact you can buy carbon reinforced abs here:

    And likely other companies make some as well.

    There are some chemical concerns with coupling the material to the reinforcement or filler, however the primary reason is most likely as CA stated - ABS is simply not a very consumer friendly filament and is far less popular. There just isn't the demand for it like there is in the molding industry, where we absolutely love working with it.

    Metals are simply cosmetic in nature for most applications and again in 3D printing is by virtue of low demand. In molding, if we need a metallic sheen on an ABS part we would simply use a secondary process to plate the part. It's not very common in plastics as a filler or reinforcement either simply because of the higher weight to strength compared to fibers.

    I think CA has some input on plating?

  5. #5
    for plating I actually used abs 'paint'.
    So acetone and about a 3or 4:1 ratio of graphite to clear abs filament.
    The abs acts with the acetone as a glue. You have to be careful when handling the painted object, but it will copper plate quite well.

    You need to balance the glueing effect with the conductivity of the graphite. Too little abs and the paint just won't stick. Too much and it won't plate.

    It's worth persevereing and getting your own recipe right as the commercial conductive paints are extemely expensive.

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