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ABS Filament: How to Print Safely?

Aug 16,2023 | 3D4Create

I. Understanding ABS Filament Properties and Risks

1. Desirable properties of ABS for 3D printing 

ABS has significant strengths that make it one of the most popular 3D printing filaments. It is durable, moderately flexible, heat resistant, and affordable. Parts can be sanded, machined, painted, and vapor smoothed.

2. Limitations of ABS to consider

Drawbacks of ABS include its tendency to warp when cooling and give off irritating fumes during printing. It also requires higher temperatures and has risk of cracking if stressed. ABS emits toxic gases when burned.

3. Safety considerations when using ABS

The risks of poor ventilation, fire hazard, and toxic fumes mean extra safety steps are essential when printing with ABS. Following best practices minimizes these hazards.

ABS Filament: How to Print Safely?

Examples of parts with warping and cracking defects(photo: bitfab)

 

II. Recommended Safety Tips for Printing with ABS

1. Print in a well-ventilated area - Highly Recommended

ABS emissions can irritate eyes and airways, so a room with good airflow from open windows, fans, or exhaust venting is recommended. Avoid enclosed spaces.

ABS Filament: How to Print Safely?

ABS Filament: How to Print Safely?

Choose an enclosure with exhaust capabilities to vent fumes outdoors

 

2. Use an enclosure around the 3D printer

A transparent enclosure helps contain ABS odors and nanoparticles from escaping into the ambient environment. Vented enclosures with filters are ideal.

ABS Filament: How to Print Safely?

3. Maintain optimal temperature settings

Print at the proper hot end and bed temp for your ABS. Too cold risks cracking and warping. Too hot degrades the plastic. Heated beds aid adhesion.

4. Control fumes with filters and exhaust

Activated carbon filters on enclosures and external venting with exhaust fans minimize buildup of irritating microscopic ABS particles.

5. Take fire prevention steps 

Avoid potential ignition sources like heaters and static around printers. Have a fire extinguisher on hand in case of electrical shorts or thermally degraded ABS igniting.

 

III. How to Process and Handle ABS Filament Safely

1. Store ABS properly

Keep ABS cool and dry to prevent degradation. Vacuum sealing with desiccant helps maintain optimal properties and print quality over time.

2. Wear gloves and a mask when handling 

Nitrile gloves and an N95 or P100 mask protect skin and lungs from ABS dust when loading filament or post-processing prints.

3. Recycle ABS responsibly 

Never burn ABS. Fumes contain toxic chemicals. Instead, recycle any waste sprues/rafts and degraded ABS per local regulations.

4. Work in a clean, organized area

Clutter or dust in the print environment risks contaminating prints or impeding print head motion, possibly leading to fire risk.

Filament Storage Vacuum Bag with Electric Charge Pump

 

IV. Recommended 3D Printer Setup for ABS

1. Install a heated print bed

A heated bed from 90-110°C is strongly recommended to prevent ABS warping and improve first layer adhesion. Other adhesives can also assist.

2. Utilize an all-metal hotend

All-metal hotends can withstand ABS’s 220-250°C nozzle temp range safely. Avoid Teflon-lined hotends which offgas at high temps.  

3. Use a 3D printer with an enclosed frame

Enclosed printers maintain consistent temps, contain fumes, and prevent drafts that could warp ABS parts during printing.

4. Ensure adequate ventilation

Even with enclosures, filtered fume extraction and ventilation are essential to dilute and remove microscopic ABS emissions.

5. Choose quality ABS filament  

Reputable brands formulate ABS that requires less extreme temps and emits fewer fumes. Quality control also prevents clogs or shorts.

 

eSUN ABS+ Filament for 3D Printer 1.75mm 1KG

eSUN ABS+ Filament for 3D Printer 1.75mm 1KG

 

V. Conclusion

Printing with ABS requires vital safety steps from start to finish to minimize risks. Proper precautions must be taken during handling, storage, setup and printing. By prioritizing airflow, fire prevention, protective equipment and optimized settings, the benefits of ABS can be harnessed safely.

 

FAQS

1. How do you print ABS safely?

Use an enclosure, heated bed, hot first layer, cooling fan, adhesion aids like a brim.

2. How do I print ABS without warping?

You can use enclosure, heated bed, gradual cooling, hot first layer, brim, adhesion aids.

3. Is ABS filament body safe?

ABS can emit harmful fumes when printing, but finished prints are considered safe. For food use, PETG or food-safe PLA are better choices.

 

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