ABS vs. PLA: What is the difference between these two filaments for 3D printer?

In today’s contribution to the blog of MakerShopBCN , we will focus on the filament for 3D printing most commonly used, the ABS  vs  PLA . These are the ABS and PLA , which are used by a very high percentage among users of 3D printers in the market.

But, let us see the reason of its use so diversified and the suitability of use of each one of them.

On one hand, the filament ABS is a type of tough, hard plastic, which allows to be sanded, polished, drilled, painted and glued with acetone or acetone / ABS, or specialized adhesives. As the ABS soluble in acetone, it allows a printed once the piece, as a technique for post processing, smoothing the pieces using acetone vapor (attention: acetone vapor is harmful to health, they must use appropriate measures of security). These characteristics make it ideal for the printing of mechanical parts or that need to be manipulated or machined once printed.

Furthermore, the filament PLA (biodegradable material) is mainly used for more ease of use in printing parts.Given that it is a relatively more fragile than filament ABS and because of its properties, the subsequent handling of the printed pieces is much more limited than with ABS.

The ABS filament requires less force to be extruded to the PLA filament , as it has a lower coefficient of friction. This feature extrusion makes it ideal for 3D printing for small parts, compared with the PLA . The disadvantage of the filament ABS is that it should be extruded at a temperature above the filament ABS is amorphous and therefore does not have a true melting point, but 230~240 ° C is standard for printing, whereas the PLA requires less Extruder temperature (depending on the extruder between 180 ° C and 220 ° C)

Another difference print between them is that in the case of filament ABS warm bed in which the plastic is deposited must be greater than 80, while in the case of filament PLA must be at 50 ° C (recommended) although It is possible to print with the base completely cold. In this aspect, is the difference in speed 3D printing , being faster in the case of PLA as the temperature is not so critical.

Another aspect to consider is the emission of harmful gases. In the case of ABS , being a synthetic petroleum -based plastic, the melt in the extruder, emits noxious fumes mild. These fumes, while they are generally tolerable, can be dangerous for people with chemical sensitivities or breathing difficulties, so it is recommended that when working with filament ABS , the 3D printer is located in a place with good ventilation, a fact that does not happen in the case of using the PLA filament . Following the line of the negative external effects, the PLA is positioned as a biodegradable filament and respectful environment.However, the filament ABS has a recycler, which allows us to collect extra strand of our creations and recycler of ABS we draws up a new coil. By the time the PLA does not have this add -on , which the ABSbegins to gain ground in the field of recycling and respect for the environment.

Both filaments are hygroscopic, that is, they absorb moisture from the atmosphere. They should be stored in a container with a lid and some form of desiccant to keep the indoor air dry. The filament ABS affected by moisture, tend to bubble at the time of extrusion and the result of the printed piece is a rough and porous surface.

As for the possibilities offered by the market, we have a wide range of colors both in the case of PLA as theABS , and two standard thicknesses of 1.75 mm and a 3 mm. In the beginning was more used the format of 3 mm, but lately is taking force by the users the format of 1.75 mm, since this allows according to the opinion of these, finer finishes with nozzles of 0.35 mm .

In conclusion, we can say that the ABS is preferred in industrial applications, while the PLA and ABS are suitable for home use. For example, a company engaged in mechanical parts, must use the filament ABS , for its strength and rigidity. Instead, an architectural firm to design models of their projects, you can use the PLA filament . If the printed part has to withstand relatively high temperatures (for example the extruder of our 3D printer) the use of the ABS filament is almost obligatory, since the PLA deforms quickly in high temperature environments.

Main differences between the PLA and ABS

ABS PLA
Extrusion temperature: ~ 240 ° C Extrusion temperature: ~ 200 ° C
Requires warm bed> 70 ° C Low warm bed temperature
It works quite well without layer cooling. Benefit greatly from layer cooling during printing
Worse adhesion, polyamide or lacquer tape is needed. Good adhesion to a wide variety of surfaces
High Temperature Resistant Low temperature resistant
Prone to cracking, delamination, and deformation Prone to the undulation of the equine and salient
More flexible More fragile
Parts can be joined using adhesives or solvents (acetone or MEK) Parts can be bonded using specific adhesives
Smoke is unpleasant and harmful in enclosed areas Non-harmful fumes and more pleasant smell
Plastic derived from petroleum Plastic of vegetable origin

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