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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
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Jul 2014
    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 09:58 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
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Jul 2014
    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.

  6. #6
    Guys, how do you think are ABS filaments strong? I read on the Internet that these are quite strong fiber filaments especially for their price. However, I would like to know your personal usage feedback. Besides, I'd like to know how eco-friendly they are. I try to take care of the environment and since I have to buy quite a lot of these filaments, I would like to know what they are made of. I understand that my question is a bit strange, because even my friends laugh at me about how much I care about the environment. I even have a toothbrush made of natural bamboo from
    Last edited by OwenMackay; 11-28-2020 at 06:46 AM.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Jul 2014
    it depends entirely on HOW you print the abs.
    If in a well heated enclosure - then abs prints can be very strong and worth doing.
    If you just print them on an open frame printer - the layer adhesion will be atrocious and the prints will be weak and prone to breaking along the layer lines.

  8. #8
    Unlike CA I am a fan of quality ABS. It has certain properties that make it suited for certain parts just like all thing.. You would not want to use Steel to build a table (you can if you want) but Wood would be more practical.
    Same goes for filament. There are charts that show the properties of the different filaments like this one from eSun
    I like abs when I need a part that need to be ridged or needs to have threads taped into it, or needs to be smoothed/sanded. I have a DIY heated enclosure so I have little issue using ABS.

    If I need a part that will be outside in the heat and sun of the Mid-Atlantic region of the US I would try and use PETG as it has similar impact and strength properties of ABS and will not deteriorate in the Sun over time. However it flexing is an issue it may not be as good as ABS in that area.
    If you use the material that most closely matches the requirement the use case of the fabricated part the better your results will be.

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